The Ghost Galleon Review

Prior to The Ghost Galleon, the previous instalments in the Blind Dead franchise, Tombs of the Blind Dead and Return of the Evil Dead, has straddled kitsch and quality with wavering degrees of success. This particular entry being something of a cash-in rush job you’d expect that success rate to diminish further, and indeed it does, the plotting have kitsch written all over it.

As part of a publicity stunt entitled ‘Operation Atlantic’, a pair of swimsuit models are placed in a tiny speedboat in the middle of the ocean. The plan is that they’ll be picked up by some passing cruiser and help advertise their product, except no cruiser appears. Rather the titular galleon makes herself known in a sea of fog and just so happens to be carrying the coffins of the Blind Dead…

Perversely, it’s the sheer ridiculousness of this premise which keeps you watching. You could argue that such a setup is a far superior option to a mere retread of the earlier films, plus it’s true that it results in a better demonstration of Amando de Ossorio’s directorial skills. He appears to thrive on the simplicity and the opportunity to overcome its difficulties; he’s faced with a horror film which has inadvertently been stripped to the essentials simply because it is so flimsy.

Indeed, de Ossorio has much less to get bogged down in. Note the ‘15’ certificate and you’ll realise that the exploitation quotient has thankfully been diminished since the previous Blind Dead offering. Instead our compulsory lipstick lesbianism flashback is notable more for its ghastly dialogue than it is any misogynist undertones: “Do you think I’d make a good model?”, “But your parents want you to be a secretary.” And certainly the dialogue is awful throughout, but such elements are easily ignored. De Ossorio clearly has little interest in such matters (despite being solely responsible for them) and as such neither do we. Rather he’s concentrating on the horror dimension and in this respect does quite well.

As before, the Blind Dead themselves remain a terrific creation: wonderfully effective, distinctive and – in comparison to previous appearances – totally inconsistent! There really is no need to have seen either Tombs or Return, rather this time around an “explanation” of their existence revolves around nods to both Richard Wagner and allusions to the Bermuda Triangle, though hardly to any satisfying degree. Yet the lack of anything concrete (“science wouldn’t believe it” informs our scientist before going no further) only serves to make de Ossorio much freer. There’s no logic to be tied down to and as such he can focus solely on creating the effective scare sequences. Which is, of course, exactly what he does. The entire first half plays out as a wonderfully suspenseful set piece in which the Blind Dead gradually make themselves known, whilst he even manages a nice little twist at the film’s closing even as he fluffs the ending. Indeed, The Ghost Galleon may not be the best example of a Blind Dead movie, but it’s by no means a major disappointment.

The Disc

The Ghost Galleon comes to the UK DVD market in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and anamorphically enhanced. As with the previous Blind Dead offerings it also comes from a clean print, though it’s also a much grainier and often hazier one. Indeed, there’s a murkiness which doesn’t really help matters, especially as much of the film takes place in the dark, and fog shrouded darkness at that. At best, it all remains watchable, though those expecting the quality of Tombs of the Blind Dead will likely be disappointed.

Owing to licensing issues Anchor Bay are only able to release The Ghost Galleon in a dubbed English form. Of course this wasn’t the case with the Blue Underground offering in the States and, more importantly, it sounds pretty awful. Admittedly it’s not the worse dub track that I’ve heard, but then it does render the DD5.1 and DTS mixes mostly useless. After all, who wants to hear the inadequacies of the recording process emphasised further?

As for extras, here we find the standard Blind Dead collection of original theatrical trailers and an exhaustive gallery of stills, posters, lobby cards and the like. Also present are a handful of TV/radio spots, plus a theatrical trailer, for the film’s US incarnation where it went by the name of Horror of the Zombies. Again, if you’re after more substantial extras then you really need to pick up The Ghost Galleon as part of Anchor Bay’s The Blind Dead Collection and sample its bonus disc.

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Last updated: 06/07/2018 10:41:27

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