Night of the Seagulls Review

Number four in the Blind Dead franchise, Night of the Seagulls follows on from the essentially throwaway (but fun) The Ghost Galleon. In many ways this entry continues on a similar path, though it’s debatable as to whether writer-director Amando de Ossorio is quite as capable of overcoming the difficulties here. Whereas The Ghost Galleon still had its share of effective moments amongst the contrivances and awful dialogue, Night of the Seagulls more often than not disappoints. Take the opening flashback as an example. By far the lengthiest visit to the past to be found in the series, it sadly can’t back up its running time anything of substance. There’s no new Knights Templar mythology to introduce or even an explanation of their past for Blind Dead newcomers. Rather it’s merely an excuse for a bit of gore, a dash of nudity and nothing more.

Much the same could be said of the film as whole. Following our flashback we move onwards to the present day and find a young couple – a doctor and his wife – moving to a “primitive” fishing village. There they are met with superstition and a loathing for outsiders as the townsfolk harbour a guilty secret: they are in fact complicit with the undead Knights Templar and sacrifice nubile young virgins to them at midnight.

It’s an intriguing enough setup, but one that is never satisfactorily seen through. Though Tombs of the Blind Dead (which kickstarted the franchise) easily held its own against the inevitable comparisons to Night of the Living Dead (if, of course, we weren’t expecting a similar level of subtext), Night of the Seagulls simply pales when placed alongside the thematically similar Straw Dogs and The Wicker Man. Unfortunately, there’s no character development which means that our central couple remain incredibly bland whilst the townsfolk exist solely as a single unit who dislike outsiders.

Moreover, the villagers have effectively displaced the Knights Templar as the chief villains. Rather they’re reduced to mere cameo roles, seemingly allowed only to make the occasional slow motion horseback as a means of harking bark to their glory days. As such we’re left with a film which offers only tiny glimmers of interest – its score is typically effective and, of course, it comes alive whenever the Blind Dead do make an appearance, however brief – but sadly very little else. As a means of concluding the franchise it seems an awful long distance from Tombs of the Blind Dead.

The Disc

The weakest of the Blind Dead also gets the weakest of the DVD presentations. Though we get the film in its original aspect ratio and anamorphically enhanced, the print from which the transfer has been taken isn’t especially pleasing. Grainy in the extreme and more often murky than not, it never once looks as good as the presentations given to the earlier films in the franchise. Moreover, the image is often soft and colours appear faded making this an all round disappointment, though the worse is perhaps still to come. For Night of the Seagulls also, due to licensing issues, comes with only an English dub track and a fairly poor one at that. Indeed, it sounds bad enough in its original mono form making the addition DD5.1 and DTS mixes somewhat inessential. As for the extras, the disc comes with the usual bunch of theatrical trailers for all four Blind Dead entries, plus a comprehensive collection of production stills, posters and the like.

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