By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Having given the Spanish-Italian zombie classic THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE a standout U.S. Blu-ray release last year, Synapse Films is now gearing up to do the same for another favorite from Spain, Amando de Ossorio’s TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD. Synapse president Don May Jr. gave us the scoop on what to expect from the disc, including multiple versions of the movie and audio commentary tracks.
TOMBS was the first of de Ossorio’s series of films featuring the sightless ghouls known as the Knights Templar. First released in Spain in 1972 and in the U.S. in 1973 (with heavy edits to achieve a PG rating!) as THE BLIND DEAD, it’s coming on a Synapse Blu-ray later this year. “TOMBS was one of those situations where we inherited a previous scan and restoration that I was not able to supervise myself,” May says. “I had to do some fixes, some color corrections and other things to bring the movie up to our usual standards of quality, and finally it’s done.”
Both the longer Spanish and shorter English cuts will be included, and a third that May describes as “the nightmare I caused for myself. I got the bright idea to do a hybrid version; I said, ‘Why don’t we put the English track over the longer Spanish edition, and where the Spanish one has extra footage and dialogue, we just cut to the Spanish and put subtitles on it.’ So we have the long version mostly in English with 15 or 20 minutes in Spanish, with optional subtitles. I didn’t realize till after I started it that it would be a massive pain in the ass, but we’re doing it. It’ll be interesting for the fans to have the opportunity to see it that way, and it’s weird, because there are scenes in English with just one or two lines of dialogue in Spanish, and you get to see what the people who first put the movie out in the U.S. decided to cut.”
For a film in which the undead villains track their victims by sound, it’s appropriate that there will be plenty to listen to on the TOMBS Blu-ray. “We’ve got three commentaries,” May says, “including one by [historian/author] Troy Howarth and one by Lone Fleming, the star of the film, which is awesome. She sent me an e-mail when she heard we were doing TOMBS, saying, ‘Whatever you need, I’m here!’ so I said, ‘OK, we’ll take you up on that!’ and we sent somebody to Spain to do the commentary. She had a blast, and to get her, after all these decades, to come back and talk about the movie was great. We also have a commentary by Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn, who do the NaschyCast podcast, which is a lot of fun.”
And there’s more: “We’ve got the infamous REVENGE FROM PLANET APE opening [slapped on the film in the ’70s by a duplicitous distributor attempting to tie it in with the PLANET OF THE APES franchise], and an amazing documentary on the Spanish zombie genre that’s a follow-up to the one on the LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE Blu-ray, by the same people [director Naomi Holwill et al.]. Also, we always try to do a CD for our special editions, and there has never been an official soundtrack CD of TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, probably because the original elements are not separated and they can’t be found or whatever. But we’re doing a heavy-metal tribute CD for TOMBS. There’s a band called Hooded Menace whose first few albums were basically love letters to the BLIND DEAD films, so we’ve got a couple of tracks from them. Lee Dorrian from Napalm Death had another band called Cathedral, who did a song called ‘Tombs of the Blind Dead,’ and he’s letting us have that for the CD. And collectors who are into horror soundtracks and limited-edition vinyl will know the band Zoltan, who have done John Carpenter and PHANTASM tribute albums, and they did a record with their own takes on the themes for the four main BLIND DEAD films, so we’re going to have those. The CD is going to be awesome. We’ve got a few other surprises in store as well.” We’ll keep you posted on further details and the release date!