"Come on Greta, Lean back and stick them out."
Iâ€™m a big fan of pirates and I love zombies. They just seem to go hand in hand. It was this pairing that was on my mind one cold and rainy day when I went to the video store and picked up Ghost Galleon. Now, I had never seen one of the Blind Dead Films at this point so the entire aesthetic was new to me, though the robe wearing zombies were a little odd at first, it did have a pirate ship, so I was on board.
Weâ€™re introduced to this world by way of a fashion shoot where Noemi (BĂˇrbara Rey) confronts her boss, Lillian (Maria Perschy) about her lover Kathy. Lillian happens to know where she is and invites Noemi down to the peer to see for herself. It turns out that Kathy is involved in a top secret publicity stunt being run by Sporting Goods Tycoon Howard Tucker (Jack Taylor of Vampireâ€™s Night Orgy). Kathy is in a small motorboat drifting on the fog, accompanied by Starlet Lorena Kay (Margarita Merino). Things go as planned at first until Lorena spots a large Galleon in the distance, heading straight for them.
The girls get rammed (no, not like that), and their boat is disabled. Not having much in the way of options, Lorena decides to board the pirate ship, while Kathy calls for help. While Howard Tucker and the others fight over what to do, Kathy boards the ship out of desperation. Now mind you, Noemi is quite the bitch, and Howard and his team are sleaze balls too, so there are a lot of unlikeable people running around that have their heads stuck up their asses. Eventually they figure that they will sail out to rescue the girls themselves and are on their way. Meanwhile, Kathy is wandering the ship, lost in perpetual darkness, unable to find Lorena. Eventually, frustrated, Kathy sits and closes her eyes. While seemingly asleep, the dead rise from crates in the cargo hold, robed Knights Templar rotted to the bone. After cornering her, they carry her out, screaming, and toss her into a dark hole.
Whatâ€™s interesting is that we really donâ€™t see the Blind Dead until Kathy closes her eyes, as if she falls asleep and wakes in a nightmare. Not only do the dead suddenly rise and carry her into the darkness, but the group is now in this nightmare world too. The accompanying Professor GrĂĽber (Carlos Lemos) is convinced that they are in a nightmare dimension that they will never escape from. Yeah, I know that melodramatic, but so are these characters. After wondering the dark for a few, they decide to bunk down till morning, where they can look by the light of the sun.
Speaking of melodrama, Noemi, the drama queen, waits till they others are asleep and decides to go search for Kathy alone. Not in a loving and concerned lover kind of way, but a creepy fatal attraction kind of way. Just sayinâ€¦Eventually, she finds the knights, or they find her, and they proceed to drag her into the dark hole, decapitating her, and drinking her blood. When they awaken, the group realizes that they have been asleep for 14 hours and are still sailing in fog layered darkness. This enforces the Professorâ€™s theory and hesitantly, they split into groups to speed up the search for the girls and get off the ship.
Ghost Galleon is considered a lesser entry into the Blind Dead series. There is a serious lack of gore and nudity (trademarks of other entries), and though it has great sets and engrossing atmosphere, it plays more like a classic Universal horror than the typical Spanish grindhouse horror people were probably expecting at the time. Much is also made of the blatant sexism in the film, stating that the women are all greedy whores and the men are chauvinists and rapists. My only response to that is; hey, bad people run into zombies too. Not everyone has to be a lovable Joe, ya know?
The sets are awesome and the atmosphere is suitably thick, it just seems to fall a little flat. I like the film but it could have, and should have been more. An interesting point to bring up is that though there is nudity and gore in previous entries that may have been forced on him by the money men. After all, that is what was selling in America at the time. His first â€śhorrorâ€ť film â€śFangs of the living deadâ€ť (Check out my review of the busty classic Here), was sexy but lacks nudity and any serious gore as well. It could be that after the success of the first two Blind Dead entries, he was allowed more freedom, and made a film more to his taste. After this one failed to get the desired boxoffice, he may have decided to return to the previously successful T & A formula, just a thought. Itâ€™s definitely worth a look, but best watched followed by an earlier entry in the series. There is no chronology to the films so you can enjoy this one and follow it up with a main course of serious nudity and gore.
I do watch this film now and again, and it holds a special place in my heart. It may not be the gut munching zombie pirate film I always wanted, but I fear the days when that was a possibility are long gone. Films like this didnâ€™t always give us what we wanted, but in many ways, they gave more than we will ever get again.