Amando de Ossorio

Amando de Ossorio

Amando de Ossorio (April 6, 1918January 13, 2001) was one of the foremost Spanish film directors during the European Horror film surge in the 1970s, known especially for his Blind Dead quadrilogy, a series of violent horror films which featured a never-before-seen type of monster. De Ossorio not only directed his horror films, he also wrote the screenplays for most of them and even came up with the original story idea/ plot in most cases (although producers sometimes tampered with the end product).

His first horror film "Malenka" (1969) was written to be a psychological thriller about a young woman who inherits a castle in Europe and is summarily driven crazy by her uncle who tries to convince her that he and she are both vampires! At the end of the film, the uncle's scheme is revealed and explained by her boyfriend/hero as a hoax. However, after De Ossorio finished the film, the producers decided to make the uncle a real vampire and added a shoddy, low-budget disintegration scene to the film's finale, thus thoroughly confusing the audience and enraging De Ossorio.

In 1970, Paul Naschy's cult classic "Walpurgis Night" started a major horror craze in Europe, and producers scrambled to get in on the action. While most of the new slew of films featured sexier, more violent versions of the old monsters (vampires, werewolves, etc.), De Ossorio decided to try to create an entirely new breed of monster. In 1971, he came up with the concept of the "Blind Dead", a cult of blind, undead Templar Knights who rode skeletal ghost-horses and were attracted to their victims by the sound of their breathing or heartbeat.

The first film ("Tombs of the Blind Dead") was so successful, he immediately embarked on a career as a Euro-horror film director from that point on. Although that first film was his most successful both in Europe and in the United States, many fans feel his second "Blind Dead" film ("Attack of the Evil Dead") was actually the best of the four.

His 1975 "Demon Witch Child" (obviously influenced by "The Exorcist") is today regarded as an underrated must-see horror classic by most of his fans. Unfortunately, his last film "The Sea Serpent" (De Ossorio's pet project for many years) was a disappointment to him, due to the shoddy, low budget special effects, and may account for his retirement from filmmaking in 1980 at age 62.

In interviews, De Ossorio complained about the mercilessly tiny budgets he was forced to work with, and he lamented that in almost every case, the finished project never even came close to what he had envisioned when he first conceived each film. Perhaps the prize for worst special effects scene in film history may have to be awarded to the obvious toy boat that sinks at the finale of "The Ghost Galleon" (1974); it didn't even look like a toy, but rather more like a folded piece of cardboard! De Ossorio was disgusted when he saw how little money and effort went into realizing that key climactic scene, remarking that it showed how little the producers cared about the quality level of their movies. But in spite of it all, De Ossorio managed to turn out some very original, well-crafted and genuinely creepy horror classics, and he will forever be numbered among the great Euro-Horror directors of history.

In his final years, he augmented his income by selling scary paintings of the Templar Knights to his fans. He died in 2001 from natural causes at the age of 82. He was interviewed for a 2001 documentary about his life entitled "Amando de Ossorio: The Last Templar" just a short time before he died. His 4 "Blind Dead" films are now available in a deluxe DVD box set, and most of his other horror films are also available on excellent quality DVD's (with the exception of "Demon Witch Child" tragically).

In 2005, the spanish grindcore/death metal band Machetazo released "Sinfonías del Terror Ciego" a conceptual album about the films of Ossorio.

Amando De Ossorio Filmography

La Bandera Negra ("The Black Flag"), 1956 (drama)

La Tumba del Pistolero ("Grave of the Gunfighter"), 1964 (spaghetti western)

I Tre del Colorado ("Three From Colorado"), 1966; aka "Rebels In Canada" (spaghetti western)

Pasto de Fieras ("Field of Beasts"), 1967 (children's drama)

La Niña del Patio ("The Girl in the Yard"), 1967 (comedy)

Malenka, The Vampire's Niece ("Malenka, El Nipote Del Vampiro"), 1969; released on video as "Fangs of the Living Dead"

Tombs of the Blind Dead ("La Noche del Terror Ciego"/ "Night of the Blind Terror"), 1971 (the first of the "Blind Dead" films)

Night of the Sorcerers ("La Noche de los Brujos"), 1973

Return of the Evil Dead ("El Ataque de los Muertos Sin Ojos"/ "Attack of the Blind Dead"), 1973 (the 2nd "Blind Dead" film)

The Loreley's Grasp ("Las Garras de Lorelei"), 1974; released on video as "When The Screaming Stops"

The Ghost Galleon ("El Buque Maldito"), 1974; released on video as "Horror of the Zombies" (the third "Blind Dead" film)

Night of the Seagulls ("La Noche de las Gaviotas"), 1975, released on video as "Night of the Death Cult", or "Don't Go Out At Night" (the 4th "Blind Dead" film)

Demon Witch Child (1975) Original Spanish title: "La Endemoniada" ("The Possessed")

Las Alimañas ("The Animals"), 1976 (X-Rated)

Pasión Prohibida ("Forbidden Passion"), 1980 (X-Rated)

The Sea Serpent ("Serpiente del Mar"), 1984 (alternate title: "Hydra, Monster of the Deep")

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