The Ghost Galleon (1974) poster

The Ghost Galleon (1974)


aka Horror of the Zombies
(El Buque Maldito)

Spain. 1974.


Director/Screenplay – Amando de Ossorio, Producers – J.L. Dermudez de Castro, Photography – Raul Artigot, Music – Anton Garcia Abril, Optical Effects – J. Santines, Special Effects – Pablo Perez, Makeup – Carlos Paradela, Set Design – E. Torre de la Fuente. Production Company – Ancla Century Films.


Maria Perschy (Lillian Barbie), Jack Taylor (Howard Tucker), Barbara Rey (Noemi), Blanca Estrada (Kathy), Carlos Lemos (Professor Gruber), Manuel de Blas (Sergio)


The model Noemi goes to Lillian, who runs the agency that employs her, demanding to know the whereabouts of her roommate, another model Kathy. After Noemi threatens to go to the police to report Kathy missing, Lillian introduces her to Howard Tucker. Tucker has mounted a publicity stunt where Kathy and another model are abandoned at sea on a motorboat. As Noemi and the others listen in via radio, the two girls encounter a mysterious galleon that appears to be drifting abandoned. The two girls venture on board the galleon and then nothing more is heard from them. Tucker then mounts an expedition to find the galleon, joined by Lillian, Noemi and a professor who believes the ship exists in another dimension. Boarding the galeon, they discover that it contains the undead zombies of the blind Knights Templar.

This was the eleventh film from Spanish director Amando de Ossorio (1918-2001). de Ossorio had begun directing in the 1950s and from the late 1960s onwards began to specialise in horror. By far, de Ossorio’s most popular works were the Blind Dead series, featuring blind Knights Templar zombies. de Ossorio made four Blind Dead films, consisting of Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971), Attack of the Blind Dead/Return of the Blind Dead/Return of the Evil Dead (1973), The Ghost Galleon here and Night of the Seagulls (1975). Outside of the Blind Dead films, de Ossorio also made the genre likes of Malenka/Fangs of the Living Dead (1969), The Loreley’s Grasp/When the Screaming Stops (1973), Night of the Sorcerers (1974), Demon Witch Child (1975) and The Sea Serpent (1984).

The Blind Dead films were among some of the best of the films that came out in the first wave of Zombie Films in the immediate aftermath of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). The series had started extremely well with Tombs of the Blind Dead but soon lost its impetus through repetition. The Ghost Galleon was the third of the series. By this point, the film was being made on a noticeably low budget. There is a painfully obvious looking model of the galleon. The main set for the deck of the ship only looks to be about thirty feet across, amid which people somehow manage to wander off and get lost.

The Blind Dead in The Ghost Galleon (1974)
The Blind Dead rise aboard the ghost galleon

There is also a conceptual ridiculousness to the film. The plot is dependent on an improbable scheme where Jack Taylor decides he wants to abandon two models at sea aboard a motorboat. Quite what the purpose of this is – it is hinted at being some type of publicity stunt – is never made clear. The rest of the plot simply involves Jack Taylor, agency head Maria Perschy, model Barbara Rey (whose roommate is one of the missing girls) and professor Carlos Lemos setting out in search of and then boarding the galleon, whereupon they encounter the Knights Templar zombie risen from crates in the hold.

The scenes with the Knights Templar rising have a certain dead of midnight gloom to them as we watch the zombies slowly inexorability shuffling through the ship. On the other hand, the set up does not use the Knights Templar to their best, nor with the effectiveness they had in Tombs of the Blind Dead. The film is mostly notable for having inspired other films. The scenes with the haunted ghost ship drifting through the mist inspired John Carpenter with The Fog (1980), while the end image of the zombies coming up out of the surf made its imprint on the Nazi zombie film Shock Waves (1977) not long after this.

Trailer here

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