Amando de Ossorio, 1975
Starring: Víctor Petit, María Kosti, Sandra Mozarowsky, Julia Saly
A doctor and his wife move to an isolated coastal town, where he is to begin a medical practice. They are at worst rudely shunned by the villagers and at best ignored by them for reasons they can’t quite discover. One night they hear what seems to be a party on the beach and soon learn that every seven years, undead, evil Knights Templar rise from the sea and the town must sacrifice a virginal woman for seven knights in a row. Along with Teddy, the village idiot, the doctor saves a young woman, not realizing he has just doomed them all.
Also known as Don't Go Out at Night is the fourth and final film in the Blind Dead series written and directed by Amando de Ossorio. As with the third film, The Ghost Galleon, Ossorio’s script for Night of the Seagulls is more inspired than the second entry in the series, Return of the Blind Dead. Where Ghost Galleon borrowed loosely from legends about ghost ships, Night of the Seagulls has a mythic feel to it. The plot centers around the sacrifice of a virgin every seven years, tied to the rocks like Andromeda and the sea monster. I absolutely love this element of the script and while I felt the film could have gone a lot further – much like Ghost Galleon it is pretty tame in terms of nudity and violence – it is still a successful effort in the Blind Dead series.
Though there are some great locations in the first film, I think this might have the most impressive set over all. It’s hard to top a castle on a cliff overlooking the sea or a crumbling old coastal village. The atmosphere is consistently dark and gloomy, though there aren’t quite as many scares as in the first films. The scenes of black-clad women leading a procession down the beach to chain a virginal girl in all white to the rocks is very effective. One of the best moments of violence involves the Templars ripping the heart out of a woman’s chest and offering to some unmentioned deity, perhaps Satan (or Cthulhu or a Greek sea monster).
Where the other films had slightly different variations on why the Templars were cursed to become the undead, this film refreshingly doesn’t bother with an explanation, because chances are, if you’ve seen Night of the Seagulls, you’ve seen the others first. And, if you’ve seen the other films, you’ll know not to expect a lot from the acting or the often laughable dialogue.
The doctor is a sadly dull and unlikable protagonist, though actor Victor Petit does his best with the role. His lovely wife (Maria Kosty) wants to leave, but he refuses, presumably out of sheer stubbornness. The wife’s character is barely sketched out, while the townsfolk (including Teddy, the mentally-impaired man) are all either stereotypes or basic, two-dimensional outlines of characters. There are at least some welcome faces from genre regulars Maria Kosty (Night of the Sorcerers), Julia Saly (Night of the Werewolf), and the young Sandra Mozarowsky (School of Death).
Eurohorror fans will definitely want to check out Night of the Seagull, particularly anyone who enjoys the dreamy, vague, and atmospheric works of Jean Rollin. While it isn’t quite as lovely as some of his seaside films, there’s a lot to enjoy. It’s available in the wonderful Blind Dead box set, which includes all four films, special features, and is packaged in a coffin.