CRAWLER’S CHAOS: The People Who Own the Dark (1976)
This Spanish film directed by Leon Klimovsky, was kind of like a Holy Grail to me; I’d heard about it, seen posters all over Ebay, and read up on what sounded like an excellent story, but there was no DVD releases or any decent priced VHS sales. It took me a few years until I managed to get a hold of it, when I bought a DVD copy transferred from a VHS for a fiver. It was a few months to get round to watching it, but when I did it was a blast. It was nothing like I expected; is that a good thing or a bad thing? Half-and-half really.
We meet Paul Naschy as Bourne, minus joke shop werewolf hair, and shooting the same bird three times whilst drinking scotch from a table in a field and acting very business like. We then meet other businessmen and women who are planning on meeting up at a manor house in the middle of the countryside. We have doctors, psychiatrists, etc. The reunion goes on and they all decide to head to the cellar and perform a ritual whilst wearing assorted rubber masks (!!??!). Suddenly, a low rumble splits the ceiling and goes on getting louder. Heading back into the house, a pigeon is flying wildly into the wall, its eyes totally white, as are the maids – a similar appearance to Emily in The Beyond. The phones and radios are dead, and they are isolated.
“The idiots! The fools! Huh Huh!”, exclaims a cast member when they figure out that they’ve missed a nuclear explosion. To avoid the oncoming radiation clouds, they plan to stock up on supplies and hide in the cellar for a month or two. This means heading to the local village where they discover the survivors are blind and very desperate for help and are protective of their food. This problem isn’t helped when one of the rich lads decides to stab a blind villager who stumbles around sightlessly with a rifle. Most of the villagers are in the church bouncing off the walls all wearing sunglasses or bandages to save on contact lenses. The same rich lad decides to open fire on a few, and you know all hell will break loose soon.
Back at the manor, one doctor cracks and becomes a sort of fat, bearded, naked gibbering lunatic on all fours. This scene is incredibly random; out of nowhere, he scuttles by a doorway all nude. Two younger cast members take their chance by heading to the village and find out just how mad the blind villagers have become; they are beaten to death by sticks. Soon the crowds are surrounding the manor and begin an Assault on Precinct 13 siege, heavily inspired by Night of the Living Dead… hands through the door, that sort of thing.
If you can ignore the plot holes and lack of reality, there is much to enjoy here. Some scenes are quite tense as characters sneak around rooms filled with the blind. The film is bloodless, apart from a brief eye gouging and one or two bullet shots. Paul Naschy takes a step back and Alberto De Mendoza takes central place as Professor Fulton. It’s all rather predictable if you’ve seen endless zombie or post radiation movies, or even Romero’s The Crazies, but it is enjoyable. Be in a charitable mood.
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