"Tonight They Will Return !"
The second of Amando De Ossorio's Blind Dead films 1973's Return of the Evil Dead is pretty much regarded as the best one in the series (it’s my favorite) and its success along with the first one led to the rush release of the rather lake luster 3rd entry The Ghost Galleon in 1974. Unlike Tombs of the Blind Dead which has a slow build-up to the first appearance of the Templars, Return starts off with bang and never lets up as the Blind Dead make their first appearance 15 minutes in. As with the next two movies in the series Return changes the mythos & origin of the zombie Templers are changed (in fact each movie can almost be viewed as re-imaging of the first one).
Starting again with a flashback sequence showing the torture & sacrifice of a young woman by the knights, this time around locals from the nearby village of Berzano storm the monastery and burn out the knights eyes out before putting everything to torch with the leader of the Templars swearing revenge from the grave. Flash forward 500 years and the citizens of Berzano are getting ready to celebrate the anniversary of the knight’s destruction (complete with fireworks & a burning puppet show for the kiddies). Jack Marlow (Tony Kendall) shows up to supervise the fireworks display and meets up with an old flame of his Vivian (Esther Roy) which incurs the suspicion of the corrupt town mayor (Fernando Sancho) as he’s got designs on her also and rules over the town like a little fiefdom.
Stealing off to the ruins of the mortuary Jack & Vivian start to re-kindle their relationship when they’re surprised by Murdo a halfwit cripple who’s the caretaker of the mortuary who warns them of the old Templar curse - “Tonight they will return!” Later the town commences with the celebration and the embittered Murdo (who earlier had been taunted by of some of the local kids) kidnaps a village girl and sacrifices her over the burial ground of the Templars and they began to rise of their tombs. Mounting their “zombie” horses the Blind Dead set off for the town.
Meanwhile Jack has talked Vivian to run away with him but on the way they meet up with a survivor from the Templar’s initial attack on her house who warns them of the oncoming terror. Heading back to town they a arrive just as The Templar's descend upon the partying townsfolk slashing & hacking their way thru the festivities. Jack and Vivian along with the mayor and some other townsfolk barricade themselves in a church with the mayor showing himself to be a real low level scum as he sacrifices various people in attempt to escape (including a terrifying sequence with a small girl that ranks as one of the series best moments of horror).
For the most part Ossorio keeps the whole thing moving at a terrific pace not allowing it to get bogged down with extra plot devices that sometimes saddle the other films in the series. By keeping the focus on the Blind Dead the movie succeeds in keeping the horror & atmosphere front center and while it does tone down the nudity a bit (of course this being a Blind Dead film there has to be a rape - but only attempted here) while amping up the blood (especially in the Spanish version - both this and the somewhat tamer U.S. version are on the Blue underground DVD). A wonderful slice of terror from the golden age of Spanish horror.