Templars of Terror: Crusading knights in old horror movies

I became confused a few days ago when watching an old foreign horror film from the 70s, Tombs of the Blind Dead, that I happened to come across. Hadn’t I already seen this? But I remembered it being called Night of the Seagulls and being just slightly different. With a little research I discovered that both films were part of a four-part series all about zombie Templars directed by Amando de Ossorio.

Tombs of the Blind Dead was the first in the series. It establishes a number of motifs that will be found throughout the rest of the series, including lesbians with complicated relationships, casual rape that is shrugged off by the victims, bloody sacrifices of naked women to Satan that involve torture, and of course, painfully slow-moving skeletal zombies in hoods and robes riding on horseback, looking for people to drain of their blood. It takes place in a ruined castle that once belonged to Satan-worshipping knights that were excommunicated by the Pope. I don’t think the word “Templars” is actually used in this film. Their symbol is the Egyptian ankh, an emblem of eternal life. It is revealed that they discovered the key to immortality through the drinking of blood. This film can be viewed in an English-dubbed version on YouTube.

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The second movie in the series is 1973’s Return of the Blind Dead, also called Return of the Evil Dead (unrelated to the American franchise Evil Dead). It does not appear to be available on any free video streaming websites, and it the only one in the set that I have not seen.

The third film is called The Ghost Galleon, and takes place on a ship that is somehow trapped in an infernal parallel dimension. Caskets full of Templar zombies are on board. They try to kill and drink the blood of people who accidentally come across the ship, which is invisible to those on the outside. The word “Templar” is used (although they are strangely said to be from the “16th” century, much later than the existence of the actual Knights Templar. There is even a scene where the main characters come across a Baphomet head: a human skull with ram’s horns. One of the characters states that “In the practice of black magic, the Satanists worship a skull with horns representing the Devil.” An English-language copy of The Ghost Galleon can be found on Dailymotion.

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Night of the Seagulls is also not available for free online. I have seen it though, and I did enjoy it. The Knights are on horseback again, this time taking in a weird little seaside village, taking a tribute of a young virgin from the townspeople every year on the beach. Parts of it are reminiscent of HP Lovecraft stories about small New England towns that worship strange fish-demons, such as in the short stories Dagon and The Shadow Over Innsmouth, including the worship of idols that resemble fish-creatures and frogs.

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There are a few other horror movies involving the Knights Templar that come to mind as well. One is Dario Argento’s The Church from 1989. In this, the knights are actually specified as “Teutonic Knights,” a rival order to the Templars. They are not shown worshipping the Devil, but rather persecuting a community of Devil-worshippers in medieval times, who are slaughtered and then thrown into a mass grave. A church is then built on top of the site “to imprison the demons within,” and rigged with a self-destruct mechanism that will cause the building to collapse within itself if those demons ever begin to escape–which, of course, they do. Baphomet heads show up twice in this film. You can watch it on YouTube, although with a watermark on it that some people have found intolerable.

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There’s also The Minion from 1998, which is about a gate to Hell located beneath a secret Templar property in Jerusalem, which the Knights have been tasked with guarding, even unto the present day, when at year’s end 1999, the anti-Christ attempts to escape from it. Presently, there is no good place to watch this film, which is no big loss.

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“Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? And be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

For seven centuries, the enigma of Baphomet has mystified both scholars and the general public. Did the Knights Templar really worship a demonic idol of that name? If so, what does the word mean? What is the origin of this figure? What was the nature of the rituals that the Templars performed in secret? What were their covert beliefs? And why, if the Templars initially described their idol as a mummified severed head, is this figure now represented as a hermaphrodite human with the head of a goat?

Authors Tracy R. Twyman and Alexander Rivera have dived head-first into the bottomless abyss of mystery and returned with some astounding wisdom to share. Here for the first time they reveal the genesis of these symbols, showing how they relate to the Witches’ Sabbath, traditions of Sufi Islam, alchemy, Gnosticism, cabalism, the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, and so much more.

Learn why the Templars and their beloved severed head are frequently associated with John the Baptist, and how this connects to his student, Simon Magus. Discover the known facts about things like the Chinon Parchment, the Book of the Baptism of Fire, the Templar Abraxas seals, and newly-found documents which claim that the Templars discovered the real Temple of Solomon during a secret trip to Mecca.

Join Twyman and Rivera on this exciting adventure into the unknown. Immerse yourself in this knowledge, if your heart has the strength. It is certain that your mind will never be the same.