We’ve all heard of haunted houses. It’s one of the go-to locations for old horror films. But some ghosts aren’t content to just inhabit a creaky old house. They want the adventure of the high seas! Why have a haunted house when you can have a haunted ship!? Well that’s exactly what we get today in this Spanish spook story from 1974. Sometimes called Horror of the Zombies, sometimes called Ship of Zombies, for our purposes today it’s known as The Ghost Galleon.
The horror begins with two swimsuit models…yes, swimsuit models, out on a boat for a publicity stunt. Apparently the businessman who arranged this, Howard Tucker (Jack Taylor), figures the media will go nuts for buxom beauties lost at sea. Unfortunately, the ladies run across a mysterious fog and then a run down ship. It turns out that on the ship are the remains of the Knights Templar who emerge from their crypts each night. The hooded skeletons, though very slow, manage to bring about the end of both models.
Meanwhile, another model friend of the girls, Noemi (Barbara Rey) has tracked down Tucker and intends on getting to the bottom of things. Along with a few others, including a scientist called Professor Gruber (Carlos Lemos), they set out to find the girls. The professor, though, warns of legends of a ghost galleon that lurks the waters. They end up finding the ship and start getting picked off one by one as the skeleton come to life each night.
The Ghost Galleon begins in very silly fashion. I mean the fact that several of the primary characters are models is clearly just to give a justifiable reason to have ladies in bikinis in the film. The first scene of the film is a fashion shoot where the models are given instructions like, “Alright now, lean back and stick ‘em out.” The line is made funnier given the fact that the dialogue is dubbed.
Despite the silliness, the basic premise of the film is actually pretty good. The ghost ship is a cool set that is effectively creepy. The skeletons have a great sinister look to them, as well. I do wish they didn’t all look exactly the same, though. I actually couldn’t help but see some similarities between this ship and its crew and the crew of the Black Pearl in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. However, even though the skeletons in this film have a nice look, they are awfully slow and clunky. They just reach their arms out and slowly lumber toward their intended victims. I’m pretty sure anybody with half a brain could shove three of these boneheads overboard before the others even noticed what happened. Even when, SPOILER, they drag Noemi below deck it takes stinkin’ forever!! It’d be scary if it were’t so ridiculous.
Again, I like the ship full of zombies idea…but that’s about all this film had to go on. They give us a zombie cruise ship but nobody seems to have known what to do after that. With a limited number of possible victims and a confined space for the horror to take place in, there just aren’t all that many possibilities for terror. The one really promising development comes right as the end when the skeletons start to go ashore. But then the movie ends and we’re left realizing that nothing much happened over the last 90 minutes.
So, The Ghost Galleon does get some points for having good horror atmosphere and some cool skeletons. However, the film gets a bit silly and ends up going nowhere. Next time, book a Disney cruise.