Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Zombie Lake (1980)

Nazi Zombies have never been as boring as they are here, in Jean Rollin's masterpiece of snoozy schlock. During the Second World War, the Nazi's occupied a small french town adjacent to a small putrid lake. The french resistance fought them off, killed them and disposed of the bodies in the lake. Years later, with no explanation, those Nazi sons of bitches rise from the depths of the lake to eat naked french beauties....and a dude or two. It sounds fucking amazing, right?

Wrong. Still, is it worth checking out? If you're a guy, absolutely. there's enough virginal bush in this thing (all of it stunningly shot from the bottom of the local YMCA pool, which stands in for the pond during these shots. fuck, you can even clearly see the walls at times) to keep you occupied for at least ten or fifteen minutes. If you're a girl, stay far away (unless you're a lesbian). This movie has none of the details that make a good zombie picture; make up, shocks, gore effects. I think there were five zombies in the entire movie! Each kill was precisely the same. Zombie bites neck, a little red wine seeps out, moves on to next victim. The victims, to the best of my recollections, stay dead. If you're making a zombie picture, shouldn't the zombies turn people into, um...you know....zombies?

The best scenes of the picture were told in flashback as we're treated to the epic battle and, I suppose, the origin story of the Zombie Nazis. At this point, I realized that the entire movie (we're over halfway through) had about five lines of dialogue. I did love the battle scene enhanced by some lousy string music, meek explosions (I think they had prop guys throwing dirt in the air) and plenty of shooting from the hip (something I'm told you're not to do during war time). I actually thought these filmmakers took a time machine and shot a genuine WWII battle.

Cut back to present day and we're enthralled to learn that a naked women's volleyball team are now camping out at the lake. Time for a swim girls. I trust you left your razors at home? Probably the greatest scene in the movie as the camera moves back into the YMCA pool and we're treated to several shots of the Nazi Zombies just hanging out at the bottom as their green face paint washes away. You know, just hanging out and taking in the view of the pretty folliage floating on the surface above, as lake zombies are known to do from time to time. Then the zombies spring to life (these guys must have a severe case of priapism, by the way) and attack the team, before moving on to the town (and never increasing their numbers). At least we got to enjoy a few subtle nods to Frankenstein as the pretty-boy zombie decides he just wants some good, old fashioned, opposite sex companionship. Sorry boys. Unfortunately, he befriends a little girl and was later brought up on child pornography charges. Actually, the town formed a lynch mob instead as the mayor declared "we better face the facts, the zombies have declared war!"

The highlight of the movie is probably the Zombie knife fight or perhaps the eye penetrating scene reminscent of one done much better in Fulci's Zombi 2. Considering that this came out in 1980, the gore effects are extremely lousy. Especially when one considers what Tom Savini was doing at the same time (Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th, The Burning). There's a similarly themed movie that came out a few years earlier called Shock Waves that stars Peter Cushing and Brooke Adams. With a cast like that, how can it not be far superior to this piece of shit? Check out this tagline: Once they were almost human! Beneath the living....beyond the dead...from the depths of Hell's ocean! The deep end of horror! Almost human! Brilliant. This movie? It's a porno without the money shots. And, it nearly put me to sleep. Wasn't even that hammered, truth be told.


L. Simpson said...

Sounds like it had plenty of money shots to me. Perhaps this could be classified in the sub-genre of "zombie snuff films?"

brian said...

Actually, the more I think about it the one effective gory set piece I briefly mentioned (the scene where the eye gets penetrated) wasn't even in this movie. I was thinking of a scene in 'Nightmare City'. God, these movies are starting to bleed into one another!