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The most seen (although not exactly appreciated) film of French producers Eurocine- responsible for numerous sex, horror, spy and adventure films. In their Seventies heyday Eurocine seemed like the illegitimate child of sensational pulp paperbacks of the Fifties and Sixties. Always put together cheaply and rough looking but always with great packaging, embracing the sort of lurid subjects that always grabbed the public's attention, if not their intelligence. With Zombie's Lake, subjects didn't come more sensational than `mad murdering Zombies' ogling and picking off semi-nude women. During the end of the Second World War, the French resistance manages to dispose of the local Nazis and throw their bodies into the lake of the title. The lake was previously used for witchcraft, so many years later the (green!) undead Nazi Zombies are rising from the lake, and chewing down on the most of Eurocine's repertory players including the director (putting in a cameo as a detective). Oh and you just have to mention their attack on the local female netball team, all of whom just love to go swimming naked in the lake, even though its possibly the most dirtiest lake ever committed to celluloid. On the side of the living are local villagers lead by the Mayor (the late, great Howard Vernon) who gets the immortal line `we better face the facts that the Zombies have declared war'. Along the way we're treated to some truly appalling makeup and lots of fun in watching drunken looking Frenchmen with green muck on their faces pretend to terrorise people. The films most notorious moment rests with the nude swimming scenes viewed from the Zombie's point of view at the bottom of the lake, and accompanied to Europop at its most wincing (`la, lala, lala la la'). Just to make your life that little more miserable, many versions of the film are missing all the nude scenes, being replaced by softer out-takes of the girls in ghastly ill- fitting underwear. Otherwise the bane of this prosperous films existence is the subplot a `touching' relationship between a little girl and her Nazi /Zombie dad. Largely unnecessary to the film although when you realise that the little girl (Anouchka Lesoeur) is the daughter of the producer it becomes obvious why its there. On a technical level the film is a nightmare, Eurocine in the best `recycled vinyl blues' tradition couldn't make a new hit film without recycling several others. Hence the main theme music is taken from Eurocine's Female Vampire, and the WW2 footage from a war film (Convoy of Girls aka The Depraved Third Reich to be precise). Backstage tales of how quick and cheap the movie was put together are legion - the original director Jesus Franco disappeared before the film started, leaving his replacement Rollin with a two week shooting schedule and a script he hadn't even read. Given these conditions that any aspect of the film is memorable is remarkable. Perhaps its better to view the film's merits- compared with its forgetable `cousin' The Oasis of the Zombies- the film Jesus Franco did make when the Eurocine producers caught up with him, which resurrects the Nazi Zombie theme as well as lots of recycled WW2 footage. Both remain the two directors worst commercial work, but Oasis is a stone dead boring 90 minutes, while Zombie's Lake is full of many absurd moments that keep the film from ever being dull and the green zombies are a hoot. Although only recommended to the truly die-hard the end results are a perversely entertaining last blast from the golden era of the European horror movie.
Really can't say anything clear about this movie because it just leaves me breathless. The laughter is a thing you won't be able to control on this atrociously awful turkey, where zombies are rapists, and lose their green make up behind the ears. Maybe they made this movie to see if they managed to make the worst movie ever, because it is a pretty good candidate to the title. This movie is probably the equivalent of used toilet paper, it looks as it's been made by a alcoholic butcher with the sexual appetite of a 18 year old. See it, it is absolutely unmissable, the crap is everywhere, and probably it was made on purpose: even the gunshots are out of sync! Don't miss the lake scenes, where the women are standing in a shallow water but the underwater shots show them swimming with water by their necks! Incredible piece of bad moviemaking, see it to believe that there are movies like this one!
To my knowledge there are technically three underwater Nazi zombie movies.
The father of the other two is Shockwaves and really the only one worth
viewing. An odd spin off from this film is Oasis of the Zombies and Zombie
Lake. Le Lac des morts vivants (Zombie Lake) was a project with Jesus
Franco's involvement and directed by Jean Rollin. Although I personally am
not too fond of Jean Rollin's work and definitely despise the hack work of
Jess Franco, a man who has never made a movie that could keep me
I honestly couldn't believe Rollin had anything to do with this project.
the outset the movie is horrible, but not nearly horrible enough to keep
Jess Franco from remaking the insipid piece of cinematic waste again as La
Tumba de los muertos vivientes (Oasis of the Zombies), which had the more
interesting moniker of The Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies at one time or
Jean Rollin apparently understands one standard of z-grade horror, if the movie you find yourself directing has not one single redeeming feature at all, just pad the movie with ample gratuitous nudity and most viewers will be so distracted they may not notice how horrible the film actually is. Modern directors should take note of this since 99 percent of horror films made after 1986 are boring and virtually unwatchable and won't go lowbrow because the director thinks he has integrity. Hint, if you're directing a lame, boring film that is going directly to video anyway and can't fix it or at least make it interesting you have no cinematic integrity.
Rant aside, Zombie Lake is loaded to the gills with naked woman that just throw caution (and their clothes) to the wind at the sight of this undead infested pond. Naturally the zombies swim around and eliminate all comers in a decidedly stiff and mostly bloodless fashion. The lake scenes are just awful and could well be used by film schools as a glaring example of how to completely destroy anything resembling film continuity. We have naked ladies splashing in knee-deep water. Cut to the zombies completely submerged walking under the girls' thrashing legs. Cut back to knee-deep water then back to them swimming and freely floating in ten feet of water above the zombies. Back and forth we cut between the lake shots and the underwater shots probably filmed in the deep end of Jess Franco's swimming pool. Add to this mixture horrible zombie makeup, dull acting, a plot scripted by a highly evolved plankton, Jess Franco, and you have all the trappings of a complete disaster of a film the has Jean Rollin's name on it. This film runs neck and neck with Oasis of the Zombies for being the worst zombie film ever. Oasis of the Zombies lacks even gratuitous nudity but has other redeeming qualities. Both movies are truly awful and even the cheese factor isn't high enough to warrant humorous jibes at it. Princesse de l'érotisme Christina (Virgin Among the Living Dead) is still worse than Zombie Lake by light years however and it is, you guessed it, another Jess Franco project. Fortunately the underwater Nazi zombie movie genre played itself out after just a few movies and actually should have ended with Shock Waves. Given with the state of Hollywood these days it should only be another year or so before Zombie Lake is remade by some flash in pan director that is completely devoid of any of his own ideas. It will probably be remade with a multi-million dollar budget and will still be awful or even worse than the original. Is that possible? Oh yes, very possible.
Worst zombie ever made? Not even close. Hunt down Joel Reed's magnificent
Night of the Zombies. Watch it. Watch it again. Burn it and scatter the
ashes. Then watch Zombie Lake.
Note that Zombie Lake has lovely shots of the scenic French countryside; educational underwater gynecological shots of an entire girls' basketball team; a recognizable sub-plot; one or two actors who can actually distort their faces into "expressions." Night of the Zombies has NONE of these, NONE.
Did I mention the underwater photography?
However, I understand that there are versions of Zombie Lake out there that lack both the amazing Sea Hunt sequence and many of the heartwarming nay-nay shots. Ha! That's like a special edition of GoodFellas with Joe Pesci edited out. You get one of these versions, you put up with it, you might as well write, "Please Don't Hurt Me" on your forehead in pink lipstick and check into the nearest Federal prison. Wuss. Gimp.
Let's clear one thing up first, if you want a good zombie horror movie then
go rent something else. If you are looking for nonstop naked Euro babes and
unintentional laughs in the form of terrible dubbing and FX, then look no
further. Considering director Jean Rollin isn't exactly a hack and has made
quite a few interesting and stylish horror films, why does THIS have to his
best-circulated film in America?
Here's a taste of what you're in for gang...
Nazi soldiers shot and killed during WWII rise from a lake and terrorize the citizens of a picturesque, small French town. The green-faced flesheater make-up could easily be the worst ever. It opens with a very long segment featuring a naked woman walking around, sunbathing, then swimming. Zombie POV shots show her doggy paddling around for what seems to be an hour before she is pulled under. In another scene, a zombie stalking a woman has normal hands, but when he attacks and kills her his hands are suddenly green. My favorite part is when an all-girl basketball team arrive in a van ("Come on out girls! HAHA!"), strip naked and splash around in the lake. Underwater shots capture them from all angles before they get killed. Howard Vernon, Europe's answer to John Carradine, stars as a mayor who tells a reporter in flashback the fate of the zombie soldiers. OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (1981) has a similar theme and was made by the same crew, but different director (Jesus Franco). Both are insufferably terrible!
Score: 1 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After much curiosity about this film, I rented it for a weekly movie night
with a friend of mine. I even told her, "This is going to be bad, but we
should just see it." So we popped it in as the first movie of the night (the
suspected worst goes first)and sat back to watch the cheese.
By the end, I was wondering what the hell this movie was trying to do. In the beginning minute, even before the credits are over, a woman is completely nude and sunbathing and skinny-dipping. And you aren't spared of any of her. And it was sort of creepy with the zombie coming out and killing her. (Like that wasn't obvious.)
From then on, it gets really weird and boring. The chief of police in the small village near the lake keeps trying to figure out some mysteries of the woman's death, and a journalist comes to town to do a story about the lake. And then there's this way too long flashback of the story of the lake, but still, nothing is explained, and then a women's volleyball team gets to the lake and gets naked before getting killed off, all except one who gets away in a pair of short-shorts.
Then the whole movie goes into this timid versian with this little girl and her zombie father. It gets worse and worse until the boring climax and "tearful" ending. Avoid this if you are looking for a horror movie. If you want unending scenes of female nudity and a completely boring porno-like movie, then get this. You will be pleased. But overall, this movie is terrible, and should have been left in France.
Jean Rollin´s ("The Living Dead Girl") "Zombie Lake" is a giant laughfest, however a very entertaining one! The story (Yeah, what story?!?) is about a squad of German Gestapo soldiers who were killed by a bunch of French partisans and afterwards sank in a lake. Twelve years later they rise as living dead and take merciless revenge... As I said, a very cheesy flick, because the quality of this film is on not higher than amateurish level: the zombie´s faces were painted with green color, the acting is a joke, the camera is permanently wobbling and the location also could be the dump where I´m living in! The main attraction is when a bus of young chicks arrives at the lake, the girls take off their clothes, rush into the water and then get munched by the dead one by one! Absolutely hilarious!! You don´t have to wonder when you´ll notice that the script was written by sleaze master Jess Franco..! However, the liked the underwater shots and the WW2-flashback was well-executed, too! Finally another great party movie, extremely enjoyable when you´re drunk, and an absolute icon of bad taste!!!
In World War II, in a small village in France vanquished by the German
army, a local woman has a love affair with one soldier and they have a
daughter, Helena. One day, the German soldiers are ambushed and killed
by the French Resistance and their bodies are thrown into a lake.
Ten years later, the soldiers become an army of undead attacking the locals. The Mayor, who was part of the resistance, organizes a posse with a flamethrower, to destroy the living dead, and uses the girl Helena to help them.
"Le Lac des Morts Vivants" is another hilarious low-budget horror-trash by Eurocine from the 70's and 80's recently released in Brazil on DVD with attractive cover. Everything is absurd in this film, from the story and screenplay to the direction, acting, make-up and cinematography (the exception are the underwater scenes); but controversially I have enjoyed and had lots of fun watching this trash. Although not responsible for the direction, the touch of Jesus Franco is visible. My vote is four.
Title (Brazil): "O Lago dos Zumbis" ("The Zombie's Lake")
This film can get pretty amusing at times in its ridiculousness. I gave
it an extra point just for the subplot which while silly was an unusual
touch that added something to this otherwise awful film.
Zombie fans often list this film as THE WORST zombie film ever (Jess Franco's Nazi zombie film "Oasis of the Zombies" is similarly categorized for its awfulness). There are equally bad and even worse zombie films, as hard as it may be to believe if you haven't seen them before this (shot on video backyard films like "Stink of Flesh" or Super8mm epics like "Dead Life" come to mind). Jean Rollin made a better not-quite-zombie story with the tainted vineyard plague film "Grapes of Death" which I recommend over this and which had vague similarity to Romero's "The Crazies". If you want a decent Nazi zombies film, check out Ken 'RotLD2' Wiederhorn's "Shock Waves" instead.
Now back to the bad movie at hand: This is a low point for Jean Rollin, a well-known Eurotrash filmmaker who made some visually interesting and atmospheric films, of which this is not one. The overwhelming amount of nudity here seems fairly typical for him (he did make some lesbian vampire films, after all) but the atmosphere does not remind me of other work of his I have seen. It took me a couple sittings to make it through this garbage, but it did have its moments. How many times have you seen zombies attempt hand to hand combat, even using a knife? Sadly there are not enough of these painfully silly moments to rescue this film to the 'so bad its good' list.
ZOMBIE MAKEUP: green hands & face paint with movie blood, which often washes off in underwater scenes which seem to be shot in a swimming pool with a greenish curtain backdrop.
DE-ANIMATION METHOD: Napalm them to dust with a flamethrower! ZOMBIE FEASTING?: these are what I call 'necking zombies'. They don't feast in traditional Romero or O'Bannon sense; they simply chew at necks and drink blood like they are pretend vampires. Their victims, however, do NOT turn into zombies.
STORY: During the OP credits we see an attractive woman strip down for a skinny dip in a lake like a bad attempt to recreate a scene out of 'Jaws' or 'Piranha'. She ignores a warning sign by knocking it over. It's not a simple 'no swimming' sign mind you, but a skull and crossbones that would seem to indicate some reasonable level of danger. Needless to say, she gets killed by a zombie. Another village woman gets killed and her father pays the mayor a visit wanting it investigated.
The mayor tells a visiting reporter about the haunted lake with some mumbo jumbo about black magic sacrifices being done there and Nazis killed by the local resistance whose bodies were dumped there for hiding. Now the Nazis are back as zombies killing locals.
A van packed with a girls' basketball team strips down for full frontal underwater footage (while indescribably bad cheesy music plays) and the girls are attacked by zombies whose makeup is coming off almost as quick as the girls' clothes did. Inept horror movie cops are dispatched to investigate.
***WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD*** There's a young girl whose daddy was a German soldier killed in a local battle right after her mommy died in her childbirth. Now daddy comes back from his watery grave to meet her and protects her from other zombies including being attacked by a knife-wielding zombie. Yes, you read that right! The zombies also attack villagers with sideways karate chops. Go figure.
Enlisted to help solve the locals' walking dead problem, the zombie's daughter asks for a whole lotta blood to set a trap for them, but she wants her daddy spared. Her guardian convinces her that daddy zombie WANTS to die (probably to escape from being trapped in this awful movie). During the final zombie rampage through town, the reporter follows a movie tradition of stupidly needing to get that all-important photo shot.
This movie is schlock of the highest order, but you'd expect that the copious amounts of nudity would save it, right? Wrong! If you want nudity, rent a porno - a film like "Debbie Does Dallas" is likely to be better acted, scripted, and directed than Le Lac des morts vivants, a.k.a. Zombie Lake. This is a tedious hackwork. I knew it was going to be crap when I saw it, but I figured, it's got lots of 80's babes going skinny dipping, so how bad can it be? The answer was: extremely bad. This is a new low in zombie movies, and quite possibly the worst of its kind. Yes, I said it: 'Zombie Lake' is worse than 'House of the Dead'. At least the latter had a tiny, tiny bit of entertainment value. This is dreary, overlong, and just plain dull! It's the movie equivalent of Ben Affleck. It's like a Bergman movie without the fun.
The plot concerns a zombie dad who looks like a cross between Edward Scissorhands and The Mask. He rises from his watery grave to search for his daughter, who was supposedly born during the second world war but must have suffered some kind of disease that caused her to stop aging for about 30 years. Sound like fun yet? Good, because that's as much plot as you're gonna get. This movie might be worth watching for the nekkid women, but I just barely got through it once and you should be either drunk, stoned, very horny and alone, or all of the above before attempting to tackle this atrocity.
The eighties, man, the eighties. Those were the days. Only then could you build an entire movie around the subject of boobies. Wow.
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