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Amando de Ossorio
María Elena Arpón
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During World War II, a small German squadron was assigned the task of carrying a shipment of Nazi gold across the African desert. Along the way, the squadron was ambushed by the Allies, and only one American soldier, Robert, survived. Years later, Robert tells his story to a German treasure hunter named Kurt, who promptly murders him. Robert's son, upon learning of his father's death, vows to travel to Africa and find the lost gold himself. While the desert is hazardous enough by itself, the dangers lurking around this oasis are more than any of the treasure hunters ever imagined. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Granted: It's not Romero, and it's not Fulci... but I think it's worth a look.
I first saw this film when I was about eight or nine. It was at a "99 Cent Video" store in Hesperia, California, and I went there with one of my parents. I always liked to comb through the horror section of video stores (and I still do). I guess I have always had some kind of (morbid?) fascination with that section of the store. Seeing all the horrific video box covers, old films and new, sitting their on the shelves -- I had more fun and more chills reading the back of those video boxes -- films such as "The Seven Doors of Death" (and, yes, I know that is actually a heavily cut version of "The Beyond" by Fulci) or "Zombie Lake", "Slaughter High", or another ghastly title (a lot of them hard to find, and ones that you'll probably never find again) -- and imagining what the particular film would be like to watch then actually watching the film itself. It was in this store that I came across Jess Franco's "Oasis of the Zombies". It was the Filmland distribution copy, and the brief, paragraphic summary on the back of the box was just as said. I don't know how, but one way or another I (conned?) my parent into renting it for me. I got home, popped it in, and began watching it. Let me diverge from the track for a minute by saying that lots of commentors on this film have said that is was "boring".
Now, I can't recall it being boring -- of course, I was only eight or night, and this film was one of those ghastly oddities from the horror section, and I had the luxury of actually being able to view it... so I was hooked. I didn't remember a lot about the film -- that is to say, about the story -- but what I did remember of it was what would come to be a graphic standard of the genre: a scene where the star zombies were making blue plate specials out of some campers in the desert. It was stomach churning, it was gruesome, yet at the same time I was covering my face with my hands, was I was looking between my fingers, I continued to watch it with that same, weird fascination.
That was also when one of my parents walked in, took one look at the movie and scene I was witnessing, said "Unh-ugh,", and turned it off, and that was the end of that.
Ten years passed before I would be able to find and watch that movie again. I didn't remember the title, and I didn't remember the story -- but I had always remembered what the box looked like, and that gory zombie luncheon scene had definitely stuck with me in the back of my mind. So, armed with that much knowledge, I had always searched different video stores during those ten years just on the chance that I might find it, and, low and behold, in August of 2001, at a video discount store in Simi Valley, California (you know, one of those places that has racks and racks of all different kinds of films for low prices), I found it without even looking for it. Same box, same everything.
I bought it for a couple of bucks, popped it in, and watched it. And I didn't see what was so bad about it. Sure, it had a very low budget, and perhaps the acting was at times mediocre, but, all in all, I still felt it was a nice effort by an apparently notorious director -- I was just as intrigued watching the film as I was ten years earlier at any rate. As I said, many have said it was boring -- particularly the "flashback time-filler". I've come to attach these type of comments from this and other films of the genre to those persons that I like to refer to as "gorehounds". They like zombie movies, they LOVE zombies movies, but the only thing they love about them, apparently, is the gore, and that's all. Now, perhaps I'm wrong here, but I felt that there was a decent attempt at concentration on the STORY here. Sure, there was a long flashback sequence -- but I don't see how it could be boring. Most of it depicted a heavy gun battle. What's boring about something like that? And so what if it did have a flashback sequence? "The Green Mile" and "The Bounty", as other films, were both told in flashback for the entirety of them. I'm not comparing this film to those wonderful cinematic events, but why don't people give old Jess a break? He gave it his best with what he had. Which is what most filmmakers do -- otherwise they wouldn't be taking the time to do it. Yes, by today's standards, this film probably is boring. But this is a foreign film, remember, and it's also twenty years old, and people had longer attention spans then.
Give this underrated film a showing if you have about an hour and a half to spare -- and don't be a gorehound and watch this film for the blood and guts; watch it for the atmosphere, which I feel it's loaded with. Pay attention to the story, because there just so happens to be a little one whether you like it or not, and you might just find yourself getting drawn into it. I quote the man on the camel at the end of this film. He asks one of the survivors of the zombie attack: "Did you find what you were looking for?" The survivor replies: "Yes... but I think I mostly found myself." Maybe you'll find a neat little gem of a movie here. Give it a chance. Granted: It's not Romero, and for all you gorehounds out there it may not be a Fulci... but I think it's worth a look.
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