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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is Jesus Franco's addition to the zombie boom of the early 80s. He
may be an exploitation director but is more a sleaze-monger than an out
and out horror film-maker. In this respect he is similar to Jean
Rollin, who was also roped into making a zombie film at the time. As a
result, Franco's Oasis of the Zombies and Rollin's Zombie Lake are
among the worst zombie films ever made.
The film begins with a couple of young women in tight denim shorts wandering around the cursed oasis while Franco goes into zoom overdrive. He zooms into all manner of irrelevant details throughout the movie. The girls are then attacked by the undead. The main story then unfolds. A WWII veteran knows the whereabouts of $6,000,000 of gold. He reveals that it is in the cursed oasis and is then killed by his partner, who wants it all to himself. The man's son Robert subsequently reads his diaries and discovers the secret of the gold bullion. He then travels to Africa with some friends in search of the booty. Unfortunately, the gold is guarded by zombies who previously were the German soldiers who were transporting it through the Sahara before being ambushed and wiped out by an Allied force led by the Robert's father.
There is a hypnotic effect evident while watching this movie. It is a result of the stultifying pace and the music. The soundtrack is certainly persistent. It has effectively been produced by someone with a Casio keyboard and no musical ability whatsoever. As I said, this, combined with the lengthy shots of people not doing very much at all, creates a hypnotic effect which, undoubtedly, will send some people to sleep. I thought it was kind of weird and, despite itself, occasionally effective. Hypnotic too, is the acting. Hypnotically rubbish that is. Worst of all is the actor who plays Robert. His remorse at his father's death is laughable. He receives the news in a manner similar to a man who has just been informed that the lawnmower he ordered is not available in green, only in turquoise. His emotional response to his father's death really is that inane. It has to be said that, as a central character, Robert is a complete cretin. Despite being warned about not going anywhere near the oasis, he leads his friends there anyway. Of course they are slaughtered. But Robert survives. And when asked if he found what he was looking for in the oasis he replies, 'I found myself'. What the hell does that mean? His journey to the oasis of zombies could hardly be described as a voyage of self-discovery. Unless, of course, he means he discovered he was a moron who was responsible for the death of his friends through negligence and idiocy.
The flashback scene showing the battle between the British and Germans is fun. It is a cheese-tastic fight with men dying in a highly comedic choreographed fashion. These men subsequently become the zombies that haunt the oasis. No explanation, however, is given for the fact that they now sport early 80's haircuts perhaps this is an effect of 40 years of zombification? I'm no expert, so I accept that this is possible. If Adolf Hitler came back as a zombie perhaps he would resemble Dr. Hook.
As far as the blood and guts side of things is concerned, there is a limited supply. The women are killed in a somewhat sleazy manner (this is Franco after all) with the zombies slavering over them. The men are killed in a more perfunctory fashion. The make-up is pretty cheap and cheerful. Some of the lead zombies look half-decent but most look like men who fell asleep at a party and were 'decorated' by their drunken friends.
I had some fun with this movie, despite the fact that I recognise its poorness. It has a cheapo Eurotrash feel to it that I, sadly, am a sucker for. If, however, you have more sense than me then you will be, no doubt, thoroughly appalled by this effort. And I would fully understand. But if you are inclined towards Euro-sleaze and/or bad cinema then dip in.
I watched this fully expecting, and even desiring a bad film, and happily a bad film is what I got, although it could have been a little more madcap for my liking. Oasis of the Zombies is a slow, often uneventful and somewhat inane film, but it has a curious mesmeric quality that kept me watching, often intrigued throughout. The music helped, it has a creeping atmospheric strangeness and it sounds as cheap as the film looks, thus complementing the images perfectly. The washed out print that I saw actually helped the imagery at times, making the colors sometimes slightly off and unreal looking. The acting is as low rent as it gets, as are the technical values and because of this there are many unintentional laughs to be had. I particularly liked the bit where a character mentions that it is night time and the insect noise on the soundtrack signifies this, but the scene is sufficiently well lit that it seems like merely late afternoon. Hearty hearty chuckles. For zombie fans there is little in the way of gore, but the zombies are pretty sweet, all decayed and insect ridden, a good gross appearance. Cheese fans are likely to love the flashback battle sequences and the fiery finish, although fans of zombies and cheese are likely to be put off by the slow pace. I really didn't mind this, it was my first Jess Franco picture, I had ultra low expectations and I found it watchable throughout, with some nice imagery, amusing dialogue and a couple of neato zombie attacks. The locations are cool, deserts, lots of sand, the oasis itself, and they make for a good setting for the action. Plus there are camels and who doesn't like camels? Most people seem to either outright really hate this one or try to enjoy it but end up saying it had potential but was still useless. Personally, I've seen far, far worse and I'd happily watch it again. Like another guy said, it effortlessly beats stuff like the abysmal Resident Evil or its sequels and its far more interesting than most big studio swill these days. So why not get a few icy cans of your brew of choice and check this out if you have the 85 minutes going. You might just like it.
There's not a whole lot to keep viewers enraptured with Oasis of the
Zombies. A couple of girls in short shorts ... some interesting zombie
make-up. That's about it.
The majority of the production comes across as a student film or a badly-staged Turkish action movie. There's a lot of day-for-night filming with no attempt to filter things to make it look even close to early evening. There's a tank running around with its turret spun so it is pointing at it's own troops while moving. And there are kids that are even more stupid then the dumbest kids in the cheapest American slasher flick.
The only thing to recommend in it is that there are some interesting make-up jobs on some of the Nazis. Other than that, and the cute girls that get killed early on, this movie's barely good for background noise if your radio's broken.
"Oasis of the Zombies" is the irrefutable proof that you should NEVER purchase horror movies judging by their cool-sounding titles and/or appealing DVD-covers! Lucky for me, I gained enough cynics (and Franco-experience) over the years in order to keep my expectations towards this one low, and I can only advise people to do the same. This movie is boring, poorly made and very UN-Franco! No sadism and a total lack of sleaze??? What's the matter, Jess? We follow the totally uninteresting treasure hunt of some youngsters in the African desert. During WWII, a Nazi-squadron carrying 6 million $ worth of gold supposedly got ambushed and the loot is still there. So are the Nazis, though, only they're rotten walking corpses now The little bit of gore and the zombie make-up effects are very OTT and the complete opposite of scary, yet they form the only mildly entertaining aspects of the entire movie. The undead look filthy and disgusting but their attacks appear to be filmed in slow motion! So incredibly tame! "Nazi-zombie"-flicks isn't a very rich horror sub genre, but at least the 1977 "Shock Waves" can be considered a modest classic. Heck, even that dreadful "Zombie Lake" is ten times more entertaining than this turkey. That movie might be retarded but at least it contained some exciting moments.
Okay, I'll just assume I'm entering a comment for the version of the movie I saw (though who really cares about accuracy with something like this?). "Oasis of the Zombies" has a sketchy, multiple-version history that is finely indicative of director Jess Franco's low-budget, schlockmeister style. I have never really cared much for this Spanish horror hack (though I do think "The Awful Dr. Orloff" is a well-done chiller), but what can I say..."Oasis" holds a weirdly special place in my genre heart. The reviews across the board are mostly condemning if not outright cursing this POS' existence, and I can see where they're coming from--make no mistake, this IS the bottom rung of the zombie ladder. Yet at the same time, this film engages me in some odd way--yes, it is two movies spliced together (sometimes quite badly), but I don't find it boring, or even all that bad. Granted, I've never seen a decent print of the film, the night scenes are either too muddy or too bright (yes, a few take place in broad daylight), the characterizations poor, and the zombie 'action' less than stunning. In the small subgenre of Nazi Zombie Films, "Oasis" falls between the Good ("Shock Waves") and the Ugly (Jean Rollin's "Zombie Lake"). 74 minutes into this 85-minute film, we get the signature image of zombies shambling up a dune against an orange sunset (or sunrise?), and it's the only moment of atmospheric artistry to be found. Still, for those who are inured to this kind of low-end Euro-dreck (myself included), "Oasis" is worth a look--in many ways, it is conceptually interesting enough to be a good remake candidate.
In the WWII, a platoon of German soldiers is attacked by the Allies in
an oasis and only the British Commander survives. The Sheik and his
daughter Aisha (Doris Regina) rescue him in the desert and bring him to
their house, where he recovers. Years later, the survivor tells to the
mercenary Kurt (Henry Lambert) that the German troop was transporting a
shipment of 6 million-dollar in gold and he informs the location of the
treasure. However Kurt kills him and organizes an expedition to find
Meanwhile the student Robert Blabber (Manuel Gélin) reads notes of his father and discovers that there is a treasure hidden in the desert. Robert joins his friends and they travel to the desert to seek the gold. However, when they reach the location, they are attacked by an army of German living dead.
"La Tumba de los Muertos Vivientes" is a lame and cheesy zombie movie by Jess Franco. This film is incredibly awful: story, screenplay, acting, dialogs, cinematography and special effects. The senseless exploitation in the beginning, with two women dressing very short Bermuda shorts is ridiculous. My vote is three.
Title (Brazil): "Oasis dos Zumbis" ("Oasis of the Zombies")
When someone says, "I like bad movies." you can see how sincere they are by subjecting them to anything Jesus Franco has ever made. Franco films are my meditation. They seem to numb my mind more than a crate of wine and a week of network television. This movie is classically Franco. It has a plodding pace, horrible voice overs, hot women, terrible lighting, deliriously bad camera work, a script written by a chimp, varying and disconnected ambient noise... Christ, Jess Franco is terrible and shamelessly I adore his films. They have the feel of a twelve year old with his first camera. His childishness is abound in this and really, all of his movies. He is a testament to tenacity (and hot women).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"La Tumba de los muertos vivientes" was the original film that Jess
Franco made(and has never appeared in English language to the best of
my knowledge), while "Oasis of the Zombies" is a different movie that
liberally lifted footage from "Tumba". However, to the best of my
memory, the bulk of "Oasis..." is NOT directed by Jess Franco despite
the deceptive packaging claim on the DVD box. (Shame on you Image!)
While "Tumba..." is the better of the 2 versions (kinda' like snot is
better than puke), I still can't really recommend it but to the most
forgiving Jess Franco fans. Supposedly Lina Romay is briefly in the
"Tumba" version somewhere.
I STAND CORRECTED! **SLIGHT Spoiler ALERT!** (added
I just put myself through the arduous task of watching both "La Tumba de los muertos vivientes" and "Oasis of the Zombies" back-to-back. Hey, sometimes we must suffer for art, right? Even if it isn't ours! (But I digress.)Basically these 2 versions are note for note identical with 2 big exceptions. I think what threw me was the use of battle scene footage which appears to have been taken from a different movie with a slightly bigger budget. Difference #1 is the score which, in "Tumba..." is by "Pablo Villa" whom I suspect is actually Jess Franco most of the time. The music in "Oasis..." is credited to composer Daniel White and is a lot more standard. Decent, but not as wacky sounds as Villa's. Difference #2 is that the couple who appear at the beginning of the film, Colonel Meitzell and his wife, are played by Eduardo Fajardo and Lina Romay in the Spanish version ("La tumba..."). However in the French / English dubbed version ("Oasis...") they are played by another couple. The Meitzell's appear in a later scene with 2 different henchmen from the Spanish version(when they go to the oasis to look for the treasure and are attacked by zombies). Whether or not these scenes were shot at the same time by Franco or later by another director I can't say for sure. But since there is some interaction between both couples and another of the main actors in both versions (Javier Maiza) I would guess that they were. The 2 scenes are the only thing different about the 2 versions footage-wise as far as I can tell and they are almost note-for-note the same apart from some minor differences. The biggest one being some guts that are seen pulled from Mrs. Meitzell during her attack in "Oasis...", whereas no guts are seen coming from Lina Romay's lovely stomach in "Tumba...". Also Maiza's character is murdered slightly differently (gun vs. poison injection). For what it is worth, the Spanish language DVD (Tumba) is a bit more dark looking then the US Image DVD release (Oasis). I know you all will sleep better tonight knowing all of this information. I'm not sure why all those years ago when I first saw this film that I had remembered "La Tumba..." seeming so different. All I can think is that I must have been slightly altered at the time, which I suggest you doing if you attempt to watch either of these versions.
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
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.
With the legendary stinker reputation that this Jess Franco fable
bestows (together with Jean Rollin's 'Zombie Lake'), I just could help
myself to see what all the fuss was about. To tell the truth I was
expecting something much, much worse when I got to the end of it, while
viewable (think along the lines of a crash car taking place and you
simply having trouble taking your eyes off it) I still couldn't deny
just how uninvolved, flat and dull it was despite being compelled.
This leery zero-budget schlock never captures the premise's promising idea (where it has Nazi zombies protecting the gold from anyone who enters the oasis in the African desert) and doesn't go anywhere we haven't already been before. The lack of money for the production wouldn't have helped, but the execution is clunky and tame on all fronts for something that needed to be more risqué (no gore or nudity). A repetitively slow-going mess with incoherent story-telling and woodenly wordy script is what comes about. It's hard to get excited seeing the same lingering zooms, ponderous actions and having to listen to Daniel White's lousy score of cringe-induced skews being dragged out.
The ultra-cheap FX work for the threatening zombies (who seem to like to croak and shuffle) look like there done up in scrappy papier-mâché, but it has a decaying quality to it that's effective. Murky, washed out photography and lack of lighting doesn't make good use of the exotically bone-dry locations or helping to figure out just when it's night or day. Atmosphere is non-existent, but there's one decent creepy image Franco pulls off involving zombie silhouettes' moving down the dunes with the sun setting (or was it rising) in the backdrop and an well-organised explosive war set-piece during the sequence we're learning about the history of the Oasis and it's dead protectors. Acting is poor (but there are some stunning women about), and the character's they play (mainly the college kids) are plain stupid.
A doggedly uneventful zombie film that just manages to hold a spell over you. I don't know how though?
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