Zombie Lake (1981)
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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.
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.
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")
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.
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.
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 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.
Basically, (by way of a flashback story), a bunch of Nazis are killed by the French resistance in world war 2 and their bodies are disposed of in a nearby lake. Roll credits please.
Anyway for no other reason apart from a pathetic script, these deceased soldiers are now zombies because of, oh who knows why, let's just say why the hell not and save on logic. These zombies decide to come to life several years or maybe decades later with green face paint, still brand new looking uniforms, ridiculous expressions and they start to take their revenge on some travelling female sports team who decide to get naked and go frolicking in the titular lake. So queue the back up team left over from Shock Waves to suddenly surface at this point and pull the naked screaming girls to a watery grave.
Somehow and seemingly much, much later, all these dead dudes are corralled in a warehouse or mill of some kind, it's burnt to the ground by local townspeople, take bath with toaster, kill self, the end!
I could make random guesses on why this got made, voodoo, gypsy curse maybe, director caught sleeping with boss' wife, who knows; maybe when this crap was being made they were attempting some kind of weird zombie/porn crossover cult film and failed dismally. Even with all the naked underwater shots and inappropriate zombie gropings going on, nothing except fire, lots and lots of heaven sent holy fire can save us from this.....whatever this is.
If you really want to punish yourself then watch this. If you really hate somebody at work, it becomes the perfect secret Santa gift.
Zombie Lake opens with a hot brunette sauntering over to the film's titular lake for a spot of skinny dipping, during which she is attacked by a zombie Nazi sporting green face paint that only extends as far as his jawline. The scene is gore-less, scare-less and technically inept (the underwater scenes having been filmed in what looks like a cunningly disguised swimming pool), but it does allow Rollin's audience to become very well acquainted with the girl's genitalia.
The sneaky vag shots and lame zombie attacks continue throughout the film, the lake continually drawing fit French fillies to its waters to frolic in the buff—and when the naked chicks are on screen, all's right with the world; but whenever Rollin tries conjure up a creepy atmosphere, scare his viewers, or inject some drama into proceedings, it all goes horribly wrong, becoming a painfully embarrassing and dreary exercise in how not to make a zombie film.
3 out of 10, all points awarded purely for the T&A, best scene being the arrival at the lake of an all-female basketball team, who strip off for a refreshing dip with inevitably disastrous results.
- A group of Nazi soldiers are gunned down by the locals in a small French village. Deciding they must hide the bodies as quickly as possible, the dead Nazis are thrown into the local lake. Twelve years later, several young females either go missing or turn up dead. Could it be the legend the locals call "The Ghost of the Lake"? The Nazis have come back as zombies to seek their revenge on the people of the village.
- There are a lot of bad movies, but Zombie Lake must surely be near the top of the heap. To start with, the pacing is non-existent. The movie gets off to a snails pace and goes downhill from there. By the time the flashback sequence rolls around, things come to a grinding halt. The acting is just as bad. I would be amazed to learn that anyone other than Howard Vernon ever had much of a career in acting.
- There are scenes in Zombie Lake that will amaze and astound. Some of the more memorable moments include:
* Zombies with ever changing skin color. When the zombies first emerge from the lake, the skin color is almost normal. Within a matter of minutes, the zombies are a fluorescent green. In some scenes, the whole head and neck are green. In the blink of an eye, only the face is green. * Zombies have feelings too. The sight of the love sick zombie staring hopefully at the house of his former lover is almost too much to take. * Zombies make good fathers. As if the love sick zombie wasn't enough, imagine a green faced zombie walking down the street holding his little girl's hand. * Boots are fascinating. The movie gives us several minutes of shots of zombie boots stumbling along a path. At first, they go left. Next, they go right. The excitement was almost more than I could take. * 12 year old girls are the best defense against zombies. Of course no one in the village except the little girl has the slightest idea of how to kill the zombies. * Zombies pull knives on each other. Watching two zombies roll around on the ground as they try to stab each other is one of the most amazingly ridiculous sights I've ever seen. They should have asked the 12 year old girl about how to fight a zombie. * There's so much more, but you get the idea.
- The ineptitude on display is amazing. But, then again, the movie was directed by Jean Rollin and co-written by Jesus Franco. I don't know why anyone would expect any better.
- Even though I've rated Zobmie Lake a 1/10, I still recommend the movie to anyone with a stomach for bad cinema. This movie really must be seen to be believed.
Brief plot: A group of Nazi soldiers in Italy are killed by the local resistance and dumped into a lake, but not before one of them impregnates a local girl. The soldiers 'somehow' emerge from the lake several years later as zombies and start killing off naked babes.
The movie is impossible to take seriously. The total budget of the film was probably $75, including the tape in the camera. It was like a bunch of teenage boys with a weekend to kill got hold of a video camera and said, 'Hey, I got a bunch of old Swedish uniforms. Let's pin swastikas to them, paint our faces green, and walk around like Frankenstien with a load in his pants while pulling topless women into the lake.' The fact that it was filmed in French and dubbed (poorly) into English only adds to the schlockiness.
I only hope that the director had as much fun making this film as I did watching it, because I pity them if they thought they were cranking out competent cinema.
- During a flashback sequence, we see an airborn attack on the village and there's a local beauty running towards the middle of a meadow where she then stops to scream hysterically Run for shelter, woman!!!
- During the first zombie-rampage, a very young girl (I doubt she's old enough to appear naked, by the way) is attacked while taking a bath in the middle of nowhere! She's just bathing next to a cornfield with no house in sight!
- While developing a plan to destroy the zombies, a 12-year-old girl is telling the mayor how things will be done! And she doesn't take no for an answer Quite an authority figure, this mayor - In order to distract the zombies, they're offered a bucket of blood to drink from. First of all, I didn't realize zombies drink blood And even better is the fact that they're kindly waiting their turn for drinking blood from a mug!!
- Last but not least there's the obliged group-nudity sequence! And it's a real good one in Zombie Lake, ladies and gentlemen. A van filled with female basketball players arrives at the lake and they spontaneously strip for a swim. Giggling for no reason and motivating each other to go wild. The voyeuristic underwater camera-work also make it lean close to pornography, by the way.
If you like bad cinema, look no further. Zombie Lake really triumphs on every level. Normally, I have some positive aspects to mention but I can't find any here no matter how hard I try. The music is okay, but that's because it's a recycled soundtrack from at least 10 other exploitation classics. And, even though he acts just as bad as everyone else, it was nice to see Howard Vernon again. This Jess Franco regular appeared in over a hundred trashy films, but this is by far the most embarrassing thing he ever was involved in. In case you have a healthy dose of humor, this film is warmly recommended. In case you only swear by films like "Citizen Kane" avoid!
The story was written by Jess Franco, although I am not sure how much thought had to go into this one. The film was directed by Jean Rollin (who was ashamed of his own work), and the opening scene pushes even his casual attitude towards female nudity to its limits. They both have a respectable career to some degree... not sure how this ended up on their resume.
Almost no effort was put into the Nazi zombies, who are just guys with a little green makeup smeared on their face. I can do a better makeup job in my bathroom, and they do not ask me to do effects for horror films. The people who were behind this should not be proud.
This ranks pretty low on the "Nazi zombie" scale, behind "Dead Snow" and "Shock Waves", and even behind another Jess Franco film "Oasis of the Zombies". This is, indeed, among the worst...