Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zombie Lake (1981, France)

There are bad movies, horrible movies, and a special category of movies that are so horrible that drinking games are invented to tolerate them. Sadly, the 1981 French film Zombie Lake fits in the last category. This movie was originally slated to be directed by infamous European exploitation mogul Jesus Franco (creator of such timeless classics as “She Killed in Ecstasy”, “A Virgin Among The Living Dead” & “Pleasure For Three: Beyond The Grave”) but backed out of the production due to the limited financial resources available for this gem. Enter French Exploitation Director Jean Rollin, who directed Zombie Lake under the pseudonym of J.A. Lazer. Fellow readers: let me stop the review right here for a reality check. Zombie Lake is so bad, Rollin used a pseudonym because he didn’t want to be associated with this movie (you will see why this is hilarious in a moment). Very reminiscent to “Shock Waves”, Rollin’s movie focuses on a group of Nazi Zombies that rise from the depths of a lake in 1950’s France to exact revenge on the worst group of actors to ever assemble in one physical location. Rollin is considered a horror pioneer in France, but after reviewing his filmography (with such titles as “Suck Me Vampire”, “Requiem For A Vampire” & “Lewd Young Girls”), Rollin apparently is the French version of Uwe Boll. With that being said, even Rollin was embarrassed by this movie.

The opening scenes of Zombie Lake will back up this astute observation: bad 70’s porn music envelops the senses as a nubile French woman decides to go “skinny dipping” in a local lake. Cut to underwater scenes that are filmed in someone’s pool (trust me, you can see the smooth blue pavement as the viewer is treated to some full frontal nudity shots that this actresses’ husband and gynecologist should only be privy to). Enter the Nazi Zombie, complete with bad makeup and some of the worst zombie interpretation movements you will ever see on celluloid. You can pretty much guess what is going to happen next. From here, the movie continues it fast descent into the bowels of cinematic hell as the viewer is treated to a discombobulated script, horrible pacing, bad continuity and what many die hard film geeks have termed as “one of the most horrible zombie movies ever made”.

Combine these horrible components with the fact that Rollin has included enough nudity in this movie that would make a late night programmer at Cinemax blush. His attempt to distract the audience from the atrocities of this movie with naked women from the 70’s is sad and shallow (although appreciated). Also keep in mind that the movie is dubbed over, so you are given yet another realm of awesomeness to bask in (the translation for some of the lines in this movie will haunt me until my death rattle). The plot continue to spiral out of control as a News Reporter comes looking to interview villagers about the “Lake of Ghosts”, a daughter who is reunited with her Nazi Zombie father, and instantaneous busloads of female volley ball players who have the incessant need to go “skinny dipping”.
The film company that released Zombie Lake was Eurocine (Paris). This film company is largely responsible for the genre of exploitation films that influenced the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino films “Planet Terror” & “Deathproof”. The DVD from Image Entertainment is very bare bones and only contains the movie and trailer (I can’t possibly imagine what Special Features would enhance this steaming pile though).

I really wish I had some positive things to say about this movie. I consider myself a connoisseur of bad cinema, but even Zombie Lake is rough to watch. It is apparent at the end of this 83-minute journey through hell that no one cared about their part in this movie. I would only recommend this to the bravest of film geeks and not include this in anyone’s serious zombie film collection.

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