Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mad Murdering Zombies!

The slogan says it all. Zombie Lake, not director Jean Rollin’s first zombie film, is a ludicrous travesty. There is almost nothing I could say about it that hasn’t been said already (see 1000 Misspent Hours for the ins and outs of this feast for the fast forward button), but take my word for it, it's almost impossible to stop watching to see what happens next. Director Jean Rollin with long time partner Jesus Franco also took part in the making of A Virgin Among the Living Dead, The Grapes of Death and Curse of the Living Dead before finally arriving at this. It's funny because at times, it stopped seeming like a movie at all. There are periods of time where it's completely silent, times when folks just amble around talking while Zombies kill everyone in town, and everyone seems to be in complete agreement that they will be killed, yet refuse to either leave or seek help. It's like Jean Rollin learned about film directing from a textbook, and he didn't even skim it; Which is impossibly stupid because he made other zombie films before he made this. The end result is that you've laughed, you've cursed out loud to no one in particular and you've become inexplicably tired. Sometimes the Italians just take it out of you.

Zombie Lake
by Jean Rollin

Plot, such as it is: Angry, Nazi clowns with varying degrees of dementia smear tomato sauce on the necks of women in varying states of nudity. It’s tough to tell who was more drunk, Rollin or the zombies. Of course, in order for this to appeal to anyone, one would have to be twice as drunk as all of them. Never before had so many poor ideas been ruined and turned into the most aimless Zombie film you’re likely to find rotting on the shelves of any rental place. Even the worst horror directors have ideas in their heads about how they want their movies to turn out, or one would hope anyhow, but this was just laughable. They stole the plot idea and botched it, they stole the make-up effects, botched those too, and used every other horror convention known to man: a reporter shows up looking for a story, angry villagers unite irrationally, love prevails, sorta, women are naked (boy howdy), fire kills the zombies, the list goes on. The one thing I can’t understand; in dubbing a picture about Nazis, why would you make your mayor German and everyone else an American blowhard. Go figure. On the plus side, there doesn’t appear to be overt racism, except of course the fact that there are Nazi Zombies and we’re supposed to sympathize with one of them. Oy.

Anyway, on to cultural significance, cause there's no way I'm going to admit that this was a total waste of my time. So, we have zombies, nazis, and nudity. Must be Italy. This film can be called a direct response, or rip-off, I think is the clinical term of the earlier Shockwaves, a half-decent take on nazi-zombies, perhaps the first (The scholar in me wants to make certain of this, the rest of me says to hell with it). Jesus Franco was originally asked to direct this film for Eurocine, a producer of the finest European filth, but, apparently even shitworms have principles. They didn't give Franco enough money, at least, by his standards, to direct this monstrosity, so he departed after handing in his finished screenplay. Don't worry, Rollin, the man they hired to take over, didn't really read whatever Franco wrote. For instance, there's a scene where a basketball team is supposed to show up by the lake and play for a minute. Rollin disregarded Franco's set-up and instructed the girls to play volleyball. The only things that Rollin kept intact was all the stripping and obscene vagina close-ups. Franco does love a good zoom-in. Also interesting to note is that while Franco turned his nose up at this monstrosity, right around this time, exact dates are unfortunately vague, Franco was screwing around some place in Spain filming a framing story to fit his stock footage so that he could turn it into Oasis of the Zombies, a film that but for one redeeming entrance scene, is nearly as unwatchable as this (god help him, Rollin's film has better pacing than Franco's). Both films came out in 1981, Franco's in March, the date of Zombie Lake's release is MIA. Of course, picking one illogical, slimy nazi zombie film over another, even for the men who make them, is a little like picking your favorite kick in the shin. And the 80s were far from over.

1 comment:

Blogger said...

I've just installed iStripper, and now I enjoy having the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.