Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

31 Days of Halloween: Zombie Lake

As far as I know, there are two movies about zombie Nazis "living" inside a lake.

Zombie Lake is the other one.

The "good" Nazi lake zombie movie is 1977's Shock Waves, which I saw years ago, and don't much remember, other than that it starred John Carradine and Peter Cushing. I hear I should watch it again. My recollection is that I watched it on a personal media player at an old job which was strictly verboten, but I had something like four hours of absolutely menial stapling to do, and I was secretly hoping to get fired. Note to potential future employers: I have not watched a movie at work in years. Because most cubicles are designed to make it very difficult to hide that sort of thing.

Anyway, Zombie Lake is a movie you're not going to want to watch, so I'm not sure what I should tell you about it. It's a French film from 1981, directed by Jean Rollin. Mr. Rollin is pretty prolific, and I've heard of many of his other films, but not actually seen any, as far as I can remember. What I do know is that he has made an effort to distance himself from Zombie Lake, which he directed under the name J.A. Laser.

So here's what happens in the movie: A small, rural French town sits by the side of a small, green, French lake which has carried the nickname Lake of Death for as long as anyone can remember. Satanic rites were practiced there during the Crusades, or something--I forget. Anyway, a pretty, young girl goes skinny dipping one day and is attacked From The Depths by a green guy in a Nazi uniform. Then this happens a couple more times and an investigative journalist shows up. And then the villagers admit that maybe they have a problem.

The journalist goes to speak to the mayor who explains that during World War II, the Nazis invaded, and one particularly strapping young intruder struck up a relationship with a one of the local ladies. They had a daughter. Then the townspeople murdered all the Nazis and tossed them into the lake, which was good because it got the Nazis off the streets, but bad because they started eating anybody who came anywhere near the lake.

The villagers are fed up with the zombies, but they cannot be stopped. "Nothing can kill them!" says the mayor, "they are completely indestructible!"

"Have you tried fire?" asks the journalist.

"Well," says the mayor, "not really. We've mostly been shouting at them and poking them with sticks."

"Ah, pointy sticks! Good!"

"Pointy? Oh, that's a good idea, too!"

They form a plan to attack the zombies with a flamethrower. Meanwhile, the daughter I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago gets a visit from her undead father, and he convinces her that he is Good. So she betrays his trust and uses him to get all the zombies together in one place where the townspeople can dispatch them at once. The girl watches sadly as her reanimated father burns. Roll credits.

There's a lot to make fun of here: the story takes place a decade after the Nazi occupation, but the fashions are straight out of the late '70s. The zombie makeup is thick and green and rubs off on the victims. The blood--and there's a lot of blood--is applied directly to the actors' skin with nothing underneath, which makes all the injuries look more like condiment spills than wounds. The underwater scenes are clearly shot inside a swimming pool and the filter and seams in the wall come into shot occasionally. Almost every woman who appears onscreen takes her clothes off. It's supposed to be titillating, but in horror movies it just makes me uncomfortable.

I wasn't aware of it until I looked up Zombie Lake online, but this is one of those movies that regularly gets labelled as the "worst ever", which for a lot of people makes it a "must-see", but I can't recommend it. It's not uproariously bad, just dull.

Click here for the trailer.
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