Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

31 Days of Halloween: Oasis of the Zombies

Jess Franco is one of those directors you know when you like old exploitation films. Mr. Franco died earlier this year, actually, and he's just one of those guys you think of when you talk about gore, giallo, and lesibian vampires. Especially lesbian vampires.

Jess Franco's Oasis of the Zombies is not about lesbian vampires, however. It's about an oasis of zombies. It was made in 1982, and Wikipedia says that "Popcorn Pictures described the film as 'one the worst zombie films ever' and dared viewers to do a double bill with Zombie Lake", which is appropriate because I've already reviewed Zombie Lake, and because apparently (also according to Wikipedia) Franco was originally slated to direct that one, but was too busy to do so. That's like dodging a bullet and landing in a bear trap.

Oasis of the Zombies starts with a couple of young, college-age(ish) girls who are driving out in the desert of--do they ever say? I'm not sure. The Internet tells me they're in Libya, but the sound was a little fuzzy, and if they ever identify the locale in the movie, I missed it. Anyway, they find a nice, pretty little oasis filled with palm trees and bushes, and long-ignored vehicles bearing swastikas, and decide to have a look around. One girl wants to swipe a rifle from the wreckage, but the other gets spooked and wants to go back to the car. Then they both get attacked and eaten. By zombies, in case you didn't guess. Then the credits roll.

Cut to a clandestine meeting between a couple of Indiana Jones wannabes. They both know that there's 6 million in Nazi gold in the desert. The thin one knows where it is, but doesn't have the means to retrieve it. The fat one has the means to retrieve it but doesn't know where it is. The thin one agrees to help the fat one and points to a location on the map, whereupon the one man injects him with a fast-acting poison. The thin one goes down and the fat man runs out to his car where his female companion says "where's Jack Spratt? (Or whatever his name is.)"

"Oh, he says it's cool, and we can go get the Nazi gold without him."

"That doesn't sound right. I'd better go talk to him."

"No! He's in a really bad mood!"

...whereupon the Fat Indiana Jones Guy steps on the gas, and they speed out of there.

Next, we are introduced to a group of students on vacation. One has been studying his father's diary, and reads the story of how a caravan of Nazis was ambushed in the desert, and their gold lost forever. The kids go out in search of the oasis and the gold.

I think this movie was conceived as a perfect storm; multiple factions converge on one location, each planning to capture the same prize, unaware of the zombies waiting for them. That's not how it plays out, though. Indiana Dumpling gets bitten and the kids' guide demands that they burn his body to keep him from coming back. Then the zombies attack for about half an hour. There's a little nudity and some machine guns, and more flashbacks than I bargained for.

The filmmaking is not particularly competent. Having seen a few of Jess Franco's movies, I can say that tended to make as good a movie as the material warranted, but no better. He cannot elevate a crappy movie to a less-crappy status they way, say, Vincent Price tended to do. The Internet tells me that the print of the movie Netflix has is not the best one available, and that the better print is much more watchable. That's probably true; there are a lot of suspenseful scenes where the effect is undermined by the fact that you can't see anything. The scenes which are bright enough to view the action are undermined by the "musical" "score". I'm not sure which of those words needs quotes around it, so I've put them around both.

Why do Nazis and zombies go together so frequently? I just don't get it. There are so many Nazi zombie movies, and they all seem to be from Italy. This one isn't good either (none of them are), but it's sort of fun; might've been better if I'd watched it with someone else.

Click here for the trailer.
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