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MOVIE REVIEWS

Zombie Lake (1981)

[Le Lac Des Morts Vivants]


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"I would like to thank all of you who are here today, attending this great ceremony. It is today that we welcome our newest addition...a film that I'm sure will represent us well. It is now time to rise, extend our hand, as the members of 'Truly Worthless Films' grant new membership to the piece of work known as...Zombie Lake." Applause erupts as the speaker reveals the poster of Zombie Lake to the crowd.

That's how I envision this movie getting any type of notoriety at all...as a horribly deficient piece of garbage. There is so much to say about this movie...none of it good. There are so many negative aspects to this film that I will only be able to scratch the surface in this review. Value can be obtained, however, by the bountiful amounts of laughter that will arise from watching Zombie Lake. Of course, I'm sure this type of amusement was not the intention of director Jean Rollin.

Somewhere in France there is a small town, in which there is a lake. And in this lake contains several undead Nazi soldiers. These Nazis were killed at some point during World War II by the French resistance and the bodies were dumped into the lake. For reasons unknown to us the zombies finally decide to rise out of the lake and start creating mayhem in this small village. That in itself could make this a horrible horror movie. Rollin really wanted us to get our money's worth...so he threw in a bizarre side story of one of the zombies getting back in touch with his daughter.

Could anybody really think that this story would make a good movie? Probably not. That's why I've come to the conclusion that this whole film was an excuse to get a lot of young, attractive chicks to take off their clothes. Very few of the actresses in this movie get to keep their clothes on. Half of the film is taken up by good, old-fashioned full frontal nudity. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, and I really should have expected it having already seen other Rollin films, like Living Dead Girl.

Let's just go ahead and start the laundry list of flaws. First on the list is the makeup. It's atrocious. It was as simple as painting the actors' faces green. And they couldn't even get that right. There's one scene at the beginning where you can blatantly see that the green paint has rubbed off on the victim's chin and neck. The zombie that has an eye missing looks like he's got a piece of bologna on his face. The application of green paint varied throughout the movie, sometimes very little, sometimes a lot. There was no consistency. Oh yeah, if you're a big fan of decomposition, it doesn't really exist in Zombie Lake. The soldiers look, for the most part, much like they did when they were alive.

The directing, editing, and music are all just plain bad. There are several scenes that were put into the film that make no sense whatsoever and add nothing to the story. You just end up asking, "Why is that in there? What was that supposed to be?” It was simply a case of a poor job of getting the story across. It's up to the viewer to just guess at what's going on most of the time. For such a simple story, I couldn't believe how much thought had to be put into it, and most of it still didn't make much sense.

The most bizarre part of the story revolves around the main Nazi finding his daughter. He died when she was just a baby and now he's back to be the good Nazi father he knows he can be. What the hell? Oh well, at least he's not being a deadbeat dad.

This is a pretty harsh review, and rightly so. You will, however, be highly entertained by Zombie Lake. You won't be seeing a masterpiece of horror, but you will be seeing a pretty hilarious zombie flick. You will laugh, that I can almost guarantee. How about the underwater scenes that you can obviously tell were filmed in some type of pool? That's right, you can plainly see the side of the pool, the lights, and the other pool parts. Then there's the scene where you can see the cameraman in the mirror, the scene where the zombie apparently has held his breath for too long and has to go up for air...I could keep going, but I'll leave it up to you to find the rest of the laughs. Finally, I want to give Rollin his much deserved props for setting his actor zombies on fire for the sake of realism...I just hope they got some hazard pay.


RATING

(out of 5)
THEATER RELEASE DATE
May 13 1981
(France)
DVD RELEASE DATE
March 27 2001


DEAD KEV'S ADVICE
The half star is for the unintentional humor that is contained within this otherwise worthless film. If you really want to see Zombie Lake, my advice is to get some friends together, grab a few (or more) drinks, and prepare to put on your own version of MST3K.
ZOMBIE LESSONS LEARNED
1. No swimming signs are usually put up for a reason...follow the rules or die.
2. Taking off your clothes is grounds for a zombie attack.
FAVORITE QUOTES
-"We better face the fact that zombies have declared war."
-"The others are bad ghosts, but not him."
-"Bring me a whole lot of fresh blood."


DIRECTOR
Jean Rollin (Living Dead Girl)
WRITERS
Julián Esteban
Jesus Franco
CAST CHARACTER
Howard Vernon Mayor
Pierre-Marie Escourrou The German Soldier
Anouchka Helena
Antonio Mayans Morane
Nadine Pascal  
Youri Radionow Chanac
Burt Altman  
Gilda Arancio Katya
Marcia Sharif  
Yvonne Dany  
Jean Rene Bleu  
Jean Rollint Stiltz
PRODUCTION COMPANY
Eurociné
STUDIO
Image Entertainment
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
France
RUNNING TIME MPAA RATING
92 mins Unrated


INTERESTING TIDBITS
The general story is that Jesus Franco was originally going to direct, but left at the last minute stating that the budget was too small for him. Apparently Jean Rollin hadn't even read the script and only had a couple of weeks to make the movie.
Alternate scenes were shot for the film, which replaced the nude scenes with clothed actresses.
AKA : El Lago de Los Muertos Vivientes (1980 Spain); The Lake of the Living Dead (1980); Zombies Lake (1980 Europe: English title)
AROUND THE WEB
Jean Rollin Interview - Vampyria: Cine Xtravaganza

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