Zombie Lake (Le Lac des Morts Vivants)
Jean Rollin (as J.A. Lazer or J.A. Laser)
French (Dubbed into English)
13 May 1981 (France)
OK, now I know when I first explained my rules for this RMR project that I reserved the right to skip movies that just seemed to have no redeeming social value. I have also stated in the past that I’m getting tired of zombies. Bearing those concepts in mind, one might think that when Movie Roulette gave me the 1981 French movie Zombie Lake that I would take a pass.
One would be wrong. Of all of my numerous faults, never let it be said that consistency is one of them.
First of all, yes, it’s a cheapo 80s zombie flick. But it’s a French cheapo 80s zombie flick! And…the zombies are Nazis! C’mon, you know I had to check this out.
Well, the good news is it’s just as bad as you would expect. First of all, it’s never a good sign when the directors and writers are all using assumed names. I mean, geez, no matter how bad it turns out an artist should stand up and take credit for his work. What kind of a lily livered weasel would write something and then not reveal…his true…identity…never mind. Poor Jean Rollin, apparently he was so embarrassed by this movie that he had to change his name for fear that it would detract from his previous body of work, fine films such as The Nude Vampire, Rape of the Vampire, and Caged Virgins.
The movie was originally going to be directed by Jesus Franco, AKA A.L. Mariaux, who wrote it. When he bolted, Rollin, AKA Lazer, AKA Laser was brought in at the last minute. Regarding the names, the credits don’t even agree on the fake names, and on an English version of the credits (a special feature on the DVD) the movie is called Zombie’s Lake.
Because I am fluent in Francaize, I can tell you that the French title translates as The Lake of the Living Dead, no doubt inspired by the original Night of the Living Dead from 1968. That was a movie that, in spite of a low budget, packed a wallop and pretty much spawned a horror genre. This one, not so successful.
The basic setup is this, there’s this peaceful little French town that has a lake nearby. Years earlier, during WWII, the local French Resistance killed a handful of Nazis and threw their bodies into the lake. Because of some bad voodoo that happened at the lake in the past, however, those darn Nazis just didn’t stay dead.
In spite of the fact that there are signs around the lake that say LE DANGERUEAX: LE NON SWEEM, this lake has the uncanny ability to attract beautiful naked women who want to swim in it.
Yeah…the original French poster above promises that there may be some boobs in the movie, but notice that there is part of a bush covering her…um…foliage? Nope. Lots of foliage in this flick. As one reviewer said, “I’ve seen porn with less nudity.” Of course this movie is set in France and, as we all know, bathing suits have been banned in France since the early 60s. Apparently, so have razors. Just saying.
Anyway, when these young lovelies jump in the lake for some skinny dipping, that awakens the Nazi Zombies’ lust for human flesh, and they then prey on the young lovelies. Young lovelies are just an appetizer, though, because the NZs leave the water and head into town for more French cuisine. This causes a tourism problem and the badly dubbed townspeople rise up to deal with the NZs once and for all.
It would take too long to go through all the problems with this movie, but one of them is the make-up of the NZs. There’s no consistency, some of them just have green skin but not a lot of decay, others look like members of the Insane Clown Posse.
Also, there was a lot of money saved on effects during the actual zombie attacks. Where zombies are usually said to enjoy human flesh, brains especially, our NZs act more like vampires. They just sort of bite their victim’s neck and suck the blood. No muss, no fuss. All that’s left behind is a dead young lovely with bright red fake blood on her neck. Young boys renting this movie over the years hoping for sex and violence may have been happy with the nudity, but were no doubt quite disappointed in the lack of gore.
There are quite a few shots filmed under the lake. Shots of the NZs rising up from the depths as well as extremely gratuitous shots of the naked young lovelies from below (one suspects that this may have been the whole reason the movie got made). As is customary when filming underwater, these scenes were filmed in a water tank. It is also customary to put some plants, bubbles, and whatnot in the water to disguise the fact that it’s a tank. Not this time.
For reasons I won’t go into, the movie seems to be set in 1957, but no effort was made to disguise the early 80s appearance of the actors, etc. Some of the young lovelies arrive at the lake in what looks like a 60s era VW Bus and, for the brief period that they are still fully dressed, their clothes and hairstyles seem 80s vintage.
There is an important plot point that involves one of the NZs’ sentimental attachment to the town and one of its members. I won’t divulge it, but it actually is reasonably moving. It has caused me to raise the movie a notch on my scale. Otherwise, bleecch. The acting is horrible, and horribly dubbed, and the movie is hopelessly dull and slow. I’m tempted to say that at times it’s hard to tell which of the characters are zombies and which aren’t, but that would be…accurate.
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
On a scale of Dr. Forrester to Joel, Joel being best, I’m giving Zombie Lake a…
Ransom Quote Whore Quote:
“Zombie Lake is a preachy, waterless catalase of a movie! Howard Vernon is unbeclouded!!!”