Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
In a small village, somewhere in France, German soldiers, killed and thrown into the lake by the Resistance during WW II, come back.
For more about Zombie Lake and the Zombie Lake Blu-ray release, see Zombie Lake Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on February 11, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Jean Rollin
» See full cast & crew
Zombie Lake Blu-ray Review
Jean Rollin in the Deep
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, February 11, 2013
On February 26th, Kino-Lorber and Redemption Films—as part of their ongoing distribution partnership—are releasing two of the shabbiest low-budget zombie films to have ever shambled into the cinema, 1981's Zombie Lake and 1982's Oasis of the Zombies. Besides a few minor differences in plot and setting, they're essentially the same movie, both involving cursed locales, flashbacks to World War II, illegitimate children fathered by soldiers, and Nazi zombies that rise from their mass graves to feast on sexy ladies. The similarities are no accident. Eurocine Productions initially hired cult horror/skin-flick filmmaker Jesús "Jess" Franco (Exorcism, Female Vampire) to helm Zombie Lake, but when he dropped out due to time-commitment issues, the directorial reins were passed to fellow euro-sleaze artiste Jean Rollin, the oddball sub-surrealist known for his many, many, many lesbian vampire movies. The following year, Franco would return to the premise and make his own version, Oasis of the Zombies. Both films are utter garbage—boring, poorly made, and prime examples of the kind of low-budget zombie knockoffs trailing in the wake of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead—but they're somehow guileless and almost charming in their awfulness. I wouldn't say so bad they're good, but so bad I'm glad, in some perverse way, that they exist at all.
Jean Rollin made some genuinely fascinating films—atmospheric, more le fantastique than grand guignol—but Zombie Lake isn't one of them. Besides a few poetic embellishments, it's clear that he was merely a hired gun on this one, and the title sequence credits him as "J.A. Laser." (An admittedly killer pseudonym.) Opening in rural France, the film wastes no time getting straight to the gratuitous nudity; a woman undresses in a lakeside gazebo, jumps right in, and scissor-kicks through the lily-pads while the camera ogles her at length underwater in what's clearly just a pool somewhere. Out of the not-so-murky depths, a living dead Nazi infantryman floats up—knife in hand, face painted Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle green—and attacks the girl, who shrieks and splashes to no avail, exposing generous T&A in the process.
"Now, wait, that doesn't sound so bad," you might say, and you'd be right—the film's few zombie attacks are loveably cheesy, not-quite-erotic fun, awash in bad makeup effects and clumsy, herky-jerky camerawork. Where Zombie Lake goes stagnant is in its insistence on having a slow, drawn-out, merely perfunctory-feeling plot. After the swimming girl goes missing and another local lass is murdered crossing a footbridge into town, the nosy reporter Katya (Marcia Sharif) shows up with her camera and notebook, eager to get "an unusual yarn about that odd little lake of yours."
She gets more than than from the village mayor (Howard Vernon), who spins her the entire tale of "the damned lake of the damned," going back ten years to the Nazi occupation of France. The film's middle section is occupied by this flashback, which is unusual for having some of the only war/combat scenes in Jean Rollin's mostly sappho-vampiric body of work. As the German forces are rolling through the countryside, a Nazi soldier saves a local woman from a mortar attack, and they subsequently share a literal roll in the hay. Nine months later, as his unit retreats, he stops in to check on her, only to find that she's on the verge of dying post-childbirth. As a parting gift, she gives him a ridiculously cheap-looking necklace, which will come into play later when their little girl—now ten, and living with her grandmother—sees it and recognizes the zombie on the doorstep as her dad. Anyway, as to how the Nazi soldiers became undead ghouls, it's pretty simple. French resistance fighter intercept the unit outside of town, mow them down, and then dump the corpses in the lake, which has apparently been cursed since the Inquisition. Hence, zombies.
As if in reward for sitting through this oh-so-tedious exposition, the film returns to the present day, where a team of sexy female volleyball players— not making this up—has stopped at the lake to skinny-dip and frolic naked. (As sexy female volleyball players are wont to do, amirite?) This is basically just like the opening scene, but instead of one nubile young thing splashing around, there are nearly a dozen, terrorized as the zombie squadron suddenly emerges from the lac du zombie. A pair of detectives arrive to investigate—one of whom is played by Rollin himself—but they too meet a grisly end. (The detectives, thankfully, are not nude.) As the zombies go a'shuffling into the village, chomping at the necks of anyone who gets in their way, the mayor and reporter discuss the biblical apocalypse, napalm, and other possible ways of ridding the area of its nasty undead infestation.
Like many of Rollin's films, Zombie Lake has a vibe that could variously be described as "dreamy" or "woefully incompetent," depending on how generous you're feeling. You can also tell the director is far outside his vampire-centric comfort zone. He just doesn't know what to do with the walking dead. If you go in expecting something even remotely Romero-esque, you'll be gravely disappointed by the relatively gore-less action, the plodding story, and the lack of any kind of social subtext. (No zombies-as-mindless-consumers-at-the-mall here.) There's no denying that Zombie Lake is a shallow, stagnant exercise in titillation and horror. At the same time, its own badness—specifically the notion that a film so dull and inept could be so guilelessly passed off as entertainment—is reason enough for fans of awful movies to watch it at least once.
Zombie Lake Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like most of the Kino/Redemption titles released thus far, Zombie Lake is essentially presented "as-is," with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer of an archival negative that hasn't been digitally cleaned up or significantly doctored in any way beyond—presumably—some light color correction. This means you'll notice some semi-frequent specks, light scratches, and small bits of debris, but considering the film's age, budget, and reputation, the damage here is quite minimal. I've previously seen Zombie Lake on VHS and DVD—some might say that's two times too many—and now seeing it resurrected on Blu-ray is a revelation in clarity. The 35mm photography resolves nicely in high definition, allowing for sharper lines and more detailed textures, most noticeably in the atrocious zombie makeup. Color seems accurate too, with good image density and contrast. Of course, the upside of an "as-is" transfer for a film like this is twofold: 1.) the picture is untouched by digital noise reduction and edge enhancement, and 2.) you feel like you're sitting in some dingy grindhouse theater, watching a naturally battered 35mm print. I don't know if I'd want a spotless version of Zombie Lake.
Zombie Lake Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Kino/Redemption have given us two audio options for Zombie Lake, the original French track and an English dub, both presented in uncompressed Linear PCM 2.0. Now, I'm typically an advocate for listening to a film in its original language, but I can't say that it matters much here; the film was shot silently, and all sound was dubbed in later, so both tracks have a boxy, artificial quality, and even the French lip-syncing is slightly off at times. So pick whichever you'd like. There are some small differences in the two tracks, though. Flipping back and forth between them, I noticed a few instances where a line would be spoken in French, but there would be silence in the English track, despite the subtitles still showing up. There are also some tonal discrepancies, with the music in the French track sounding a bit more muffled and lowered than in the English mix, where it's brighter and cleaner. In both, high-end sounds can get somewhat peaky and harsh, but that's not exactly unexpected for a film of this caliber. At the very least, both of these tracks are functional, and free of any significant hisses, heavy clicks, or dropouts. The disc includes optional English subtitles in easy-to-read white lettering.
Zombie Lake Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Zombie Lake Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Is Zombie Lake the worst zombie movie of all time? Hardly. I can think of a dozen more modern, more obnoxious undead movies I'd rather see napalm-scorched from the face of the earth. (Like, say, the insipid Day of the Dead remake.) That said, Zombie Lake is unmistakably awful—slow, un-scary, and devoid of the expected horror genre thrills—and this is one of the few reasons people still watch it today. It's become one of those bad movies that fans of bad movies are basically required to see at least once. So, have at it—Kino's high-definition transfer means the zombie make-up looks more comically inept than ever.
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to Zombie Lake. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to Zombie Lake in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
Zombie Lake Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Upcoming Redemption Titles - January 9, 2013
The Salvation Group, creator of the Redemption, Sacrament, Jezebel, and Purgatory film labels, is planning to bring to Blu-ray a number of cult films in the coming months, including Martin Campbell's The Sex Thief (1974), Jean Rollin's Zombie Lake (1981), and Jess ...
Zombie Lake Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
Zombie Lake Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Zombie Lake Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.