Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Jean Rollin Zombie Trilogy: Zombie Lake (1981)

The Nazi is the ultimate unsympathetic figure in cinema. I mean, they're Nazi's. Nobody is going to like or sympathize with them, and for very good reason. I guess that's why the Nazi is such an often used figure in the world of horror, especially zombie films. From Ken Wiederhorn's cult favorite "Shock Waves" and Jess Franco's abysmal "Oasis of the Zombies", the idea of undead fascists has served as a cold, stark and oddly entrancing monster. One of the director's to take a stab at this sub-genre was Jean Rollin with the Eurocine production "Zombie Lake", the second entry in his zombie trilogy. Too bad the end result may be his weakest film.

In a small French village, German soldiers were killed by the bad-asses from the French Resistance and dumped into a lake. Thing is, said Nazi's are now coming back as zombies, attacking the villagers-or at least does that are attractive naked women. Also, a girl in the village figures into the plot as well, as her father returns from his watery grave.

It sounds like a lot of fun, but "Zombie Lake" is actually a serious bore. None of the zombie make-up is realistic whatsoever. It's essentially a group of men whose faces are painted green in a poor attempt to pass as a horde of walking corpses. It also doesn't help that said make-up effects tend to melt off from time to time. Even the copious nudity on display doesn't help, as it lacks the poetic eroticism of Rollin's other films. I'm all for sleaze, but when a director known for his artistic take on erotic horror can't deliver on that, one can't help but be annoyed.

Hell, little of the movie feels anything like a Jean Rollin movie. You can tell he did the movie simply for the money, as the film offers no real ambition or spirit. Instead you get lazy direction and a horrible story which offers no attempts at trying to engage the audience. It just goes through the motions, feeling more like the aforementioned "Oasis of the Zombies" than one of Rollin's more Gothic and poetic horrors.

"Zombie Lake" is a huge misfire that shows a director on a bad day, as it lacks anything worth recommending. Maybe undemanding fans of European sleaze will buy it, but for me it's just too dull and uneventful to watch again.

Rating: 1/10

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