Zombie Lake (1981)

Zombie Lake (1981) movie poster

directors Julian de Laserna, Jean Rollin
viewed: 09/14/2014

I’ve come to develop a liking for Jean Rollin over the past couple of years.  A handful of his films are available on Netflix streaming, not necessarily the best ones, mind you, but it can always be interesting to explore the heights and lows of a career.  And besides, I’ve been also cultivating my appreciation for truly bad movies too.

There are other European directors of a similar period, who fairly or unfairly, are often possible to group together, different as they may be.  And a couple of these directors also have a number of flicks up on Netflix streaming as well.  Two that I am thinking of here are Spaniard Jesús Franco and Italian Mario Bava.  Interestingly enough, Franco has a film available called Oasis of the Zombies (1982), which, like Zombie Lake here, is also about zombie-fied Nazi soldiers.  Apparently, Rollin stepped in on Zombie Lake when Franco stepped away.  I guess that he went on to make his own Nazi zombie movie.

Nazi zombies first came into my life in the far more modern and contemporary Norwegian film Dead Snow (2009).  I think it even struck me as unusual.  But in researching this topic now, the lodestone of the subgenre seems to be Ken Wiederhorn’s Shock Waves (1977).  I’d say, “who knew?” but obviously somebody did.

Rollin apparently denied working on Zombie Lake, because it was so awful.  Oddly, he appears onscreen as a detective who gets attacked by some green-skinned soldiers.  This is easily the worst of Rollin’s films that I’ve seen so far, and it really doesn’t feel that much like one of his films at all.

Villagers attacked some Nazi soldiers during the waning period of WWII, throwing their bodies into the “Lake of the Damned”.  All it takes is some skinny-dipping beauties to bring them back.  And they are this weird breed of green-hued zombies, the kind you can make up yourself with a trip to the local drug store for Halloween paraphernalia.

The only weird and vaguely interesting trope within this whole thing is a love affair between one of the soldiers and one of the villagers, which begat a child before the soldier was turned zombie.  Upon arising, this one “good” Nazi zombie seeks out his young teen daughter (you do the math, it doesn’t make sense) and she recognizes his amulet and we have a loving reunion.  I’ll give that points for weird.

All in all, it seems fair to suppose that this is among Rollin’s weaker non-porn films (not that I’ve seen any of his porn films either, mind you).  My survey of Rollin’s work is still in its infancy, but his films linger in my mind, long after.  There is something about them.  Maybe not Zombie Lake, but you know.

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