= Highest Rating
This simply has to be the crappiest zombie
film ever, certainly the worst I've seen to date.
(And that's quite a few.) Since it's a European
rip-off of Shock Waves
(1976) it has the distinction of being only the
second 'underwater Nazi zombie' flick ever made...
not exactly a meritorious achievement. Beyond
that there is absolutely nothing of interest here
for the horror fan or cheese lover. Even the presence
of cult fave Howard Vernon —
The Awful Dr. Orlof
and a plenitude of naked female flesh won't assuage
your anger at having wasted 83 minutes of your
life on this soggy, saggy diaper of a movie.
The film opens promisingly enough, despite
the insipid music, at least from a prurient standpoint.
A gorgeous brunette, all tan and tawny, strolls
up to an idyllic lake in the French countryside
and, at exactly the 1-minute mark, strips off
all her clothes. She stretches out on a log to
sunbathe while the credits wrap up, then goes
for a swim among the lilly pads. If the rest of
the film had simply followed this shapely Eurobabe
on her skinny-dip then it would've at least been
watchable. Instead, a green-faced zombie in a
World War II Wehrmacht uniform emerges from the
depths to drag the frolicking female to her doom.
When she fails to return to her home in the nearby
village, the mayor (Vernon) is informed of her
disappearance. He doesn't seem particularly worried.
Another woman from the village soon turns
up dead, bitten in the neck. Then a minibus carrying
a women's volleyball team stops at the lake so
that the gals can —
what else? —
go skinny-dipping. Once they get naked and start
splashing about, a squad of zombified Nazi soldiers
attacks them from beneath the water. (Lots of
aquatic beaver shots here.) The only one of the
girls not swimming watches from shore as her friends
are killed. Screaming, she runs topless to the
village pub, where she can only gasp "The lake!
The lake!" before passing out. The mayor finally
realizes he needs to do something about the situation.
Since the town apparently has no police force,
he telephones district authorities to send some
cops to investigate. Two skeptical officers eventually
arrive (one is played by co-director Jean Rollin)
but are themselves slaughtered by the zombies
as soon as they start poking around at the lake.
Mr. Mayor, who actually knows what is causing
all the deaths and disappearances, forms a posse
of armed citizens to destroy the marauding ghouls,
who've begun making periodic forays into the village.
"We must act!" he extols his constituents —
an apropos line, as no one in the film has done
any acting to speak of up to this point. (Nor
will they.) As the mayor explains it to a ditzy
reporter (and we're shown via flashback), the
zombies were members of a German infantry squad
ambushed by partisans during the war. The bodies
of the soldiers were dumped into the lake to hide
them. In ancient times the lake was used by pagans
for ritualistic purposes, when human sacrifices
were made to the waters to appease the dark spirits
that dwelt there. Now those spirits have revived
the corpses of the Nazis, who rise from the bottom
of the lake to seek fresh blood.
Everything in this (so-called) film is pathetically
lame. The script is bad, the acting is bad, the
camera work is bad; ditto the editing, music,
special effects, foley and dubbing. Mind you,
almost none of it is bad in a 'so bad it's good',
unintentionally funny sort of way. It's just...
bad. BAD, I tell ya! The zombie make-up
is mostly just green Halloween face paint, sloppily
the actors' necks and wrists weren't even bothered
with! The fake blood looks like watery tomato
soup. (Where are the crackers?) During
the underwater scenes it's painfully obvious that
the zombies are stomping around at the bottom
of a swimming pool. Howard Vernon, seemingly quite
bored, appears to be reading the majority of his
lines from cue cards. The script, too, commits
a particularly heinous boner... While the story
is clearly set in 1980 —
35 years after the war —
a major plot-thread involves a child fathered
by one of the German zombies, during a romance
with a local Frenchwoman, before he was killed
by the partisans. Trouble is, in the movie
the kid's only 10 years old! Perhaps
the filmmakers' original intent was to
set the story in the 1950s, but a lack of money
prohibited hiring cars and costumes to fit the
period. Most likely they just didn't give a shit.
Neither will you.
A 2001 entry in Image Entertainment's EuroShock
Collection, Zombie Lake
is surprisingly well-presented on DVD. (A film this
cheap and shoddily made could've resulted in all
kinds of problems, I'd think.) While not pristine
or razor sharp, the print looks quite good; it's
letterboxed in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
and 16x9 enhanced. The disc provides two mono audio
options, English or French. The French track sounds
much crisper and is easily the superior of the two
but unfortunately there are no English subtitles
to accompany it. I was not at all surprised to discover
that some of the dialog looping in the original
French is just as inept as in the poorly dubbed
The DVD comes with extras but they're all practically
worthless. A 5-minute reel of alternate (and soundless)
scenes shows what the skinny-dipping sequences look
like when the actresses remain clothed instead of
getting naked. I mean, who the hell wants to see
that? The same applies to the English-language
opening credits, which are just simple text on a
black background. A supposed theatrical trailer
is also included, but it's one of the sloppiest
promos I've ever seen —
there's no narrator or text blurbs, and the film's
title isn't even used! Extremely brief liner notes
reveal that the credited director, "J.A. Lazer",
is a pseudonym for Julian de Laserna and cult auteur
Jean Rollin, who jointly helmed this piece of junk.
In February 2013 Redemption/Kino will release a
remastered edition of Zombie
Lake on both DVD and Blu-ray.