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    Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • Zombie Lake



    Released by: Kino/Redemption
    Released on: February 26, 2013.

    Director: Jean Rollin

    Cast: Howard Vernon, Pierre-Marie Escourrou, Anouchka, Antonio Mayans, Nadine Pascal

    Year: 1981

    Purchase From Amazon


    The Movie:


    Directed by Jean Rollin (under the pseudonym J.A. Lazer) and written by Jess Franco (who apparently walked off the set before principal photography started, meaning Rollin was brought on at the last minute), 1981's Zombie Lake is rightly regarded as one of the most ridiculous zombie movies ever made. It's cheaply made, it barely makes any sense, it's about as smart as a bag of hammers and it's consistently awesome.


    When the film begins a lovely young lady strips in a shelter before strutting towards a slimy looking lake full of lily pads. She sees a sign warning against swimming - the big skull on it should be a dead giveaway, but in a random act of defiance she tears it down and commences to skinny dip. As she swims around in the buff, some daft underwater camera work shows us that there are Nazi zombies swimming around underneath her. Before you know it, she's fallen victim to the Aryan undead, the first of many.


    From there we meet a reporter who has shown up in the small French town near the lake. She's interested in 'the lake of the damned' which she's heard about and is told by the locals to go hang with the mayor (Howard Vernon) for a bit. Meanwhile, those Nazi zombies have come out of the lake and are wandering around town, at least temporarily. We learn through flashbacks that during the Second World War, some resistance fighters shot dead a group of SS troopers and tossed their bodies into said lake, but not before one of the Nazi's made sweet, sweet love to a local French blonde. Now, years later and for no obvious reason, those Nazi's have come back from the dead and started killing off anyone they come into contact with.


    One of those zombies is the nice Nazi who has a strange connection to a young girl who just so happens to be drawn to a talisman around his neck. It doesn't take a genius to figure out their connection, and hey, look, the girls volleyball team has just shown up to get naked and skinny dip! Jean Rollin himself shows up as an investigator of sorts but doesn't last too long. Things are starting to get out of hand but thankfully Howard Vernon knows the secret to eliminating a Nazi zombie menace is… a giant flamethrower!


    This movie is a complete and utter disaster, so much so that it becomes fascinating in its own 'can't look away from the train wreck' sort of way. There are so many logic gaps here - the fact that the movie clearly takes place in the eights but has to be set a mere decade or so after the end of the war for the girl's age to make sense; the constant shots of zombies swimming under various naked ladies only for the camera to pan up and show the girls standing in water only knee deep; the fact that characters enter into the story and then completely disappear without rhyme or reason - it's really hard not to fall for its ridiculously horrible, horrible charm.


    The makeup effects look like they were done by a group of grade school children for some sort of class play while the post synch dubbing just adds to the deliriousness of it all. Lips never match what the actors are saying but it hardly matters as most of the dialogue is absurd and nonsensical anyway. The movie exists more to show off the ample assets of its female cast members than for any other discernible reason. On this level, well, it's a bit of a success really. Rollin has always had a knack for framing the female form and that carries over even to his worse films, including Zombie Lake. Loads of very attractive naked ladies run around all over the place and most of them wind up in the lake at one point. The only survivor of the volleyball team massacre runs topless, screaming, into a local tavern only to pass out on the table where the patrons star at her, seemingly confused, before a few of the more noble winos at the bar carry her upstairs under the orders of the female bartender. It adds nothing to the plot, but it shows off her boobs nicely. Another foxy lady has the unfortunate luck to be standing outside doing nothing but adjusting her stockings only to be attacked by a zombie in plain sight lumbering rather slowly at her. She doesn't even try to get away. If that weren't enough, a dark haired hottie in black bikini briefs decides to bath outside in a giant wooden tub only to stand up, fall down, and get attacked.


    Pay attention to the scene in which Vernon's character brings the reporter back to his place to explain things. You'll clearly see crew members and equipment all over the place any time there's a mirror on the screen, and marvel over the odd collection of taxidermy Vernon's character keeps on hand - a giant owl and a big dead snake. There are other scenes where the zombie make up rubs off on the actors being attacked, and loads and loads of shots of lumbering Nazi zombies just sort of shuffling around looking perplexed. The whole thing is a complete disaster, but so disastrous that it takes on its own surreal sense of awesome, making thing whole thing completely watchable. Good? No, not even remotely, but definitely entertaining if you're in the right frame of mind for it.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    Zombie Lake arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1.66.1 transfer in 1080p high definition. Most Blu-ray enabled Eurocult fans that have seen previous transfers in the Redemption/Kino line will be able to tell you that they don't do any sort of restoration on the elements they have for these titles. Mild to moderate print damage in the form of some minor horizontal and vertical scratches and some more problematic specks is present throughout and there are some spots where the colors fade a bit. There are also one or two shots (the scene in which the Nazis drive around in a tank being a bit one) that look a bit worse than the rest of the footage in the movie, it's possible they're stock footage inserts. The goofy green face paint and cheap make up appliances look extras goofy in high definition. Some clean up would have probably made a certain segment of the public pretty happy, and that's understandable - but with that said, there is significantly more detail present here than on the past DVD release and a fair bit more depth and texture as well. As far as the authoring goes, there are no problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement nor is there even a hint of noise reduction anywhere to be seen. Ultimately the picture here isn't pristine but at times it is amazingly colorful and generally it looks very nice, quite natural and very film like.


    Audio options provided on the disc in English and French language LPCM Mono tracks with subtitles provided in English only. It's interesting to note that the dialogue is slightly different between the two mixes, but not enough to really alter the movie very much. The audio fares well, at least the French track does. The amazingly terrible English dub sounds a fair bit worse for wear but the French track sounds great. That piece of music that Franco uses over and over again in Female Vampire? It gets used even more frequently here! The levels are generally balanced well and the score doesn't sound bad. Dialogue was easy enough to follow and while it's a bit flat and occasionally hollow sounding that's likely got more to do with the original elements than anything else.


    The extras start off with the alternate English language (2:32) opening credits sequence in which the movie is titled Zombie's Lake - kind of cool to see. Additionally we get alternate versions of the opening scene (2:02) and the volleyball/skinny dipping scene (3:58) in which the actresses in question are clothed. These were, according to the text on the DVD, shot with the intention of creating a TV friendly version of the movie. The disc includes two trailers for the feature as well as for Oasis Of The Zombies, Rape Of The Vampire and Demoniacs as well as static menus and chapter selection. All of the extras on the disc are presented in high definition.


    The Final Word:


    Understandably regarded as one of the worst zombie movies ever made and a serious low point in Jean Rollin's career, Zombie Lake is an entertaining mess of film filled to the brim with nonsense and nudity. The Blu-ray from Kino and Redemption doesn't offer up any new extras but does port over everything that was on the previous Image DVD and offers up the movie in a very impressive transfer with both English and French audio options. If you're a fan of the movie, this is a worthwhile upgrade.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!









































    • John Bernhard
      #5
      John Bernhard
      Senior Member
      John Bernhard commented
      Editing a comment
      I subjected a few friends to the TV print at 4 am back in the mid 90's, coming home late from a party. Anyone who says this movie stinks needs to see the TV print to appreciate how bad it can be.Great review Ian, you captured the appeal of this one nicely.

    • Lalala76
      #6
      Lalala76
      Senior Member
      Lalala76 commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by Ian Jane
      I'll double check for you once I get home from work but I'm fairly certain they're both Region A.
      Oasis works on my region B, so I presume this will too

    • Martin Luther Presley
      #7
      Martin Luther Presley
      Junior Member
      Martin Luther Presley commented
      Editing a comment
      Sweet! Thank you!
    Posting comments is disabled.

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