JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: Zombie Lake (1981)

EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read another take on this film here

Zombie Lake feels like someone watched Shock Waves and said, “Well, let’s make a zombie Nazi movie right where this stuff actually happened.”

It was supposed to be directed by Jesus Franco, who left the movie over its budget — just imagine how bad that budget had to be — and Eurociné got Jean Rollin on board with just a few days’ notice. It’s not in his official filmography, despite making money, so again — just imagine.

Julian de Laserna also directed parts of the film under the supervision of Rollin, which is why this movie is credited to J.A. Lazer. It was written by Julián Esteban and Eurociné producer Marius Lesoeur using the name A.L. Mariaux.

Twenty years after the second war to end all wars has ended, a small French village has a lake of the damned within it, yet women still skinny dip within it. I mean, if you knew Nazis had been drowned in a lake, would you even go near it? Like some kind of French Larry Vaughn, Howard Vernon keeps denying that there’s any problem.

That’s when reporter Katya Moore (Marcia Sharif) gets to the bottom of things: a woman (Nadine Pascal, you know you’re seen too many Eurotrash when you pick up the actresses without IMDB) in the village had nursed a young soldier back to life and returned this kindness by doing a little bisecting the triangle with her and leaving her with child just in time for him and his entire platoon to be shot to pieces and drowned in the river, as well killing that women moments after he gave birth to their daughter Helena (Anouchka, the daughter of Eurociné’s Daniel Lesoeur; she’s also in Franco’s White Cannibal Queen).

After an entire women’s volleyball team and two cops — including Rollin — are torn to pieces by the Aryan walking dead, the mayor decides to use Helena to lure her undead father and his troops into a mill where they can burn them up.

This movie makes so many mistakes — like being filmed at all, to start with — that it becomes charming. If the war was twenty years ago, how does 1980-1945 = 35 years? Why did they pretend that the water in the beginning is a lake when we can clearly see that it’s a swimming pool and even view an exit sign? Did no one notice that the zombie makeup was rubbing off? Did no one notice that Daniel White just was remixing songs from other movies like Jess Franco’s Female Vampire and The Awful Dr. Orloff? Can you believe that they shot clothes and unclothed versions of this movie? With Antonio Mayans showing up as a one-eyed zombie, can we play six degrees of separation here with Rollin and Franco as well as consider this a Eurociné all-star film? How amazing would this have been if Franco did stay on and made this as another Orloff movie? Isn’t Oasis of the Zombies this movie all over again? Was Charles Band that hungry for content that he bought both those movies for his Wizard Video imprint? If this is not set in the 80s, why are all the roads, signs and buses modern?

If you’re looking for a movie where the crew shows up as often as the cast, this is it. Crew members wander into some shots, show up in mirrors and often leave their cables lying around in nearly every shot.

Yet you know, it’s kind of adorable, if a movie about the French killing soldiers who rise back up at some indeterminate time can be cute. There are bright green men wandering about, mauling nude women and getting their green skin all over everything, all while you can obviously see Howard Vernon in one scene waiting for his cue.

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