LE LAC DES MORTS VIVANT (1981)
Article 5422 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jean Rollin and Julian de Laserna
Featuring Howard Vernon, Pierre-Marie Escourrou, Anouchka
Country: France / Spain
What it is: Soggy
A village is terrorized by a horde of zombie Nazis that live in the local lake.
The last time I encountered Jean Rollin (Mr. Arty/Erotic/Gory, as I think of him), he was making concessions to coherence and commerciality with THE GRAPES OF DEATH, which wasn’t bad. I wish I could say the same thing here. The gore is pretty light this time around (especially for a zombie movie), the eroticism is replaced by having lots of nudity (which isn’t quite the same thing), and the artiness is nowhere to be found. That’s what’s so disappointing about this one; whatever I felt about his other movies, I always felt that he had an authentic, individual vision that added to their allure. This one feels like a crass throwaway. Rollin himself was embarrassed by the movie and refused for many years to say he directed it. I don’t know what the original French dialogue was like, but the English dubbing is laughably bad. The only interesting thing from a story perspective is that there’s a “good” zombie who becomes attached to the daughter he engendered when he was still alive, and this apparently doesn’t fit in with the zombie code, based on the fight he has with a fellow zombie. If there’s a lesson here, it’s this – if you ambush and kill a passel of wandering Nazis, don’t just dump their bodies in a lake or something like this will happen. My favorite moment – just before a naked woman takes a dip in zombie lake, she pulls a sign out of the ground and throws it away, and I kept wondering if the sign was the international symbol for “Zombies Present – No Swimming Allowed”.