We open in a small French village shortly after World War II. And if the extreme soft-focus and loopy organ-grinder soundtrack wasn’t a big enough clue, the fact the film quickly focuses and then lingers on a fare damsel first stripping and then dipping into a forbidden lake is ample evidence of the soft-core sleaze we are about to encounter. And if you were paying attention to the credits and do a little digging this conclusion is a slam dunk.
Anyhoo, said damsel is quickly attacked by several soggy ghouls lurking below the surface and she is drowned. And judging by the mayor’s reaction, this has happened before and will likely happen again, which it does, when several more ghouls surface, slosh into town, and tear the throats out of several more unlucky maidens with their teeth. One also notes at this point that these ghouls are decked out in German Wehrmacht uniforms.
Despite all the bodies piling up, the mayor (Vernon) refuses to close the beaches. Enter hotshot reporter, Katya (Moore), whose muckraking and bed-hopping eventually pushes the mayor to bring in the authorities, who are promptly eaten by the ghouls. Meantime, the reporter uncovers the truth: seems that during the war, while the town was occupied, a German soldier fell in love with one of the locals after being injured while saving her from an enemy mortar round. This love was consummated as he recuperated. Alas, this love story doesn’t have a happy ending as the woman dies giving birth to their daughter, topped off with the father and his whole garrison being wiped out by the Resistance. And three guesses to all of you out there as to where they hid the bodies?
Now, one of the resurrected ghouls is easily recognizable as the father. And if there was a reason as to why he and his dead brethren have reactivated and are seeking vengeance on the town I totally missed it. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter as, first, a whole visiting female athletic team goes for a strip ‘n’ dip and are promptly eaten, as is the reporter, leaving the mayor to cook up a master plan of using the orphaned daughter as live bait to lure all the ghouls into a barn where they are promptly napalmed to death.
Like most Euro-smut disguised as a feature film, Zombie Lake’s (1981) greatest sin is being incredulously tedious. The production then doubles-down on a consortium of terrible and uninspired acting, shoddy and (barely) perfunctory make-up effects, and a central plot that requires you to root for the Nazis. And despite the presence of a metric-ton of eye-candy and bare boobies, it’s hard to get any pleasure out of it due to the whackadoodle soundtrack that plays out like the old Magic Organ 8-track my grandparents used to have in their old Caddy. And trying to add those two things together, well, this did not compute.
Zombie Lake was also another feature that Jess Franco backed out of at the last minute (-- too awful for Jess Franco? Noodle that for a bit, Boils and Ghouls), with Jean Rollin coaxed and conned into taking over. Rollin has long since disavowed the film, which is small consolation for those of us who stumbled upon it and took the plunge.
What is Hubrisween? This is Hubrisween. And now, Boils and Ghouls, be sure to follow this linkage to keep track of the whole conglomeration of reviews for Hubrisween right here. Or you can always follow we collective head of knuckle on Letterboxd. Wohoo! A thru Z. I made it!
Zombie Lake (1981) Eurociné :: J.E. Films / P: Marius Lesoeur, Sean Warner, Daniel White / AP: Daniel Lesoeur / D: Jean Rollin / W: Julián Esteban, Jesús Franco / C: Max Monteillet / E: Claude Gros, María Luisa Soriano / M: Daniel White / S: Howard Vernon, Pierre-Marie Escourrou, Anouchka, Antonio Mayans, Marcia Sharif