French film poster for Zombie Lake
|Produced by||Daniel Lesoeur|
|Music by||Daniel White|
|Running time||90 minutes|
Zombie Lake (French: Le lac des morts vivants) is a 1981 Spanish-French horror film directed by Jean Rollin and Julian de Laserna. The film stars Howard Vernon as the mayor of a small French town that is plagued by Nazi zombies who were killed by the town's villagers ten years earlier.
Zombie Lake was initially going to be directed by Jesus Franco who left the picture after having arguments with the distributor Eurociné. The film was taken over at last minute by Jean Rollin. Zombie Lake has received generally negative reviews from contemporary critics who focused their reviews on the film's low production quality and similarity to Ken Wiederhorn's Shock Waves (1977).
The story opens in a small French village ten years after World War II. The villagers refer to a small nearby lake known as the "lake of the damned." A group of young women go skinnydipping in the lake and are attacked by zombie Nazi soldiers who drown them. The zombies later leave the lake and attack women within the town. The mayor of the town (Howard Vernon) refuses to take action against the zombie attacks until the reporter Katya Moore (Marcia Sharif) arrives to investigate.
After Moore returns a book to the mayor, he discusses with her the history of the town during the German occupation. His story is about a young Nazi soldier who protected a local woman from enemy gunfire. He was nursed back to health by the woman, who offered him her pendant and had sex with him. Returning to the woman later, the soldier finds her dying after giving birth to their daughter Helena. The soldier and his full squadron are then killed by a team of townspeople lead by the mayor. Their bodies were disposed of in the lake.
The mayor says that he believes the zombies are the soldiers returning from the dead. Later, a female basketball team visiting the town is attacked by the zombies. Given the scale of the tragedy, the mayor calls for police assistance who send two detectives over to investigate. They too are killed by the zombies. The mayor then devises a plan to use the zombie's relationship with Helena by having her lure them into a mill. The zombies enter the mill, which is then destroyed by the villagers using flame-throwers.
Zombie Lake was initially going to be directed by Jesus Franco. Franco left the project after having arguments with the film's distributor Eurociné. Eurociné had director Jean Rollin direct the film. He entered production with only a few days notice. The film's final product is credited to J.A. Lazer. Julian de Laserna directed parts of the film under the supervision of Jean Rollin. The film credits them both under the pseudonym 'J.A. Laser'. Rollin appears in the film as Inspector Spitz.
The film had two separate editors. Claude Gros was the editor for the French and international versions of the film while Maria Luisa Soriano was the editor for the Spanish version. The score by Daniel White was described by Tim Lucas in Video Watchdog as "taken from at least four other movies".
Zombie Lake was released by Wizard Home Video on VHS. The film was released on DVD by Image Entertainment as part of their Euro Shock collection on March 27, 2001. The film was released on DVD in the by Arrow Films on February 9, 2004.
The film was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD by Kino Film on February 26, 2013. The transfer of the Kino discs of the Zombie Lake were mastered to have scenes that are set at night but shot in the daytime appear as if it is night.
Tim Lucas wrote in Video Watchdog that Zombie Lake was "an undeniably sloppy film" Lucas also noted the production quality citing poor make-up, score and acting from Anoushka. PopMatters gave the film a rating of four out of ten feeling it wasn't as good as the Nazi zombie film Shock Waves. Glenn Kay, author of Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide criticized the acting and make-up in the film, and stated that "the sound mix is one of the worst recorded for a feature film." Horror website Bloody Disgusting gave the film a two out of five rating, praising it as a non-typical zombie film but noting cheap effects and calling it "crappy and terribly slow". Online film database Allmovie gave the film one star out of five, stating that "those looking for a better treatment of the same plot should consider Ken Wiederhorn's Shock Waves instead".
- "Credits". BFI Film & Television Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- "Release". BFI Film & Television Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Lucas, Tim (July–August 2013). "Discs in Depth". Video Watchdog (Cincinnati, Ohio): 65.
- "Le Lac des morts-vivants". bifi.fr (in French). Retrieved November 26, 2013.
- "El Lago de Los Muertos Vivientes". BFI Film & Television Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Lucas, Tim (July–August 2013). "Discs in Depth". Video Watchdog (Cincinnati, Ohio): 66.
- Lãzaro-Reboll, 2012. p.56
- "Lesoeur, Marius". BFI Film & Television Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Lucas, Tim (July–August 2013). "Discs in Depth". Video Watchdog (Cincinnati, Ohio): 67.
- "Zombie Lake (1980) – Releases". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Barrett, Michael (March 29, 2013). "'Zombie Lake' (1980) & 'Oasis of the Zombies' (1982)". PopMatters. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Wood, Bret (July–August 2013). "Digital Alchemy". Video Watchdog (Cincinnati, Ohio): 68.
- Kay, 2008. p.123-124
- Cooper, Patrick (March 3, 2013). "[BD Review] 'Zombie Lake' has a Slow Pace and Dull Story". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Firsching, Robert. "Zombie Lake". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Lãzaro-Reboll, Antonio (2012). Spanish Horror Film. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0748636382. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Kay, Glenn (2008). Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1569766835. Retrieved December 17, 2013.