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The year was 1980. Schlocko-meister Jess Franco (known primarily for dressing up pornos as legit Horror movies) was contracted to write and direct a movie for Eurocine Productions. The plot was to involve dead Nazi soldiers who return to life as zombies to terrorize a small town. After completing the script, Franco got axed. Was it because his script was so bad? This seems unlikely, since the studio would not have hired anyone with Franco’s reputation for lousy filmmaking in the first place if they’d cared about artistic quality. Also, they seem to have kept and used most if not all of Franco’s screenplay. Anyway, for some reason or other, Franco got booted from the project. Franco was replaced with director Jean Rollin, and the movie, titled ZOMBIE LAKE, got made.

One year later, the producers at Eurocine rehired Franco to direct the exact same movie again, this time calling it OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES. The setting was change from a lake to a desert. Otherwise the plots are identical.

So which one is better?

Hands down it’s ZOMBIE LAKE. Wonderful in the way that only a truly inept, “bad” movie can be wonderful, the film’s underwater sequences, taking place at the titular lake, were in reality filmed in a swimming pool—and it’s painfully obvious that it’s a swimming pool. And the zombie makeup for the revenants is nothing more than green greasepaint, which as would be expected washes off in water. OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES is godawful, too, but of the pair only ZOMBIE LAKE is any fun.

AS a curious aside, Franco filmed OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES twice. There’s the standard version, and a second, Spanish-only version he filmed simultaneously, the way they did it with Universal’s DRACULA. Except both the Universal films, English and Spanish versions, were good. NEITHER of Franco’s OASIS movies are watchable.

TheCheezman • August 31, 2018

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