Sunday, March 17, 2013

Oasis of the Zombies: Yawn of the Dead

I can at least say that Oasis of the Zombies (1982) was better than Zombie Lake.  Slightly.  Prolific writer/director  Jesús Franco was originally supposed to direct the latter as well, but didn’t.
Unlike Zombie Lake, Oasis of the Zombies attempts a plot, with Nazi gold lost for decades in the desert at a “damned” oasis (and this is the only explanation we get as to why there are Nazi zombies there).  The North African setting, with dunes, camels, and mustached adventurers, is inviting, but Franco fails to fully deliver.  

After some backstory, a carefree group of students travels from London to hunt the treasure.  They progress toward it at a snail’s pace, and once arrived they are awfully nonchalant when they find the zombies’ last victims, burying them in shallow graves and then having a good laugh.  But soon, the laugh will be on them.

Franco wisely chooses not to reveal the zombies until well into the film.  The zombie makeup is not great, but it is at least sporadically creative (with worms!).  The same could be said of Franco’s cinematography and script, only without the worms (and, perhaps, the creativity).  There are a few hilarious lines, though (“They came from the sand!  They came from the sand which is here!”; “Did you find what you were looking for?”  “I mainly found myself”).  

The exotic scenery in Oasis of the Zombies is nice, but the zombies-beneath-the desert sands idea isn’t really put to good use.  In the end, the zombies plod around and take forever to get anywhere, like this film and many others of its ilk. 

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