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Oasis of the Zombies - Arrow Films - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 18 August 2017
Severed Cinema review of Oasis of the Zombies on DVD from Arrow Films


AKA: La tumba de los muertos vivientes, El desierto de los zombies, Oasis dos Zombies, Oase der Zombies, Le tresor des morts vivants, Oaza zombie, Oasis of the Living Dead, Oase der Zombies, Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies, Grave of the Living Dead, The Treasure of the Living Dead.

Directed by: Jesus Franco
Written by: Jesus Franco, Ramon Llido
Produced by: Daniel Lesoeur, Marius Lesoeur
Editing by: Jesus Franco, Claude Gros
Cinematography by: Max Monteillet
Music by: Daniel White, Jesus Franco
Special Effects by: Manolita G. Fraile, Richard Green
Cast: Manuel Gelin, Eduardo Fajardo, France Lomay, Lina Romay, Eric Viellard, Caroline Audret.
Year: 1981
Country: France
Language: English (Dubbed)
Color: Color
Running Time: 1hr 22 mins

Distribution: Arrow Films

In zombie cinema history, I figure that there are levels. You have the big daddy behemoths at the top, e.g. Romero and Fulci’s outputs. Then you have the modern classics -- the cult gems which many have been forgotten like, say, The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue and The Dead Next Door. Then there are the oddballs like Psychomania, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, and The Child. Then it’s down to the level where most hate them, but true fanatics (like myself) adore in equal passion, e.g. Zombie Creeping Flesh, the ASYLUM cheapies, Zombie Lake, etcetera.

Now then, underneath all of these spiralling walking dead staircases we have a chamber devoted to those embarrassing much hated red headed zombie relations which everybody has a hard time with. Newbies on the SOV market made to be crap in a fashion conscious overdone world of zombies get stuck down there with Black Demons and… oh god… Oasis of the Zombies!!! Personally, I watched Black Demons some years ago and I wasn’t greatly impressed but it gave me no issues to loathe it. So for this review, I have unlocked the gateway to the unforgiven bastard of the litter for my first ever viewing -- Blow-faces of the Bomb-bies!

German Nazis and zombies seem to go well together. Shock Waves, Dead Snow and Joel M. Reed’s weirdo Night of the Zombies were all good (Shock Waves is, to me, an absolute staple meal for any horror fan) and the aforementioned, Zombie Lake is funny. How about Oasis of the Zombies then?

Two underdressed hand holding girls head out into the desert to take photographs. They discover loads of rusted and leftover military weapons. “I’m leaving! I’m getting back to the car!” says one blonde and she trots off, scared by noises nearby. “You’re no fun!” her companion is trying her best to free a gun from the ground. Yep, there’s a swastika and hands emerge from the sand to grab the blonde as she runs. Girl number two, darts along to help her screaming mate and falls. The camera looms over her as she shrieks.

That’s a very promising pre-credits sequence, I must say. So, onto the story. It seems that somewhere in the vast desert there lies buried some Nazi gold and stern-faced whisky-drinking men want to get their hands on it all. In November 1943, a German convoy was taking the gold across -- it’s worth six million. Colonel Kurt is putting together an expedition and has met with the only man who knows where this convoy was intercepted.

You know there’s a legend that the ghosts of your soldiers still stand guard over your treasure.” He is told before being shown the map. Kurt trained the soldiers himself. They were fine men, but he says, if the legend is true, then they’ll find out who is the boss. Indeed. Sure enough, minutes later, there’s a double cross and a death. Off our foolhardy adventurer goes with a sneer on his face and the map in his hands. We slip over to London where the dead man’s son, Robert, is alerted on what has happened. He slips over to his deceased father’s home and uncovers letters which speak of the convoy and we are into flashback territory. The troops were known to be ruthless and would kill anyone they came across. The flashback includes his father who, amusingly looks the same age. Cue tons of gunshots, explosions and flying bodies. It’s a massacre. Wounded, Robert’s father heads into the desert alone and tumbles down a few dunes where he is found and rescued by locals in a rather overlong scene. After making love to the girl who nurses him back to health out in the evening sand, he’s off back to his world of the war. Soon after, his new girl, Aisha, has died giving birth to his son.

Back to the modern civilisation, Robert invites a gang of his slacker mates around and tells them he’s planning to go out there and look for the gold. He is to use his inheritance to finance their journey. They decide to dump their college exams and head off to get rich quick.

Meanwhile, our first expedition arrives at the oasis, which served as the scene of the massacre and set up camp for the evening. “Who’s there? Who’s over there?” demands the most bored sounding man I have ever heard. To answer his question, it’s a crazy looking skull-faced one-eyed zombie which chokes him. Three lesser decomposed, but altogether messed up zombies shuffle after another camp sentry, who’s totally oblivious to who’s behind him.

Stop, or I’ll shoot!” Not a chance. They pounce on him and rip into him. Closer to the tents, hands poke out of the ground and shambling corpses approach. “Stop! It’s me! Remember me??!!” cries out their ex ‘boss.’ Kurt empties his revolver into them and runs as his wife, Ingrid, is torn apart. Next is a long semi-nude chow down scene and close-ups of stoned looking zombies. Why do some of these ghouls have long hair? Surely not in the German army? The makeup ranges from fairly cool and wormy, to laugh out loud -- especially one who has his eyes covered in clay with two little pin prick holes so the actor can see! Jesus, look at the gawping slack-jawed one with pop-out eyeballs!!

Expedition one, chalk it up as a failure. It’s left to our mob of teenagers to maybe succeed where they fell. Meeting with another group, including reporters and a Professor, they are informed of an injured man from the prior adventurers, who has just arrived in the town. “We’re looking for the sick man.” says one of them whilst driving along. Arriving at their destination, he says to a Gil Scott-Heron lookalike, “You got the sick man here?” They find him wandering along the path moaning to himself, gaping gory wounds all over his neck and face. This overacting reaches a fever pitch as he collapses and writhes about, arms flaying, until Robert grabs him. “The oasis, where’s the oasis? Where is it, Kurt?” He unfortunately dies after a few more gurgles.

What happened to him?” Sylvia asks. A voice states; “He met the walking dead!” Gil Scott-Heron arranges a funeral pyre and burns Kurt. “We must burn him, otherwise he will come back. He has met the sentries who guard the great secret.” he tells the reporters. Afterwards, Robert and his pals visit The Sheik, the father of Aisha. He agrees to escort them part of the way to the oasis. So Robert, Sylvia, Ahmed and Ron duly follow.

Our teenagers find the Professor’s vehicle already there and abandoned, water canisters still full. They find most of the party dead nearby. “The living dead! Zombies…. Zombies!” sobs the surviving professor. “They came out of the sand…. The dead… God…. They… They….!” he blurts. Erika, who travelled with the professor has also survived. That night, the whole battalion of dead Germans rise and begin their onslaught with X amount of zooms, pans and blurry shots as possible.

The best line of the film has to be in the final battle when one of the lads shouts, “Let’s get some bottles and some gas. We can make Molotov cocktails, like at school!” What a marvellous school that sounded like.

Oasis of the Zombies is longwinded, and there’s passages of minutes where nothing at all happens. Many passages of minutes. The music is more rotten than the ghouls. Some blockhead (or blockheads -- Franco himself and a chap called Daniel White whom found employment in nearly 150 features and TV series. Honestly, I cannot figure out how!), is tinkering on a silly little Hammond organ, churning out the same notes over and over. As slow and rambling as it can be, Oasis of the Zombies redeems itself with the walking dead themselves. Shuffling along, they look the part and I’ve seen much worse makeup in other productions. Being in the desert makes it refreshing, like Dawn of the Mummy, it feels empty and desolate. When the zombies rise from the sand dunes, this one is a winner -- the trouble is it doesn’t happen enough and sometimes when it does, the music FX noises begin to sound like pigs grunting. Honestly. Why???!!

Ronald! No! Help me! Help me! Ahhhhrrrraaaahh!” cries a depressed monotone, Erika, as she’s assaulted by a zombie, which gives you a clue to the level of vocal talents on show here. To be truly honest, it looks as if Franco gave in at the grand finale. It’s void of tension and pointless, added to the fact that the sunlight can end the siege, which changes the beginning daylight chow down in the movie. For the last stand, some of the zombies act lazy, so do most of the cast. Perfect example -- as one person dies, there’s a zombie gnawing at the leg as another just lolls his head on the thigh and stares.

Oasis of the Zombies feels as if you’ve been slapped with a kipper, which can be amusing until you discover it’s decomposed over weeks and its innards have now coated your torso. Franco had a chance to do something a little varied from his usual canon of critic baiting sexual horrors, but he blew it in the last moments. Like Jesus Franco gave a toss. Whilst many Euro directors struggled financially most of the time, he could afford to churn out one bad egg after another, only striking the mark once in a while. Having the nubile, Lina Romay as his wife probably made him feel immortal anyhow.

Oasis of the Zombies is cheap enough to buy and it passes the time. Redemption, however, have slapped a terrific cover on it and put out the cream of all its issued releases -- which doesn't say much since the extras are skinny and some of the film is grainy. Like baking a pile of dog shit and hoping icing on the top will disguise the fact it’s simply a piece of shit!




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 Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 16:9
 Region: PAL R0
 Audio: Dolby Digital Mono

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