Sunday, March 26, 2023

spank the monkey.

As regular readers may know I bought yet another copy of Zombie(s) Lake and Oasis of The Zombies t'other day because quite frankly they're magnificent examples of horror cinema at it's best (plus I needed change for the train home) but what you may not know is the film I left behind on the shelf.

You see it appears that Black House have been releasing the big guns on a budget conscience world without telling anyone.

And to be fair seeing it out in the wild after all these years was a scary experience that caused me to turn tail and run.

Plus it's one of those movies you actually only need one copy of.

I originally rented this beauty (as far as I remember) from Happy Shopper - now Londis - in Sedgley alongside Demons, a film on which Arena stalwart Mr Jamie Letrasetted 'El Cheapo Films Present' on the label and no-one noticed.

We both now work in illustration and graphic design so take from that what you will.

Londis: Where dreams came true and pre-certs were rented to the underaged...Oh and you could buy single fags for 10p.

Interestingly the main reason for watching it at the time was because Howard Vernon was in it and we both loved him in the aforementioned Zombie Lake.

Plus Jamie had read somewhere that it featured nudity.

Look, we were 15 OK?

Saying that tho' it's not like I can use that excuse for owning a copy now can I?

Orloff And The Invisible Man (AKA Orloff Against the Invisible Man, Orloff Against the Invisible Dead, The Invisible Dead, Dr. Orloff’s Invisible Monster, Love Life of the Invisible Man and so on, 1970).
Dir:  Pierre Chevalier (Yes that Pierre Chevalier).
Cast: Howard Vernon, Brigitte Carva, Fernando Sancho, Evane Hanska, Francis Valladeres and Isabel del Río.

Don't let the 70s porno theme put you off as we head back in time to the late 1800's (tho' the sideburns scream 1970s) where the poodle-haired pretty boy Dr. Brian Garondet (dubbing king Valladeres in his only on-screen film role outside those dodgy ones he made with your pals auntie) is rudely awakened from his fireside slumber by the sound of his haggered housekeeper arguing with a wee boy on the stairs.

It seems that the boy (in reality a 30 something homeless person forced into a pair of obscene shorts on the promise of a sandwich) has arrived from the dreaded Castle Orloff (now) because someone there needs help of some kind.


Anyway, bored with staring at the housekeepers haunted visage Garondet grabs his cape and heads off to the local in order to procure a ride.

As is the way in such movies nobody at the inn wants to give him a ride, except that is for one driver who needs the cash for a charisma transplant.

And acting classes.

And to buy some better fitting trousers seeing as the ones he's wearing appear to stop suddenly right above the ankle.

This doesn't stop him grunting and grumbling all the way thru' the woods tho' as he complains to Garondet about everything from Brexit to bloody foreigners via women's lib (some things don't change, especially the directors underpants) so it comes as a blessed relief when the  carriage jerks to a halt after becoming lodged in mud.

Having second thoughts about taking our pompadoured ponce to the castle the driver plays a fantastic wheeze on Garondet, telling him that he needs to get out and push in order to get them unstuck.

As Garondet gets out of the carriage  the driver shoots away giving the vickies to the poor doctor as he does, leaving him stranded in the park behind the directors house sans his luggage as an underpaid crew-member pours a watering can on him from a well concealed ladder.

Luckily, he soon manage to find the castle, only to have Tobias the hulking manservant slam the door in his (pretty) face after telling him in no uncertain terms to get to fuck.

Realizing that the movie only has a 75 minute running time and that the majority of it so far has been taken up with aimless - and endless - shots of a badly lit man walking around a wooded glade, Garondet forces his way in and demands to be taken to Professor Orloff.

Tobias just shrugs his shoulders and wanders off leaving Garondet shuffling uncomfortably in the corner as buxom Brenda the scullery maid (ginger princess Hanska - be still my beating heart) furiously polishes the silverware.

I'd just like to point out that this is by far the most erotic thing that happens during the course of the film.

"Ooh Vic....I've fallen!"

After a few minutes of uncomfortable fork fiddling and fire poking Brenda finally informs Garondet of the Professor's whereabouts before begging him to take her away with him when he leaves.

It seems that something untoward is afoot at Castle Orloff.

Pressing her for more information Brenda explains that the Professors waif-like daughter Cecile (the frighteningly bird like Carva in her one screen appearance - there's a pattern forming here) actually sent for Garondet and only she can explain why.

And with that Brenda hands him a lantern and points him in the direction of Cecile's bedroom before warning him to be careful as the cameraman scarily (crash) zooms onto Brenda's blotchy face.

which strikes him as odd. Since everything has been so normal up until now, of course.

After a few more minutes of aimless meanderings and fire stoking Garondet finally comes across (but not like that) Cecile who quickly - and very woodenly -  explains that, yes, she did indeed send for him due to the fact that something odd is going on in the castle.

It appears that Cecile has become aware of some invisible force at work in the castle, quite literally it seems - she's had a feeling that someone or something has been walking beside her but can see no-one and when she looks into her mirror she senses that someone else is there yet sees no reflection.

Plus there have been footprints in the butter.

Garondet reckons she's just mental and begins to make his excuses to leave but Cecile begs him to stay and at least have a quick chat with her dad.

Never being one to turn down a shot to fuck Anorexic in a sheer polyester nightie Garondet decides that he might as well stay and try to figure out the mystery.

Of the invisible thing that is, the mystery of why anyone would watch this shite is beyond understanding.

Adele: The wilderness years.

Upon entering her father's lab, Garondet is - fairly - surprised to see a book floating above a table before slowly lowering onto it and slamming shut of it's own accord.
With barely a second to digest this wacky wonder Garondet is suddenly confronted by a gun wielding Orloff (Vernon, the reason we are here)  demanding to know who he is.

Garondet does his best with the little talent he has to explain himself before appealing to Orloff's vanity by asking how he made the book move without touching it.

Orloff gleefully announces that he's created an invisible man.

Seems legit.

As if to hammer home the point Orloff orders his see-thru servant to serve some drinks.

This is more than enough to convince Garondet who pulls up a chair and listens intently as Orloff waxes lyrical about creating a superior race of limitless potential as a means of revenge on his unbelieving colleagues at the mad doctor academy.

Which is fair enough I guess.

Garondet being a man of morals is worried that an artificially created invisible superman may be dangerous (you think?) but Orloff assures him - and us - that the creature is in fact a really well rounded individual with no violent tendencies at all.

Phew, well I'm convinced.

Fairly hitting his stride (whilst subtly rubbing his member against a shelf) Orloff continues explaining that his creation is the culmination of more than 20 years of research into invisibility but that the experiment was only successful due to a perfect guinea pig being found 6 years previously.

Tho' he probably doesn't literally mean he used a guinea pig because the fucker would be huge.

"You ain't seen me right?"

According to Orloff's continued ranting the test subject was a local 'subhuman' he found sleeping behind the bins whom he took home and killed him before restructuring his brain enabling him to become invisible subhuman.

Garondet is horrified by Orloff's confession so the professors offers him some wine and decides to tell the whole story behind its creation - in wobbly flashbackovision - in order to justify his actions.

Unfortunately the story that unfolds has fuck all to do with the experiments.

What we do get however is the story of how 6 years earlier (my that was a busy year) Cecile had a heart attack and died (or something) and after being taken to the family crypt two of Orloff's servants - the dirty pillowed Marie (tomb-toothed Del Rio famous for playing 'girl in a car' in the classic Le Chat) and her wannabe lover Ron (Zombie Lake's Claude himself Sancho) head to the tomb in order to steal the jewelery that Cecile was buried in.

But not before a totally gratuitous scene of Marie getting undressed then dressed again, pausing only to jiggle her ample arse at the camera in that way your mum does when she's tipsy.

As they attempt to prize the rings from Cecile's fingers regains consciousness freaking Marie out and causing Ron to stab the poor girl before running away.

You can imagine Orloff's reaction when his evening of deep contemplation is disturbed by his - now living - daughter stumbling back into the house announcing that she was attacked by Ron whilst he was stealing her stuff.

Putting her to bed with a nice cup of cocoa and a digestive biscuit Orloff storms to Ron's room and beats him about the head with a riding crop before dragging him off the the cellar and locking him in a cell.

Begging for his life Ron confesses that it was all Marie's idea and that he only went along with it because she promised to let him touch her bum but Orloff is unimpressed.

To be honest after seeing her arse in the last scene I'd be unimpressed too.

With a curt goodbye Orloff heads off to confront Marie but she's already skipped town with the jewels.

Grabbing a discarded pair of Marie's shite-encrusted underwear from off the radiator Orloff instructs his huntsman to have his dogs hunt her down and the soon find her sitting by a lake admiring her booty.

An angry Orloff beats Marie till her blouse falls of and drags her back to the castle.

Before Garondet can ask what the fuck this has to do with the main plot Orloff interrupts him by telling our hero that the whole ordeal sent Cecile mad and on that bombshell he offers Garondet his hospitality for the night and with the invisible man helpfully opens the door and carrying a lantern for them, Orloff leads his guest to his room.

Bidding his host goodnight Garondet soon discovers that the room features nothing but a broken fireplace and an old flea-bitten three-piece sofa so in an attempt to keep warm he wraps himself in a dog blanket and settles into a chair.

Meanwhile Orloff has ordered Brenda to his laboratory, she must be punished  for bringing the doctor to the castle.

As he lectures the poor girl on the rule pertaining to house calls the invisible man becomes more and more agitated hurling cups and saucers across the room, Brenda becomes more and more terrified (probably to me she just looks bored) begging Orloff not to let the invisible man 'punish' her before fleeing to the cellar.

You can tell where this is going can't you?

"Juliet Bravo!"

Garondet is rudely awakened by Brenda's screams as we cut to Orloff standing over her prone body as he sinisterly whispers "She's yours!" to his see-thru pal.

Stripping her naked we're now treated to a hideously protracted (if not unintentionally amusing) scene where poor Hanska is made to roll around naked whilst the cameraman randomly zooms in on her massive unkempt bush and ruddy arse stopping occasionally to linger on her confused expression as she gamely throws herself around a dirty cellar floor.

I'm surprised she ever decided to make another movie.

Eventually Brenda is left exhausted on the straw as Orloff's transparent terror wipes his cock on the remains of her skirt before making his excuses to leave.

Realizing he might be missing out on some (any?) action Garondet uses a fan (as in the cooling down your face type not someone who admires his work) to retrieve the key to his room and hurriedly heads to the cellar to investigate the screams, being utterly useless tho' he ends locked in a dungeon with only a dribbling and incoherent Big Ron for company.

It seems that Ron is responsible for the series of disappearances blighting the area that up until now no-one has mentioned, collecting as he does waifs and strays in order to supply fresh blood for the doctor to feed his creation with.

And it seems that Garondet is the next donor.

Yes I know none of this makes any sense but I didn't write it, you can blame Chevalier and co-writer Juan Fortuny for that.

Tho' seeing as both of them are dead you'd need to hold a séance first.

So it's really not worth the effort is it?
In a move that would make The A Team proud Garondet uses a handy torch to burn thru' the plank holding the door shuts and escapes into the catacombs before getting into an altercation with a rubber bat and finally getting locked into yet another cell by the invisible man.

He really is shit isn't he?

Luckily Cecile, armed with a big bag of flour comes to his rescue.

The flour it seems is to throw around randomly in order to make sure the invisible man isn't following them.


Heading back to her room in order to pack an overnight bag the dynamic duo are surprised when the door bursts open and footprints suddenly appear in the flour.

Garondet gallantly hurls himself in front of Cecile to protect her honour only to trip and bang his head giving the invisible man ample opportunity to drag Cecile into her bedroom and strip her naked.

There's been an elephant in the fridge again.

Luckily Cecile is quite skinny and easily wriggles free of the creatures grasp and hide behind a chair.

Garondet comes to his senses and runs to her aid throwing the remaining flour in the direction of the grunting revealing an obvious double exposure of some poor sod in a manky ape suit looking confused.

Advancing menacingly on Garondet and Cecile - but especially Cecile - the by now visible beast lets out a - fairly lackluster - ROAR! before our medical man on a mission hurls a poker at him rendering the creature unconscious.

Feeling like the big man after beating some underpaid extra in a poundshop Halloween suit Garondet holds Cecile in a manly embrace before handing her a cloak to cover her modesty and heading for safety as black noxious smoke billows all around them like a cut-price nightmarish version of Stars In Their Eyes.

Making their way thru' the smoke filled corridors the pair soon bump into Orloff who in a bizarre twist of fate and character development hugs his daughter tightly whilst apologizing for all the trouble he's caused.

It seems that after introducing his creature to the pleasures of the flesh that the invisible man has gone girl crazy, refusing to obey the Professor and has set the castle on fire in a fit of pique.

And it seems he did all this before trying to stick his carroty member in Cecile.

He must be shattered.

No wonder he fell over when the poker hit him.

Taking the Professors advice (but not his collection of late 70's porn magazines) Cecile and Garondet rush outside the castle, stopping only to watch it burn as they wonder how much the crew paid the owners to let them start so many fires in the windows.

Insurance job anyone?

As a visibly aroused Garondet gazes lustfully at Cecile our hero mentions that he hopes that her father's creation has been destroyed in the fire too.

As do we.

Imagine the surprise then when footprints - accompanied by cries of "OOOH OOOH!" - suddenly appear in the mud moving menacingly (well as menacingly as stop-motion footprints can - toward the toothsome twosome.

Don't get too worried tho' as the dogs from earlier are still around and it appears that they haven't been fed.

Cue 5 minutes of crash zoom canine close-ups as the hungry hounds tear the invisible man limb from limb.


I mean you can't see him so I'm having to guess.

Tho' from the sounds coming from him it's sounds like the dogs are having sex with the hairy fella.

As the noise fades and the dogs disperse Cecile and Garondet turn back toward the castle smiling.

Created by Jess Franco for the 1962 classic The Awful Dr. Orloff (ofte noted as Spain's first 'proper' horror film tho' anyone who's seen the Super 8 footage my granddad took whilst doing his National service there may disagree, it's only proper that after playing fast and loose with other peoples creations over the years that someone would do the same with Franco's titular villain - played as ever by the freakily fantastic Howard Vernon.

Enter (not literally he's been dead since 2005 you sick fuck) Pierre Chevalier, director of the classic Good King Dagobert - as well as another 28 titles I can't be arsed listing - who manages to take all the things we love about Franco (cack -handed dubbing, excessive nudity, 70s bush and threadbare production values) throwing them into a rusty pot before stirring it with a shite-encrusted spoon and serving up something so stupefyingly silly that even Franco himself would think twice before putting his name on it.

And from the man that gave us Oasis of The Zombies that's saying something.

Fernando Sancho: Insert cock here.

The entire Orloff 'plot' (what there is of it) seems to have been put in place purely to save Vernon the indignity of signing on that week and anything remotely interesting that happens during the films scant running time is in place purely to justify the director's almost unhealthy obsession with harshly lit breasts and massive, unshaven pubic hair.

Which is nice but a wee bit distracting.

Especially in the previously mentioned - and fairly offensive it must be said (tho' not by me obviously) -  invisible monkey rape scene which forces an obviously confused Evane Hanska to wriggle about on a shit covered barn floor biting her lip, occasionally thrusting her ample breasts at the camera whilst jiggling her red raw, gravel covered arse.

At least Franco would have had bongo drums playing on the soundtrack.

"Laugh now!"

No time, no money, no mercy -  just one of these things in itself is a serious crime against cinema but if anything the most terrible thing that Chevalier did with this movie was give Paul Verhoeven the idea for Hollow Man.

And that is unforgivable.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

cigarettes and alcohol.

As I admitted earlier this week, I went out and bought another version of Zombie Lake on Wednesday (because reasons).

What I didn't admit was that I also purchased another copy of this classic too. 

But why I hear you cry.

Because it's quite possibly the second best Nazi zombie movie ever made by the writer (and original director) of Zombie Lake

So without further delay allow me to introduce you to the genius that is Oasis of the Zombies.


I know I did.


La Tumba de los muertos vivientes (AKA Grave of the Living Dead, Oasis of the Zombies, Oasis of the Living Dead, Treasure of the Living Dead, Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies. 1983).
Dir: Jesus Franco (probably, well the majority of it, as A.M. Frank).
Cast: Manuel Gélin, Eduardo Fajardo, Henri Lambert, Myriam Landson, Antonio Mayans, Eric Viellard, Javier Maiza, Albino Graziani, Miguel Aristu, Doris Regina, Caroline Audret, and France Lomay (but not Lina Romay - well not in some versions).

"Quick, get some bottles to make Molotov cocktails with like in school".

Our tale of terror opens with two ample arsed ladies who have taken time out from their holiday to sunny Tripoli to visit a haunted oasis in the middle of the desert.

as one would on any package tour.

At least it's somewhere to park your bike.

It appears that the locals have been filling the girls (settle down) heads with all sorts of scary stories about the oasis and how it's haunted by the restless spirits of murdered Nazi soldiers but the ladies, probably thinking that undead baby killers are less likely to try it on with them at the local disco than the greasy mustachioed natives decide to go take a look for themselves.

It comes as no surprise (to us that is, they seem visibly shocked) when they're dragged beneath the sands to their deaths by mysterious and moldy bread-like hands....

Melania's let herself go....less Be Best more Be Beast.

Cut to rugged, porn 'tached Colonel Kurt Maitzell (Lambert) and his sexy chain smoking, oh so slightly stern and Lego haired wife (Landson, covering for Lina Romay who only appears in the French version*) on vacation in Tripoli to catch up with his oldest military acquaintance and World War II rival, the stiff (upper lipped) Captain Robert Blabert Sr. (Maiza).

Landson: sexily supply teacher-like, yet still
replaced by Lina Romay in some versions.

Fighting on opposite sides during World War II (Maitzell alongside Rommel, Blabert with Monty) Maitzell has a business proposition for his former adversary; it appears that $6,000,000 worth of Nazi gold went missing during a battle in the Libyan desert and there’s every reason to think the gold is still there.

Blabert agrees and goes to fetch his map of the site but just when you think that the movie is going to become a kind of 'Indiana Jones vs. the undead' style adventure (albeit a wee bit cheaper) Maitzell stabs Blabert with a poisoned biro and legs it into the desert with the map.

Destination: The Oasis.

Of The Zombies.

And not Oasis in Birmingham where I used to buy all my clothes in the 80s obviously.

Not you.

Suddenly for fear of the film getting too exciting we're transported - by what looks like someone's holiday Super 8's filmed on a cotton bedsheet - to swinging London where Blabert’s son, also confusingly named Robert (Gélin) has just received a letter regarding not only his dads death but a mention of the missing millions.

This obviously has no baring on him deciding to embark post haste to Tripoli.

While he’s getting his stuff together for the journey, Robert Jr. finds his dad’s wartime diary, complete with the exciting tale of his mission to intercept the Nazi gold.

It's so exciting in fact that it causes the picture to go all wobbly as we experience an incredibly overlong flashback full of glaring continuity errors, too much acting and far too many unnecessary sex scenes.

Unlike the flashback in Zombie Lake which is cinematic gold.

"She's turned the weans against us!"

Important things that we learned from this sequence include the fact that between 1943 and 1983, Robert Snr. didn't age one jot (is he perchance related to Howard Vernon’s Zombie Lake Mayor Hoek?), that Robert Jr. was conceived during the war yet is only in his early twenties and that his mum was as a sheiks daughter (and played by the sultry - and slightly boss eyed - Doris Regina, star of Orgy of the Nymphomaniacs).

Oh yes and his dad was really shit at drawing.

Aye....seems legit.

Impressed with his dads tales of daring-do and random impregnations, Robert manages to persuade his pals the council estate Mark Hamill-alike Ronald (Viellard), lank haired troll Sylvia (Audret), and the pube headed, bespectacled Ahmed (Aristu, whom you may remember from The Night of Sincere Sex, no? suit yourself), to join him in Libya on his hunt for the gold.

So far so plodding.

Things soon hot up tho' when we catch up with Colonel Maitzell and his wife (admit it you'd forgotten about them hadn't you?) who, it appears have arrived at the oasis (alongside some badly dubbed shirtless hired muscle) and have decided to rest for the night and start excavations first thing in the morning.

Whilst the Colonel and his missis sleep (well he sleeps, she just continues to smoke) the muscle men sit around playing cards (but not alas using The UnDeck - copies still available) and thinking of the best way to screw over the Maitzells and keep the gold for themselves.

If you hadn't already guessed they are very, very bad men.

Before they can make a decision as to the best way to rid themselves of the Colonel and his wife (tho' the cigarettes will probably finish her off soon) the dunes suddenly burst alive with the sound of undead Nazis rising from their graves beneath the sand.

Well with the sound of various farmyard animals - alongside what sounds like a squeaky rocking chair - slowed down, which much as I admire this avant garde approach to sound design is actually a bit shit.

"Aye son!"

The Colonel manages to escape the ensuing blood bath but not before he's given a nasty hickie by one of the zombies (and we all know what that means), but being such a hard man he's able to stumble back to Tripoli and into Robert and his pals before dying.


Robert seems to find the whole situation a wee bit annoying - tho' not as annoying as his pal Ronald seeing as it's interrupted his attempts to worm his way into the affections (and bri-nylon undies) of the cutely blond, dungaree wearing Erika (professional rude lady Lomay from the classic Pussy Talk 2), assistant to kindly anthropologist cum Dave Lee Travis lookalike Professor Denikan (Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties star Gratziano) and his colleague Steve Soontodie who is that unimportant he doesn't even get a credit on the movie.

Poor sod.

Or very lucky sod depending on how you rate the film.

taking a lighter from his breast pocket, Professor DLT-lite nonchalantly torches The Colonel's body before explaining in great depth that anyone bitten by a zombie will rise from the dead.

Really? well I never.

And probably never will if I continue to spend all my time watching shite like this.

Or at least that's what my mum always said.

It's not Omar Shariff it's Omar the thief....of your heart.

Robert and his pals are suitably nonplussed by all these tales of death - and the fact that the hairy cornflake has just torched a corpse - and reckon that after a good nights kip they can go visit Granddad Sheik, borrow a camel or two then be at the oasis and back with the gold before tea time.

Yeah right.

Not wanting to be stuck in the local town any longer than necessary, Denikan, yummy Erika (after some soft focus hot lovin' with Ronald) and Soontodie decide it'd be best to leave for the desert straight away in order to set up camp and have a cuppa brewing ready for Rob and companies arrival.

And not, I repeat not in order to steal the gold for themselves.

"Is it in yet?"

All that conniving is immaterial tho' as the next day when Robert and co. finally arrive at the oasis they're shocked to find Denikan's party covered in blood and love bites whilst their native guide runs around like a wuss screaming “The living dead! The zombies! The zombies that came out of the sandwich is there!”

Well that's what it sounded like.

Robert assumes this is some kind of sick joke, even going as far as to accuse Denikan of making the whole thing up when the poor guy wakes up shouting the same thing.

The fact that his arse is covered in bite marks is obviously not important.

She's going to have someones eye out.

With our heroes banded together at the oasis, the scene is set for a climactic battle between the living and the dead.

Which would be nice seeing as so far we've only seen the zombies for about 10 minutes in total.

And to be honest I'm not even sure they were actually zombies seeing as they looked (and smelled probably) more like a bunch of homeless folk the director happened across whilst scouting for locations.

But enough of that because the movie is racing (limping?) toward its exciting climax as suddenly the dead begin to rise from the dunes hell bent on eating the would be gold-baggers....

Will Robert and his friends survive the attack?

Will they find the gold?

Will Erika escape or will the zombies eat her whole? (seeing as most of the undead spit that bit out).

Is 'gold-baggers' actually a word?

And how many of my reviews have featured that 'joke' (which was way past it's sell by date when they used it in Carry On Columbus)?

Franco's Oasis of the Zombies can be viewed as a terrifying companion piece to Jean Rollin's classic Zombie Lake, seeing as both films share a similar plot, villains and structure.

Oh yes, and the same script.

Bizarre as it sounds that's actually true and to add even more confusion to the background of the epic Oasis was actually released in dozens of re-edited versions, each one concentrating on a different thread of the plot.

But the strangest thing regarding Oasis of the Zombies is that Franco shot two separate versions of the film simultaneously, one for the French market and one for the Spanish.

Neither of them that good.

"You ain't seen me right?"

As with most (all?) Jess Franco flicks the acting varies from unemotional cardboard to sturdy MDF with most of the females being cast due to arse size and an abundance of bush rather than any thespian ability.

Make-up wise the Nazi zombies are a step up from the green, gloss painted goons of Zombie Lake (which admittedly isn't that difficult) tho' some do look a wee bit too much like necrophiliac sex dolls for my liking.

The Matt Hancock love doll: Insert cock here and fuck him like he fucked the NHS.

Still it's worth a look for any fans of the much maligned Nazi zombie genre or large 1970's European bottoms.

Which means everyone here I guess.

*But don't quote me on that as it may be a total lie.

Friday, March 24, 2023

jl eh?

Was rewatching the Snyder 'cut' of Justice League in preparation for The Flash and still can't get my head around this scene:

"What are your super powers again?"
"I'm Rich"
But I thought his name was Bruce, is Rich his middle name or is it Bruce his middle name and he just prefers it? 
Or is Rich his other alter ego? 
Was he born Bruce, became the Batman and then realize he was Richard all along. 
His name Rich being his superpower in a kind of an homage to the Superman/Kal-El/Clark trichotomy?


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

it's not just the water that's dirty....

My all time favourite lake-based zombie movie has just been re-released on shiny DVD (with an even thinner sleeve than last time if that's at all possible) so I really had to go buy (another) copy, especially seeing as it now features the version with the big grey granny pants not seen since the heady days of the big-boxed Betamax 'Modern Films' release.

Which I also own.

I know I should really get out more.

Don't expect me to be too critical of this unsung masterpiece of the macabre tho' cos it's abso-fucking-lutely brilliant.

If you don't believe me then you're a fool.

And that's a fact.

Now that's out of the way let's start as we mean to go on.....with a wee bit of gratuitous nudity.

 Beware! Zombie Lake!

Are you sitting comfortably?

So let us begin...

Zombie(s) Lake (AKA Le Lac Des Morts Vivants, 1981)
Dir: Jean Rollin and/or Jess Franco (as J.A. Lazer)
Cast: Howard Vernon, Annouchka, Rene Douglas, Youri Rad, Nadine Pascal, Gilda Arancio, Pierre-Marie Escourrou, Alain Petit, Pascale Vital, Jean Rollin, some zombies and a lake.

Welcome to 1970's exploitation Europe and an oh-so-slightly scummy lake somewhere in France, the sun is glistening over the discarded condoms, fag boxes and pop cans as an incredibly buxom beauty (Vital from Come Play With Me 2 - like it matters) is frolicking thru' the trees and gaily throwing her clothes behind her.

Stripped naked and enjoying the sun (unless you're watching the 80's UK 'Modern Films' Betamax edition where she's sporting big grey granny pants) she suddenly notices a 'danger' sign near the waters edge.

Tossing it aside she dives into the welcoming waters of the lake.

Little does she realize that it is, in fact, a lake of death.

Or more correctly a lake of zombies.

A 'zombie lake' if you will.

Swimming fun - death (or at the
very least a huge dose of the shits) to follow.

Sexily splashing away to a frankly fantastic Europorn organ soundtrack and making sure to keep her ample breasts in shot at all times, our wet 'n' wild wench doesn't notice the shadowy figures lurking just below the surface.

Well she wouldn't would she, seeing as all those shadowy figure bits have been filmed miles away and weeks later at a disused public swimming baths.

Anyway, back to the action where without warning - unless you count the sudden burst of 'spooky' organ music that is - a green hand grabs for the girls leg and pulls her below the surface to her doom.

Which is quite scary if I'm honest, tho' not as scary as the loud pops and scratches that constitute a smooth transition to the next scene which appears to be made up of someone's holiday Super 8's of a quaint (if not a little seedy) public house somewhere in Normandy.

Most probably the town of Domfront* if I'm not mistaken.

Inside this marvelous example of early 19th century Orne architecture another, totally different buxom lady (she's blonde for one thing) is serving huge jugs (snigger) of beer to the locals who are busy eating snails and gossiping about the sheer amount of young girls who go missing near the local lake.

"She probably met some young stud eh?" remarks Claude (Rad - best known for his fantastic portrayal of 'the barman' in The Panther Squad), the big burly Brian Blessed alike as his drips piss weak French lager down his plaid shirt.

His rat-like companions twirl their mustaches in agreement before deciding to go see the Mayor if she hasn't shown up by closing time.

I mean come on, those tables aren't going to clean themselves.

Domfront: Local.

Morning dawns and the Mayor (who it appears is played by Ren Hoek from The Ren and Stimpy it's genre god Vernon working to pay off his parking fines) is rudely awakened from his garlic-fueled fantasies by Claude and his chums loudly banging on his door.

It seems that after much frantic searching there's been no sign of the girl except her discarded clothes, so Mayor Ren decides to call in the police from the next village - his town being so small that they don't have any of their own.

Meanwhile, out near the (zombie) lake another busty young woman is busily spending her day pushing a milk churn in a wheelbarrow across a bridge whilst wearing orthopedic shoes.

Which if I'm honest was reason enough to vote remain when we had the chance.

Unfortunately she is so deeply involved in her obviously important job that she totally fails to notice the fact that a shadowy green figure is watching her from the lakeside.

A shadowy figure which is revealed to be a one-eyed zombie in a Nazi uniform.

Well I say Nazi uniform but it's really a pair of moldy Quick-Fit overalls with Swastikas painted on them topped off with a pair of Wellington boots but at least the thought was there.

If not the budget.

The hideous Hun quickly grabs the woman and grapples her to the ground before clumsily exposing her hideous brown bra to the world and finally messily nuzzling her neck.

She screams kicking off her horrendous clogs in the struggle as the zombie dribbles poster paint over her throat in a cacophony of hisses, scratches and pops that suddenly cut to her prone body being laid (but not in that way, tho' I wouldn't put it past the French) on the Mayor's patio by an ever sweatier than earlier Claude.

Check the shoes (and the milk
churn in a wheelbarrow).

"I know how you feel about your daughter," Mayor Ren tells her distraught dad as he shuffles about his daughters corpse desperately trying to cover her big white pants.

Which is nice.

"No son, I ordered semi-skimmed."

As the fumbling father heads off into the bushes for a tearful wank and a garlic frogs leg flavoured Pot Noodle the gathered crowd (all six of them) stand motionless gazing longingly at the Mayor for what seems like an eternity.

Before it gets too uncomfortable tho' there's another cack-handed cut and we're suddenly watching Ren sitting on a bridge, his sinewy wrinkled arms wrapped around two obviously terrified young boys as he slowly drags them ever closer to his quivering, sweat covered lips.

"Is it in yet?"

It turns out that the boys have witnessed something strange near the lake and the Mayor wants all to know all the facts straight from their pretty mouths.

And probably a 'special ' cuddle too.

"Fuck me! It's Jon Pertwee!"

Meanwhile back at the pub ace reporter Janet Ellis (Arancio from Pourvu qu'on ait l'ivresse and your granddad's bed) has arrived in town determined to uncover the mystery of the 'ghostly lake' and heads over to Claude's table to pump him for information.

"You call it the Lake of Ghosts." Announces Janet.

Claude grunts, strokes his droopy mustache and lets loose a very eggy fart before realizing that this would probably make a better title for the film.

So impressed by Janet's use of words - and her hairy back and arse - he quickly offers to take her up the Mayors house.

Which is sadly not a euphemism for field based bare-backing tho' it really should be. 

Once there, Janet wastes no time (OK maybe a minute or so) introducing herself before explaining that she's working on a story regarding the legends of the lake and surrounding area for a local TV show called Zombing About.


Ren tells her she's talking bollocks, which she counters by whipping out a huge book detailing the legends of the lake (and other stuff) from her tiny handbag.

"Now I'm intrigued!" a visibly aroused Ren exclaims, rubbing his boney hands together with glee.

His pleasure is soon curtailed when he begins reading thru' the tome tho' deciding that it's too vague to be of any use.

"The book is too out of date to be useful" he cries.

You heard it here first kids, any books not written within the last forty minutes must be obsolete and should therefore be burned. 

Janet, not being an inbred hick, argues that legends and folktales like these are usually based on fact.

"But they are the very stuff of books." Ren cryptically (and nonsensically) replies, before launching into a tale from the heady days of the second world war.....

What your granddad really did during the war.

Thru' the magic of the 'wobbly dissolve' (that's the actual technical term for it, go on check) we're quickly transported back to the 1940's where a crack squad of German soldiers are battling an (unseen) airplane with pellet guns whilst yet another busty blonde (Pascale, who it turns out actually worked again appearing in everything from Ópalo de fuego: Mercaderes del sexo with Lina Romay to Sechs Schwedinnen im Pensionat with professional sauce-pot Brigitte Lahaie) stands screaming at the chaos and bloodshed going on just out of shot.

Noticing how the sunlight glistens on her ample breasts, Klaus, the sexy blond Nazi-boy (is there any other kind?) in charge (Escourrou - bless you) runs thru' the ensuing explosions to save her, grappling her to the ground as a 'huge' (ahem) bomb goes off.

Later that evening she shows her gratitude by having sex with him in a barn to the strains of romantic choral music.

As morning breaks the lovers prepare to go their separate ways - her to explain to her dad why she's having sex with a Nazi, him to slaughter some more Jews, the disabled etc. - she gives him a huge pendant to remember her by.

Which begs the question who knew they had pound shops in 1940's France?

Anyway, after what seems about 3 days worth of footage of the Nazi's fighting in the snow against (invisible) Russians and driving around aimlessly in a badly painted milk float, Aryan boy returns to the village to find that his 'lady friend' is heavily pregnant.

On discovering this fact - and being a blackclad badboy - he kisses her goodbye and leaves almost immediately to rejoin his jackbooted buddies for a bit more killing.

Cue even more shooting at imaginary foes and driving down deserted country lanes to a slightly sinister soundtrack.

Fear not tho' because before too long - probably due to the rocking motion in the back of the van - the crack troops are all desperate for a toilet break and a quick ciggie.

Just like the audience.

But, unlike the said viewer the soldiers joy is cut short by Claude and his buddies who leap out of the trees and shoot them all dead before dumping their bodies in the local lake.

See? it's all coming together now.

"Not the face luv!"

In a case of spooky coincidence - or plot contrivance take your pick - blond boy's squeeze dies at exactly the same moment.

Tho' this may have more to do with the fact that she's giving birth to a ball headed baby than some supernatural quirk of fate.

Janet, unable to hide her disappointment at such a shite story makes her farewells and heads back to the pub with only an evening of cheap drink and the chance of Claude pawing at her underwear with his sweaty sausage fingers for comfort.

Which, if I'm honest sounds a pretty good night.

Meanwhile back at the lake a local all-girl volleyball team have decided to stop for a picnic followed by some nude cavorting to a jaunty Hammond organ score.

As groups of women together are known to do.

Giggling, combing each others hair and throwing a ball around (in glorious boob bouncing close-up) they're all blissfully unaware of the evil lurking nearby.

And I'm not talking about Claude.

A nude volleyball team frolicking in a lake earlier today.

As is always the way in these situations there's usually one person for whom jiggling about in the nude is never enough, so a cry of "Let's all go for a swim in this inviting and zombie-free lake!" is soon heard and the ladies cheerfully dive in for more ball based, giggly fun.

But down below the zombies are on the move.

Not too quickly tho' as they appear to be enjoying the underwater shots of the girls swimming, doing star jumps and kicking their legs wide open as much as we are.

I don't have the words.

The zombies soon remember that this is meant to be a horror film tho' and soon enough decide to attack, fondling the ladies soft thighs as they drag them to their doom at the bottom of the lake.

Luckily one of the team has been sitting on the banks painting her nails so manages to run screaming and wobbling towards the village clad only in a big (and I mean BIG) pair of blue pants.

Claude and his posse are enjoying a quiet beer or three (now there's a surprise) when she bursts into the pub screaming before promptly collapses on their table.

Obviously impressed by the service and totally enamored by her choice of underwear Claude orders his pals to take her 'up the stairs' (I don't know if this is a particularly French sexual activity but we never see her again) whilst at the same time top 'tecs Spitz and Moran (played by a shaved ferret and Rollin himself, fact fans) arrive on the scene, stopping by the pub to ask directions to Mayor Ren's residence.

It's all go in this town isn't it?

"Waitress! this gammons off!"

Mayor Ren cracks under the good hair/bad hair double act and reveals the full sordid history of the 'Lake of the Damned' and how it's evil has stretched back as far as the middle ages and maybe even earlier.

Tho' probably not as far back as lunchtime tho' because that would be silly.

Spitz and Moran unfortunately think he's talking complete shite and decides to go back to the pub to, um, 'interview' people.

As all this is going down (as the yoof say) our favourite Aryan zombie has taken a break from all the killing and decided to go and visit his now grown up (well 12 year old) daughter Helena (Anouchka - star of White Cannibal Queen and daughter of producer Daniel Lesoeur, which if nothing else meant she knew exactly who to fuck to get out of the movie).

Surprisingly she takes his re-appearance quite well, seeing as he's now a green skinned, undead beast in a (possibly very damp smelling) German uniform.

The lack of surprise is only equaled by the films lack of logic, I mean it's now the 'modern' (well the 1980's) day, so how come she's not in her early 40's?

Ignoring this vexing plot point they exchange knowing glances and he heads back to the lake.

But what of Europe's greatest detective duo?

"Where's mah hoosekeepin'?"

Well Spitz and Moran, now bored with getting pissed and annoying the locals elect to go and investigate the disappearance of the basketball team everyone's talking about, especially upon hearing that they were nude.

Heading out to the lake the dynamic duo soon come across an abandoned camper van and piles of ladies clothes.

"Do you think it's foul play?" asks Moran as he wipes his now flaccid member on a discarded t-shirt.

"It beats me," Spitz replies, "There's no clue to what happened." 

Save the bloodstained shoes and claw marks on the benches obviously.

Shrugging at each other in a manner usually reserved for impatient waiters the pair proceed to rifle thru' the team's discarded handbags no doubt in order to pocket lipsticks, blusher etc. to give to their wives.

But as this blatant abuse of police power continues the zombies are slowly rising from their watery graves and preparing to attack killing the detectives.

But this is only the beginning of their lust for vengeance (and lust for blood and possibly big pants too) as the unstoppable zombie horde starts to shuffle towards the village.....

Your can't imagine the sheer ecstatic pleasure I feel every time a young film fan inadvertently discovers the joy of Jean Rollin/Jess Franco's infamous no-budget zombie 'epic', directed under the frankly fantastic pseudonym 'J.A. Lazer' and starring Rollin regular, the frighteningly ferret like Howard Vernon - what Zombie Lake lacks in budget, plot, effects, editing, coherent storytelling etc. it more than makes up for with lots of long, lingering nude scenes (not found in the original bulky boxed betamax UK Modern Films release) alongside scenes of such mind numbing bizarreness that you'll be flicking back to make sure you really did see them.

And then just flicking away in general.

Seriously it's that good.

Experience the crew forgetting to turn the lights on till halfway through a scene!

Recoil in horror as Nazi zombies in green emulsion stomp about in a swimming pool!

Swoon as grannie-haired Gilda Arancio sits in the pub with a sweating mustached man!

Go open another bag of crisps as the unnecessary love story subplot (complete with soft focus ‘lurve’ scenes) unfolds in bum numbing detail!

Strain your ears trying to decipher the almost Lynchian dialogue and get a headache attempting to figure out how it relates to the action on screen!

Get slightly uncomfortable as you watch the antics of the nude female basketball team unfold to a cheesy 'europorn' score and much more besides!

Your mum and dad drunk at Christmas.

You know you’re onto a winner when you realize that Rollin was in fact using a completely different script to the one his actors had (he admitted as much in a 1981 interview in Starburst Magazine number 48…go find it out, it’s the special Zombie issue fact fans) meaning that for the majority of the films shoot people were just looking at him blankly as he barked out directions at them.

If only  Jennifer Kent had have had the same problem during The Babadook we might have had a halfway decent movie.

Plus when Jess Franco has dropped out of a project due to it being utter shit you know you're in trouble.

That's not me on the cover BTW....Everyone knows that I was the small boy in Suspiria.

Usually at this point I spend ages ripping a film apart and making puerile jokes at the crews expense but in all honesty I can't do it with Zombie(s) Lake because it's so damn wonderful.

No, really.

If it wasn't then why did Jess Franco remake it a few years later as Oasis of The Zombies?

Seriously, same plot, villains and structure.

Oh yes, and the same script.

Essential viewing for fans of Eurotrash horror, anyone who thinks they've already seen the worst movie ever or those who really enjoyed 'Bloody Moon'.

Sheer genius.

* Domfront is a very pretty hilltown in the south of Normandy full of ancient ramparts and a quaint old town centre with half timbered houses, an historic church and a breathtaking castle.

There is also a popular - and cheap - market on Friday mornings.

More importantly I was once taken advantage of by a much older girl from there (her name was Cécile Fournier and she smelled of Mint Aero) in the ZigZag toilets in Birmingham back in 1986 who I then proceeded to follow around for 6 months like a lost puppy.

Every single week.

After a fair bit of sneaky hand holding and the like (she said she felt guilty as I was but a boy) she eventually asked me to move to France with her to live on her family farm but being really young and nervous I declined, tho' I've no idea if that's a reason to love Zombie(s) Lake or not.

Answers to the usual email address.

Nuff said.