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  Oasis of the Zombies Desert Topping
Year: 1981
Director: Jess Franco
Stars: Manuel Gélin, France Lomay, Jeff Montgomery, Myriam Landson, Eric Viellard, Caroline Audret, Henri Lambert
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: A couple of young women on holiday in the Sahara drive up to this oasis and are impressed with the fact that a fertile forest like this could have sprouted up in a desert area like that. But as they get out, one of the girls grows uncomfortable, as if there were something wrong with this patch of greenery amongst all this sand, although her friend does not listen and sets off to explore. What neither of them notice is the abandoned metal shell with the swastika stencilled onto it lying in the undergrowth, but before long they realise why this place is deserted - it's infested with zombies!

Yes, you suspected Liam Gallagher was one of the undead, didn't you? And here's the film to prove it - oh, no, my mistake, this has nothing to do with the world-dominating Mancunian Britpop band, and more to do with cult auteur Jess Franco adding to his already improbably lengthy set of credits with a cut rate living dead movie. In spite of featuring zombies that are supposed to be resurrected Nazis, the shambling corpses don't look much like that, as those haircuts wouldn't have cut the mustard in the German Army circa 1940 for a start, and they don't even seem to be wearing the proper uniforms.

Contrast that with the film that started off the mini-genre of Nazi zombies, Shock Waves, whose bad guys were very appropriately dressed, or even Jean Rollin's Zombie Lake, which had its monsters as recognisable SS troops, and you'll see that this has a thrown together air that renders it looking shoddy. That's when we actually do get to see them, as it takes around half the film for the creatures to make an appearance; all we get to view in the opening segment is a pair of hands emerging from the sand to grab an anonymous actress's ankles, and a glinting eye in the bushes apparently sizing up the potential prey.

What this is really about is the adventures of Robert (Manuel Gélin), whose surname is meant to be Blabert - Robert Blabert? Even in French, that's just not trying hard enough Mr Screenwriter, who happens also to be the director, Franco. Anyway, London student Robert hears that his father has died in his North African home, and he is understandably upset, but more pertinent to the course of the adventure, Pa Blabert was aware of the location of a horde of Nazi gold. That's right, it's at that darn oasis, though as we never so much as glimpse the treasure we have to take that tidbit of information on trust.

After a stretch of padding that sees Robert tell his friends about his dad and his wartime experiences blowing up Germans which seems to take up a good third of the film though can't surely be that much, Robert and company set out for the oasis. What they don't know is that someone has beaten them to it, the baddies who killed his father in fact, though they receive their comeuppance soon enough when the zombies drag themselves out of the sand and attack. From then on if this was not predictable before, it certainly is now as Robert meets the sheik who is effectively his godfather, and he points them in the right direction although crucially does not warn them that they're in dire peril, even though he must have known full well. Cheers. As it is, this isn't particularly gory, nor that matter particularly exciting, it was simply made to cash in. If you expect that, then you may find some entertainment. Silent movie-style music by Daniel White.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Jess Franco  (1930 - 2013)

Legendary director of predominantly sex-and-horror-based material, Spanish-born Jesus Franco had as many as 200 directing credits to his name. Trained initially as a musician before studying film at the Sorbonne in Paris, Franco began directing in the late 50s. By using the same actors, sets and locations on many films, Franco has maintained an astonishing workrate, and while the quality of his work has sometimes suffered because of this, films such as Virgin Amongst the Living dead, Eugenie, Succubus and She Killed in Ecstasy remain distinctive slices of 60s/70s art-trash.

Most of his films have been released in multiple versions with wildly differing titles, while Franco himself has directed under a bewildering number of pseudonyms. Actors who have regularly appeared in his films include Klaus Kinski, Christopher Lee and wife Lina Romay; fans should also look out for his name on the credits of Orson Welles' Chimes of Midnight, on which he worked as assistant director.

 
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