Tuesday, June 2, 2009

L'abîme des morts vivants (1982)

... aka: Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies
... aka: Grave of the Living Dead
... aka: Oase der Zombies
... aka: Oasis of the Living Dead
... aka: Oasis of the Zombies
... aka: Tomb of the Living Dead, The
... aka: Treasure of the Living Dead
... aka: Trésor des morts vivants, Le

Directed by:
"A.M. Frank" (Jesus Franco)

A group of college students (led by Manuel Gélin as an army captain's son and French adult film actress France "Jordan"/Lomay), a small film crew and some other treasure hunters venture into the Saharan desert; all searching for Rommel's missing cache of gold hidden somewhere in an oasis. And that's not all that's there waiting for them... Some Nazi soldiers killed there years back (shown in a long action flashback with lots of explosions) haunt the oasis and protect the treasure. They're zombies. Flesh-eating zombies. Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies if you want to go by one of the alternate titles. Well, the plot is minor but acceptable, I guess, but the end result is dire. What problems did I have with this movie? Many!

1.) The boring five-minute opening sequence serves no function other than showing two girls walking around in daisy dukes with their asses hanging out of the bottom.

2.) There is no continuity to this film. People jump from location to location with no reasoning. It's difficult to follow from time to time. Not that this would matter a whole lot if this film delivered in other areas, but it doesn't.

3.) The characters are just plain irritating. For instance, in one scene a woman is grabbed by a zombie coming out of the ground. Next time you see her she has a huge smile plastered on her face and doesn't seem to mind the fact she was almost just killed.

4.) In another scene, a woman comes out of her tent, sees some zombies in front of her and instead of like turning around and running in the opposite direction of the zombies, she runs right into the middle of like six of them. They of course quickly grab her, pull her to the ground and bite her breast off.

5.) Not surprisingly, the acting is pretty bad. The most entertaining performance in this movie comes from a rubber-necked camel that kept wiggling its head around.

6.) This goes without saying being a Spanish / French production, but the dialogue, dubbing and editing are all terrible. Even worse than usual. From my knowledge of this movie, different footage was shot for different countries. I'm not sure which version I saw, but only part of cast matches up to what is currently listed on IMDb.

7.) The finale is a complete and utter mess that is so poorly done that it will make you want to destroy the DVD. It's so impenetrably dark that you have no idea what's going on. This movie builds up to a climax you expect to be ripping with gore and violence as the five / six human survivors fend off the living dead soldiers. Instead of getting that, the screen goes almost completely black for several minutes with the occasional shot of fire or noise. Next thing you know it's morning and all of the zombies and everyone else in the cast aside from the two leads has somehow managed to disappear.

I could go on and on, but there's no use. The only good parts of this movie are the zombies. A few of the make-up designs were decent, especially a zombie with ping-pong ball eyes. The occasional shot of the zombies walking over sand dunes is striking as well, but they are not good enough to merit suffering through the rest of this mess. The copy I viewed was perhaps a bad transfer, but the story failed to pull me in at any point in the movie. In fact, I almost fell asleep several times. Avoid it.

Apparently there were two different versions of the film shot simultaneously for different language markets - A French one (titled either Le trésor des morts vivants / "The Treasure of the Living Dead" or L'abîme des morts vivants / "Abyss of the Living Dead") and a Spanish one (La tumba de los muertos vivientes / "Tomb of the Living Dead"). In America it's called either Oasis of the Zombies or Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies. There are cast changes depending on which version you watch, but the cut I saw seemed to have a mixture of the French and Spanish speaking casts. Franco regular Antonio Mayans plays a sheik in both versions and Eduardo Fajardo and Lina Romay (playing a colonel and his wife) are all in the Spanish version only.

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