Death By Cinema – 27 – Oasis of the Zombies

“If I must just choose the method of my demise, I choose…


Death By Cinema!” -Britt Rhuart

Day 27 – Oasis of the Zombies

So, I’ll make this quick, since today is a busy day for me and I’ve already talked about Jess Franco in these reviews. I like Franco’s early work. It shows a passion for film and at least a modicum of talent. His cinematography, for an exploitation film, is usually good. However, today, I’ll be looking at one of his later films, from the early 80s. Oasis of the Zombies is a movie that features Nazi Zombies! With that premise, how can you lose? Well, apparently you can, because this is often of the lists of the worst zombie film ever. How can this be? Did Franco lose the talent or passion he had? What’s going on? Let’s find out!

Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:
To start with, this is a poor print of this movie (looks 5th or 6th generation VHS), but I can roll with it. It’s an exploitation film, so it doesn’t have to be great quality. That being said, it’s very cloudy and the frame keeps jumping.
I will say so far I’m not liking the cinematography. It’s mostly focused on zooms and shots of women’s asses so far.
God, did Franco forget there are other types of camera movements besides zooms?
A couple of bad steady cam shots later, the two females starting off the film get killed by our unseen zombies and we start the most boring credit sequence. Seriously, you could have at least shown their deaths Franco… we could at least use some blood and guts.
In the credits, Jess Franco is credited as AM Frank. It’s not a good sign when the director doesn’t want his real name attached to the film.
So the movie is all about this group of treasure hunters looking for gold lost during WWII. The Nazi’s had the gold and died while trying to move it across the desert. Supposedly their “ghosts” zombies protect the gold. One treasure hunter already poisons and kills another trying to find the gold. He’s supposed to be a Nazi himself, I suppose.
Remember how I love the sound in Bava’s film yesterday? I think I even commented on Franco’s use of sound. There’s no joy in Mudville with this film though. Long scenes of little or no sound or a bad organ score.
This film is very slow and plodding, so far. Franco never went too quick before, but this is miserably slow.
Boy, the dub on this is bad. All the characters, be they German, English, French, or Arab, all have vaguely American accents.
This fire fight is really hard to follow, as all the soldiers look exactly the same. I’m not sure who’s the British and who are the Nazis.
Man, those shots are just badly lit. Why would Franco have an outdoor shot against the sun so everyone looks like a silhouette?
This flashback has already been going on 10 minutes, yet it seems like an hour.
Ok, so the main guy looking for the gold is actually a British soldier. It’s sad it took me 27 minutes to figure that out, but that’s just bad storytelling.
It’s even more confusing as this has all been a flashback by his son, so his son is the guy who’s gonna look for the gold. His friends will come with him… and probably get eaten.
The one guy who killed the other one earlier in the film has arrived at the oasis and they decide to camp out. Maybe now we’ll actually get a couple kills.
They zoom in on something, but my print is so bad, I don’t know what it’s supposed to be.
Okay, so here’s the first zombie and… it looks okay. Not great, but not the worst zombie puppet I’ve seen. The real people dressed as zombies though… yikes. It’s bad. I just looks like they have really muddy faces. One of the guys gets eaten (off camera of course) and another is strangled. Strangled by a zombie… I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.
So, all the major villains are now dead, except for the main baddie who was bitten, but manages to drive off, leaving his friends. We see a bit of gore in this sequence eventually, but it’s real quick. Really though, we see nothing.
Ha! One of the zombies has Marty Feldman eyes.
That is the laziest street merchant I’ve ever seen. He barely tries to sell anything. “Yes. Yes. Look. Nice things.”
BTW, I’m really not commenting on much because NOTHING IS HAPPENING. This is so dull!
So, the main baddie is now a zombie… sorta kinda. He just kinda wanders around weirdly screaming. Seriously, he’s get the weakest screaming game and then dies in the lamest way.
Two reporters talk to a Muslim priest who burns the baddie’s body as our young heroes look on.
You know, the water bouncing off this river is really pretty, but it means the two characters swimming in it are put into silhouette. It’s just sloppy work, Franco.
Actual line: “You look like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.” *everyone cracks up like this is the funniest joke ever, when it is, in fact, not* “Fuck off.” Brilliant response.
So, the group arrives at the oasis, one guy swings a pickaxe one time and he thinks he’s found the gold. That would be too simple.
So there’s a sex scene set to organ music… because when I think mood music, I think a church organ!
The zombies finally begin to attack the friends of our young treasure hunter. The first one dies unconvincingly.
God, even the attacks come so slowly. Franco, I get you want to build suspense, but let’s GO!
The worms crawling across the dead are actually somewhat effective and cool.
Actual line (read with no inflection): “Ronald. No. Ronald. Help me.”
The screen is so muddy on these last shots, it’s hard for me to tell what’s going on, but I’m pretty sure they’re all going to die.
Never mind, our main guy and gas stay alive because he set most of the zombies on fire and… one just fades away? So, are they ghosts or zombies? What?
Actual closing lines of the film: Sheik: “Did you find what you were looking for?” Treasure guy: “I mainly found myself.” BOOOOOOOOO!!!
The film just ends abruptly with a title card reading THE END.

Jess Franco… what happened to you man, you used to be cool. Seriously, this was terrible. It wasn’t shot well, it wasn’t written well, the zombies were terrible, yet somehow more emotive actors than the actual actors. More over, it’s boring. I’v said it before, I can forgive a lot in a film, but I can’t forgive a boring movie. I can’t say this is the worst film I’ve ever seen, nor can I even say this is the worst zombie film, but my God this was a stinker. And I felt so bad! I want to like Jess Franco. I don’t know what happened to him. As shown by my two Orloff reviews, he was a competent director, but here… I mean, you could see flashes of decency, but that’s about as much credit as I’ll give him. I mean, I still seek out his work, especially the early stuff, but… man, what happened?

Anyway, tomorrow I’ll watch a film by Dario Argento, Tenebre. Unfortunately, my print is by the same company who put out Oasis of the Zombies, so while I do have hopes for the film being good, I’m not sure about the overall video quality. We’ll see!

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