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Oasis of the Zombies (1982)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/26/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/7/2013
Quick, name the weirdest horror movie sub-genre! Time's up! No matter what you said, you were completely wrong...unless you said Nazi zombie (or is it zombie Nazi?) movies. Yes, there is a small, but very real, cadre of these movies, including titles like Shock Waves,Dead Snow, and Zombie Lake. If you know anything about European horror filmmakers, you know that there's never been a bandwagon from which they shied, so it's not surprising to see that prolific Spanish director Jesus Franco delivered an entry into this category entitled Oasis of the Zombies.
During World War II, a convoy of German soldiers traveling through the desert (in Libya if I'm not mistaken) were ambushed by a group of British soldiers, which included a man named Blabert (Javier Maiza), at an oasis. He survived the battle and was nursed back to health by a local Sheikh (Antonio Mayans). Years later, Kurt (Henry Lambert) comes to call on Blabert to discuss the legend of the Nazi gold which was lost at the oasis. Once Blabert unveils a map of the location, Kurt kills him. Meanwhile, college student Robert Blabert (Manuel Gelin) receives word that his father has died. He and his friends -- Sylvie (Caroline Audret), Ronald (Eric Saint-Just), and Ahmed (Miguel Angel Aristu) -- travel to the deceased man's house where Robert discovers his father's diary. The book gives details about the gold and Robert decides that he can't pass up the chance to see a treasure worth millions. The group travels to find the Sheikh, who directs them to the oasis. Once there, they discover that the deceased Nazis are not resting in peace.
As you know, I always try to say something nice about a movie and for a film like this, Oasis of the Zombies has a pretty good central idea. Of course, given the time period in which the film was made, one can't help but wonder if it was influenced by Raiders of the Lost Ark, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Now, given that this is a European movie, the plot is sketchy at times, but it's interesting how it mixes the old-time idea of people racing to find a lost treasure with the more modern notion of flesh-eating zombies.
Now, when it comes to the execution of that idea, Oasis of the Zombies gets nearly everything wrong. It all starts with the oasis itself, which nothing but a sandy area littered with palm branches and car doors which have swastikas painted on them. So, the production design leaves a lot to be desired. So do the zombies themselves. One has pinholes where his eyes should be. Has he been staring at the sun? His opposite also appears, sporting comically large bug eyes. There's also the zombie which is nothing more than a skull on a stick. The zombie attacks are accompanied by an odd noise which literally has nothing to do with what is going on on-screen. During the big attack in the third act, it sounds as if someone is testing the various choices on a sound-effects tape, as we are treated to audio which is simply non-sensical. The "Original Music" is credited to Daniel White, but all of the music I noticed sounded like it had been lifted from the Carnival of Souls soundtrack. As with other Franco cheapies, we get unmotivated zooms, close-ups of eyes, and shots where the focus puller clearly didn't know which way to go. If the subtitles presented here are accurate, one characters claims that it's the middle of the night, when it's clearly afternoon. The acting is sub-par and someone clearly got a deal on ladies' cowboy boots for the wardrobe department. And I'm not here to judge (Well, technically, I am.), but what's up with that big-legged girl in the short-shorts in the first scene?
Oasis of the Zombies isn't as bad as the recently released Zombie Lake, but it's still pretty bad. Yet, it will hold appeal to fans of Eurozombie movies, as it has a feel similar to other entries from this period. While the zombie attacks are few and far between, there is a mild amount of gore here, but nothing approaching Fulci levels. As if typical with the genre, there are too many dialogue scenes. Also, there are too many travelogue scenes. I'm not here to watch people walk through the local market. Most viewers will find Oasis of the Zombies ludicrous and boring, but a select few may enjoy it, while another group will find it to be a great party movie at which to poke fun.
Oasis of the Zombies has the characters dig for the treasure instead of simply brushing away all of those palm branches on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Redemption Films. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. It appears that Redemption only had a theatrical print to work with here, and it's seen better days. While there isn't much grain, there are noticeable scratches, bad splices, and black dots. The oasis battle scene looks especially bad (did it come from another movie?). Despite this, the colors look good, most notably those bright ones which stand out against the desert background. The Disc carries a Linear PCM 2-channel audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 1.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects, but we do get some popping at times. The awful music and weird sounds come through just fine and the English subtitles are easy to read.
The only extra on the Oasis of the Zombies Blu-ray Disc is a TRAILER for the film, which is in English, as well as trailers for other Redemption releases.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.