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UPDATED 4:20:15 – Presented here is my review for “Oasis of the Zombies”. Not only was this the first review written for Horror And Sons, but it was also the very first review I wrote PERIOD. I like to believe that both I and the website have come a long way in these few, short months. It’s not true, but I like to believe it. – Mr. D
Still better than Savage Garden of the Dead
One would think that I would choose a SPECIAL film for my first review. Something with some deep, personal meaning. Possibly my favorite film? Nope. I just grabbed the next movie on the shelf. It’s THAT thought out, folks.
Up for dissection is Jess Franco’s Oasis of The Zombies, a film that some have called the worst zombie film ever made. While it’s not quite deserving of that title, it is pretty “special” in its own way. It’s a film loaded with stock footage, “nighttime” sunlight, awful make-up, multiple extended close-ups of a spider, and one really shaky shot of a camel.
Our film starts in said oasis as we watch 2 young ladies in a jeep roll into the shot. I assume they just came from filming a Nair commercial as they answer the age-old question of “Who wears short shorts?”. I guess that’s proper attire for crusin’ through the deserts of Africa with your gal pals. The girls choose to exit the jeep and stroll around the oasis. Why? Because the director can’t give us any extended ass shots if they were still sitting. And this is a zombie movie. Let’s build some sense of mock suspense by having them walk to their inevitable deaths. Mostly the ass thing. Soon enough, zombie arms burst from the ground and we are left to believe that the Daisy Dukes girls are now zombie chum. We never really find out and no one really cares.
After the opening credits, we get a scene of two men talking about a Nazi convoy carrying $6 million in gold that gets lost after the convoy is attacked. The gold is still there today waiting to be taken. That is, if you don’t get eaten by the zombies that are protecting it. I guess the gold is a good enough deal for one man (we will refer to him as “French George Kennedy”) to kill the other and take off with the map of the gold’s location.
Here is where my problem comes in…
How easy is it to find this oasis? Easy enough for the 2 Mensa members in the first scene to find, I guess. So, zombies or no zombies, no one has gone in there and found this gold yet? And if it’s so easy for random people to just drive into the oasis, why has no one thought to put up a fence or even a sign that said “Yo! Zombies! Stay out!”? And why does Ed Hocken need a map to find this place? Everyone knows how to get there. You see which way you’re pointing? You see that place? Do you see the sign, “Rib Tips”?
We are then finally introduced to the main character, Robert. I’m pretty sure “Robert” is played by Josh Groban. Robert is the son of the man killed by George Kennedy. Robert reads his father’s journal, which then sets off a flashback to a past time when everything was stock footage. The film then treats us to the raid on the convoy, a scene lifted directly from another war movie. A war movie where not a single Nazi soldier was blonde and they all had tans.
The lone survivor of the assault (Robert’s dad) wanders the desert until he collapses from fatigue and exhaustion. I guess he never saw the path that the Nair Pair drove in on 25 mins earlier. Bobby’s dad is saved from perishing in the desert by a passing sheik. I guess those guys just wander around. Any way, Robert’s dad, appreciative guy that he is, pays his gratitude to the sheik by knocking up his daughter and then leaving. If that weren’t “thanks” enough, she later dies while giving birth to Robert. Not only did he kill his mom, but his music sucks too.
We cut back to present time to find Robert and his friends preparing to set out to find this stash of Nazi gold. There really isn’t much to the film after that. Franco stretches the movie out with extended close-ups of a spider in its web and scenes of the characters looking off into the distance brooding. Nazi gold makes you contemplate your place in the world, ya know. When we finally get to the inevitable showdown in the sand versus the zombies, the whole thing feels very rushed despite the fact that most of the characters are just standing around.
Oasis of the Zombies is a bad film with horrendous pacing, a thin plot, make-up that just looks lazy, and a soundtrack that sounds like someone mashing the buttons of a bottom end Casio keyboard. Yet despite all of its many flaws, I still quite enjoy it. It’s bad enough to be entertaining without being completely unwatchable.
For this viewing, I watched Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release. While this is not a clean print by any means, it is still a massive upgrade from the many public domain SD versions found on a lot of those multi-movie sets that you find in the dump bins of your local Walmart or Kmart. In most of the SD versions that I’ve seen, the final showdown scenes were completely unwatchable as the screen would pretty much just turn black. If you are a fan of this film (and really, who is?), the Kino Blu-ray is highly recommended.