Worst Movies Ever Made

Scraping the Bottom of the Cinematic Barrel

Worst Movies Ever Made: Death Shock (1981)

51dXJIDz8yL_cropTitle:  Death Shock (1981)

Directed by:  Bill Wright (aka Frank Thring)

Starring:  Linzi Drew, Bill Wright, Lindsay Honey

Buy here:  Amazon UK

Back in the late early 1980s I became quite friendly with British glamour model and actress Linzi Drew and her long-time boyfriend Lindsay Honey, later very well known in the porn biz as cheeky Cockney camcorder chappie Ben Dover. We were chatting about movies one day and he told me that he’d once been involved in a straight-to-video sex and horror film entitled Death Shock. Intrigued, I managed to track down a copy and screen it, and it’s so bad it just has to be included here.

The movie opens with a pretty girl cycling down a remote country lane. Attracted by black magic-type chanting, she stumbles across a load of naked guys in a field. They chase her, strip her, and out comes a very big knife to join all the choppers on view. As it stabs downward we cut to a cheap title card, superimposed over a negative image of the victim screaming. Alfred Hitchcock eat your heart out…

death-shock3_cropFrom that point on it quickly becomes apparent that the makers are more interested in the sex than the horror, and we’re into an extended sequence of three couples screwing in a field. Of course it’s all very well employing performers who can shag well and look great with their clothes off, but they tend not to be very good at acting, and these characters recite their lines like they are learning English as a second language. The dialogue is pretty excruciating anyway, and mostly on the intellectual level of this girlie anti-lesbian jibe: “At least I prefer a stiff pr!@k to t!t$ and p#$$y!”

An excess of strained banter between the horny young couples establishes that they are on an exciting jaunt via the countryside to sample the forbidden delights of Norwich long before Alan Partridge championed them. Inevitably their car breaks down, and a seemingly friendly vicar offers to put them up at his nearby mansion.

The vicar is played by Bill Wright, a well-known character in the porno business who starred in and directed plenty of hardcore flicks under the name of Frank Thring. Wright gets scripting credit and it turns out that he actually directed this movie as well.

Lindsay Honey told me, “Bill directed the whole thing. I worked only as his assistant. But he was so appalled by the way it turned out that he didn’t want his name on it, so he gave the credit to me instead.” Having no shame, Lindsay accepted!

Lindsay’s former wife Linzi Drew also turns up in this as a sexy maid with outrageous purple eyeshadow (“Do you like my boobies? You can touch them if you like…”). Listening to her speak in that broad Bristol accent you can understand why Ken Russell dubbed her single line in Salome’s Last Dance!

The sex continues in the mansion bedrooms, with a lesbian encounter and a kinky threesome thrown in for variety. All these scenes look like they were shot hardcore and edited down (they weren’t). But horror rears its ugly head again when a mad, gap-toothed butler turns up to attack one of the girls. She smashes a bottle over his head and attaches a curling iron to his wedding tackle (I kid you not!).

Fleeing to the cellar, the distraught girl discovers the master of the house conducting the ancient black magic ritual (seen in many a softcore romp) of anointing Linzi Drew’s boobs with a jumbo bottle of Johnson’s Baby Oil. It seems that the satanists (and the vicar is one of them, of course) need “a virgin of sixteen summers” to offer up as a sacrifice. Good luck with that. If they can find one in this cast, I’m Charlie Chan’s Number One Son.

The “twist” ending is enough to make you groan almost as loudly as the performers in the sex scenes, and an end title credit says: Don’t Miss Death Shock II – Coming Soon! We’ll pass, thank you. The budget was £5,000, and it’s not up there on the screen.

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New Trailer for Asylum actioner MERCENARIES

PrisonRaid_cropLow-budget “blockbuster” studio The Asylum may not be today’s Roger Corman outfit the way they think they are, but there’s no denying the success they’ve found churning out the likes of Sharknado, Mega Piranha and the Mega Shark vs. franchise.  When not making Nature’s Revenge pics for Syfy, they’re knocking off zero-budget versions of big-screen titles, often pre-empting those to the marketplace. The latest of these is their version of a distaff Expendables flick, taking off the Expendabelles before it even happens.

For those who have wallowed in low-budget actioners for decades now, this trailer really does hit some of the right notes, although CG explosions have replaced using stock footage or just doing them badly. And with Tarantino alumni Zoe Bell and Vivica A. Fox alongside Arnie alumni Kristanna Loken and Brigitte Nielsen, plus kung fu queen Cynthia Rothrock, all on screen, you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be settling down to Mercenaries with a giant tub of popcorn and a lot to drink!

Worst Case of the Crabs On Screen: The Lost Continent (1968)

916R6Xtcs-L_SL1500_cropTitle:  The Lost Continent (1968)
Directed by:  Michael Carreras
Starring:  Eric Porter, Hildegard Knef, Suzanna Leigh, Tony Beckley, Dana Gillespie, Jimmy Hanley, Ben Carruthers, James Cossins, Neil McCallum, Nigel Stock, Victor Maddern, Michael Ripper
Buy here:  Amazon UK

As a general rule of thumb I have a soft spot (somewhere between my ears) for any movies involving giant spiders or giant crabs. And if they are both shoehorned into the same film then I’m on it like a car bonnet.

There’s only one giant crab in Hammer’s The Lost Continent, but it’s so big and so obviously fake that you’ve got no choice but to love it. This supremely bad but hugely enjoyable fantasy also features giant scorpions and seaweed that eats people – a nice switch from what usually happens in Chinese restaurants.

Hammer generally didn’t have the budgets to stray far from their cosy world of claustrophobic crypts and matte-painted castles, and therefore they usually came unstuck when attempting sci-fi spectacle (Moon Zero Two, anyone?) or jungle fantasies like the hilariously kitsch Slave Girls.

They splurged over half a million squid, sorry, octopus, on making The Lost Continent, which was a lot for them. For that money they could have had lobster as well as crab. The sets were relatively spectacular and the sea scenes were all done in a specially constructed 175.000 gallon tank at Elstree Studios.

hammer films lost continent DANA GILLESPIE 1Leslie Norman (the father of famed British film critic Barry) was hired to direct the picture, but he walked out after a week, leaving producer/writer Michael Carreras to take over. Barry was later asked why his dad had left the film and answered with a mysterious, “…and why not?`”

The storyline centres around an ill-assorted bunch of shady B-movie types who set sail on a ramshackle boat carrying chemicals which explode if they come in contact with water. Yeah, we can see the potential problems there.

The ship ends up stranded in an eerie, fog-enshrouded Sargasso Sea where giant crabs and jellyfish, prehistoric sharks and a lost race of Spanish conquistadors are among the local tourist attractions. There’s also a woman with very large breasts who walks around with marginally smaller balloons on her feet.

Aside from the balloon woman, played by sultry jazz singer Dana Gillespie, the other sizzling sexpot here is slutty blonde Suzanna Leigh. Her erotic seduction technique involves lighting a fag and blowing smoke right in a guy’s face, after which he grabs her and snogs her passionately. Yes, there’s something strangely irresistible about the smell of a Woodbine…

Suzanna is travelling with her dodgy dad Nigel Stock, a doctor with a very bent stethoscope, and Tony Beckley plays a drunken piano player who finally comes good under pressure and delivers an excellent version of Knees Up Mother Brown. Craggy-faced Eric Portman is the down-on-his-luck Captain and the exotic Hildegarde Knef is a shady lady with a past on the run from a banana republic – and not the one that makes women’s fashions.

Lost Continet Lobby Card 01Comedian Jimmy Hanley is the cheery barman who always tries to look on the bright side and therefore has ‘victim’ written all over him. The poor sod duly falls into the clutches of one of the most ridiculous giant crab monsters ever put on celluloid. This big puppet creature obviously can’t do much on its own, so Hanley has to sort of wrestle himself to death in its papier mache pincers. Nice work there from Jimmy, who later got to wrestle with Giant Haystacks.

The film was based on a Dennis Wheatley novel called Uncharted Seas and was meant to cement Hammer’s ongoing relationship with the respected author, who had been delighted with Richard Matheson’s earlier adaptation of his novel, The Devil Rides Out.

Unfortunately for Hammer, Wheatley took one look at this movie and was horrified, but not in a good way. He promptly withdrew permission for the studio to film any of his other books, scuttling a planned adaptation of The Haunting of Toby Jugg, which has a giant spider in it but no crabs.

Despite what crabby old Dennis thought, The Lost Continent is a guilty pleasure worth repeating. It’s now readily available on DVD, and a Blu-ray release is planned. I still can’t figure out why it earned an ‘X’ certificate in its day, but the censor moves in mysterious ways. So do crabs, come to think of it.

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Worst Movies Ever Made: Let Me Die A Woman (1978)

51DGK3T15PL_cropTitle:  Let Me Die A Woman (1978)
Directed and written by:  Doris Wishman (uncredited)
Starring:  Leslie, Deborah Harten, Lisa Carmelle, Frank Pizzo, Carol Sands, Billy Kelman, Doug Martin.
Buy here:  Amazon UK

A late 70s update of Ed Wood’s Glen Or Glenda, this bizarre semi-documentary about true-life sex-change patients is strictly for those with very strong stomachs. For once the box office hype is true  We do indeed “See a man turn into a woman before your eyes”, and I’m sure you can imagine what this entails. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it, let alone seeing the operation displayed in full colour!

Our guide is the frightfully serious Dr. Leo Walton, a physician with a stack of letters after his name, who takes it upon himself to explain the “monstrous biological joke” that causes the birth of transsexuals. His first case study is an attractive young brunette named Anne. She picks up a guy (who looks disconcertingly like Reg Varney from On The Buses!) in the park and takes him back to her apartment. They start to have sex, and poor old Reg doesn’t realise at this point that the hooker he’s with has meat and two veg stuffed down his/her panties!

let-me-die-opening_crop“There are 100,000 transsexuals like Anne in the United States today,” states the Doc sombrely as the camera lingers on salacious images of Anne’s little dingle-dangle while she’s taking a shower. So watch yourselves, guys…

The Doc then explains the process by which transsexuals are turned from men into women. “As you may have noticed, in spite of her female breasts, Anne still has a penis. She is trying to save enough for a final operation, which is the removal of her penis. Then she will become a complete woman.” Some people can’t wait, such as one of the Doc’s patients who was a carpenter by trade. He decided to do the operation himself with a hammer and chisel – we’re shown this in graphic close-up – ouch! “This is not advisable,” states our medical expert. Yeah, we figured that.

The Doc regularly holds encounter groups where transsexuals meet to discuss their problems – this being a long time before The Jeremy Kyle Show. Sadly, most of the people there look like they wouldn’t be attractive to any gender.

The centrepiece of the movie is the sex change operation itself, shown in ghastly close-up, with the penis and scrotum being removed and the excess skin used to create an artificial vagina. This is a pretty traumatic op as you can imagine, and plenty of recuperation is recommended, for the viewer as well as the patient. The Doc gives us a cautionary tale of one character who couldn’t wait to test out their new tackle. On the way home from the hospital she seduced her taxi driver (a scene that’s salaciously dramatised in a near-pornographic way) and split herself open, necessitating a further two weeks under medical supervision.

let_me_die_a_woman_poster_01_cropThere’s also the sad story of a stiff and starchy businessman named Steve, who was on the eve of getting married when he came to the Doc for help. It seems he was uncertain of his sexuality and felt he might like to wear high heels and suspenders rather than boring suits. But before Steve could sort out his dress arrangements he committed suicide by hanging himself. The Doc says he was mortified that he could not explain the reason for the suicide to his wife-to-be, but this patient confidentiality thing’s a bitch. Mind you, it’s apparently all right to explain it to the thousands of rubbernecking punters who rent the video…!

The majority of the movie is made up of a lengthy interview with a fairly glamorous transsexual named Leslie, who says she’s happy with her life now. As this film’s acceptable face of transgender people, her appearence supposedly closes the picture on an optimistic note. But on the whole this is a grubby little affair, filled with grainy stock footage from newsreels and dramatised inserts that look like they belong in a low-rent porno movie.

Best Worst Spy-fi Movie Series Ever: The Matt Helm Films (1966-1969)

51YYRN45CXL_cropTitle:  The Matt Helm Collection (1966-1969)
Directed by:  Phil Karlson
Starring:  Dean Martin, Stella Stevens, Daliah Lavi,
Buy here:  Amazon UK

If Austin Powers had a favourite movie spy series it would have to be the Matt Helm movies made by Dean Martin in the 1960s. Matt was a hard-as-nails U.S. government counter-agent, hero of 27 books by Donald Hamilton. Dino played him as a lecherous, chain-smoking, permanently pickled lounge lizard who gets more crumpet than Greggs. Columbia Pictures originally planned at least five Matt Helm movies, starting with The Silencers (1966), where our hero is joined by sexy Stella Stevens on a booze-fuelled mission to prevent a baddie named The Big O (played by Batman villain Victor Buono) from creating a nuclear disaster.

Dino’s Helm is so laid back that even if a nuclear bomb went of behind him he wouldn’t drop his martini glass. He has a sexy secretary named Lovey Kravesit and a small harem of stunning ‘Slaymates’ ever ready to soap his back in his king-sized tub. He’s armed with a special gun that shoots backwards, a blade-firing camera and exploding buttons.

96JE9fN60EjjvfLiUwaOPNOw9zn_cropThis permanently sozzled superspy also has a fully stocked bar in his wood paneled station wagon so that he can get tanked up as he drives. Hey, it was the 60s, get over it and have one for the road.

Martin was 50 years old when he made his first Matt Helm flick and while he manages to bed every sexy woman he meets he’s not so energetic in the action scenes, But there aren’t that many of them here anyway. The critics hated this movie but Dino had the last laugh, it made a fortune at the box office and he ended up with a bigger payday than Sean Connery got from playing James Bond in the same year’s Thunderball!

Martin was back as Helm the very same year in Murderers Row (1966). The film was supposed to have been released in 1967 but Columbia’s big Christmas release, Casino Royale, was mired in production problems so the Helm pic took its place as a Yuletide treat.

Silencers-startled-Stella_cropThis second movie in the series saw our lackadaisical hero bedding sexy Ann-Margret and trying to stop her evil dad Karl Malden (who changes his accent in every scene) from melting Washington DC with his “helio-beam.” Dino didn’t exactly knock himself out making this one. He refused to travel for Europe to do any location filming, and therefore a good proportion of the movie involves the use of an unconvincing double!

Murderer’s Row took a tip from James Bond’s You Only Live Twice and opened with Dino supposedly being murdered in his bathtub, leading to an amusing scene where his countless girlfriends all turn up to his funeral in the same outfits. The fashions here are 60s kitsch at its craziest, and again Dino is obviously just playing himself, making jokes about fellow rat-packer Frank Sinatra and knocking back whisky on the rocks as he drives. The film features a bad musical number from the pop group ‘Dino, Desi & Billy’. One member is Dean Martin’s son, and we know this because he calls out “Hi Dad!”

The gadgets here include a gun with a delayed action, so that when a baddie uses it and it doesn’t go off they inevitably look down the barrel and… that’s their lot. Cunning.

The Ambushers came next in 1967, with more off-colour jokes, scantily-clad females and plenty of lovable sexism from Dino. Meeting one well-endowed female secret agent Helm comments: “When you say you’re a ‘38’ you ain’t just kidding.”

“It’s not a gun, Mr. Helm,” she replies. “It’s the new weapon they gave me, developed right here in our labs.”

“Developed pretty well, too!” says our man with a wink to camera.

The plot of this one had Dino traveling to Mexico to retrieve a flying saucer stolen by a rogue beer manufacturer! At one point the baddies try to kill Helm by chucking him into a huge vat of ale. How daft is that? The guy who has been thrown in with him glugs frantically that he can’t swim, and Dino coolly advises him: “Drink your way to the bottom.”

Amazingly The Ambushers made a big profit at the box office and so the Helm bandwagon rolled on with The Wrecking Crew (1969). This time our hard-drinking hero linked up with sexy Sharon Tate (a tragic victim of the Manson murders only a few months after this hit cinemas) to save the world’s economy from the meltdown that seems imminent when dastardly crime baron Nigel Green hijacks $1 billion in gold.

Chuck Norris turns up in a small role and Columbia hired Bruce Lee to train Sharon for her kung fu fight with sexy Nancy Kwan – the undoubted highlight of the film. Otherwise it’s all extremely lame, with very tacky production values – at one point Dino lands on a lawn and it bounces!

While The Wrecking Crew was utter rubbish it was not much worse than previous entries, and the only reason it became the final entry in the series was because Dean Martin himself decided to call it a day.

It is believed that he was so distraught over the murder of his Wrecking Crew co-star and friend Sharon Tate that he abandoned the next already-announced Matt Helm motion picture series installment (to be titled The Ravagers), and never played the character again, though there was a short-lived TV series in the 70s starring Anthony Franciosa in the part.

If you’re a fan of Dino himself or maybe just of really trashy 60s spy flicks with swinging chicks and groovy tunes then you’ll probably get a kick out of the Matt Helm movies despite their ineptitude. All four movies are available as a box set from Amazon. Pour yourself a large martini and enjoy.

Worst TV Variety Show Ever: The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club (1974-77)

71iGFPwoJBL_SL1077_cropTitle:  The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club (1974-1977)
Produced by:  Granada Television
Starring:   Bernard Manning, Colin Crompton, and a host of “turns”
Buy here:  Amazon UK

Sometimes when you look back at really bad old TV shows from the 1970s it’s hard to believe that millions of people once used to tune in to watch them on a regular basis. The fact that there were only three TV channels to choose from undoubtedly had a lot to do with this, but it’s still quite inexplicable that so many people would choose to spend their Saturday evenings pint in one hand, fag in the other, wallowing in the dubious pleasures of The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club.

Produced by Granada Television from 1974 to 1977, the series was set in a fictional working men’s club up North, with that most un-PC of comedians, the overweight, sleazy Bernard Manning, leering at the busty barmaid amid a blue haze of cigarette smoke while announcing a series of ever more awful “turns”. Manning’s fellow Comedians star Colin Crompton was the club chairman, ringing a fire bell every now and then and uttering spoof resolutions “On behalf of the Committeeeeeeeeee… I should like to tell you we made a mistake in offering the raffle prize of a diving suit. It is in fact a divan suite.”

According to Manning, Crompton had “less meat on him than Lester Piggott’s whip”. He certainly looked like he’d just given the undertakers the slip, but fitted right in with the rest of the punters, who were a remarkably unattractive bunch. The only sure way to tell the working men from the working women was the latter were drinking port and lemon instead of pints of Double Diamond.

wheeltappers6bAs for the aforementioned “turns”, they were usually performers whose careers were in freefall, the likes of Bill Haley and the Comets, Kathy Kirby, Freddie Garrity (dressed as a chicken) and “Two Ton” Tessie O’Shea, who could always be relied upon to get a sing song going with “Knees Up Mother Brown.” Some of the imported acts who’d seen better days were clearly bewildered at finding themselves on a tiny stage performing for pissed punters munching on peanuts and pork scratchings. Their embarrassment was often compounded by the introductions they got. You could see that Gene Pitney wasn’t happy when Manning announced:  “It’s a good job he was nice to me on the way up because I’ve just met him on the way down.”

Mixed in with the more well known performers were the kind of acts that would have been buzzed off Britain’s Got Talent in five seconds flat, including a female Charlie Chaplin impersonator and glove puppets performing card tricks. There was also a bloke in a gold lame cowboy jacket playing tubular bells and a kettledrum, and some lunatic wrestling a discordant tune from glass bottles. Was there no care in the community back in those days? German Oompah Pah Pah bands and middle-aged pianists were also popular, and crowd participation was not so much encouraged as insisted upon, especially when Bernard launched into an old favourite like “Show Me The Way To Go Home.”

Most of the old Wheeltappers and Shunters shows are available on DVD from Network, but for sheer toe-curling awfulness I’d have to recommend you check out Series 5, containing an oily Patrick Mower hosting the Miss Nightclub 1977 beauty contest. This is not something to put on for feminists. The judges are Alvin Stardust, Corrie’s Bet Lynch and that, er, highly respected MP, Cyril Smith!

Yes, it was indeed another country.

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Best Worst Movies Ever: Caligula (1979)

71wSwGqEY9L_SL1024_cropTitle:  Caligula (1979)
Directed by:  Tinto Brass
Starring:  Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole, John Steiner, Teresa Ann Savoy, Adriana Asti, Paolo Bonacelli, Lori Wagner
Buy here:  Amazon UK

Ah, the majesty of the Roman Empire! The marching legions of Julius Caesar, the breathtaking spectacle of the Circus Maximus, and the legendary debauchery of Rome’s most notorious Emperor, Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus – better known by his one-word moniker, Caligula. In Latin, the name Caligula means “little boots,” but there is nothing little about the boots any would-be successor of this pervert extraordinaire would have to fill.

Among Caligula’s most infamous exploits were a long-standing incestuous relationship with his sister Drusilla, an endless succession of sex partners of both genders and all ages, and the solid gold statue of himself he had built as an idol to be worshipped. He also had a penchant for carrying out prolonged, agonisingly inventive torture on his perceived enemies and once famously launched a massive military campaign against the sea god Neptune, ordering his Roman legions to hurl their spears into the ocean.

Historians have explained Caligula’s bizarre behaviour as a result of his childhood in an atmosphere of political intrigue and betrayal, his tainted family tree (both his grandfather Tiberius and his nephew Nero shared his unusual sexual tastes) and/or a craziness cocktail of epilepsy mixed with schizophrenia. Whatever the cause, the life and times of this imperial freak-show was the source material for the spectacular 1979 Caligula, a $22million flop that was the first step down the path of financial ruin for Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione.

The biggest-budgeted porn movie of all time, Caligula featured such established names as John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole (probably the most aptly named cast member), Malcolm McDowell and even our own dear Queen Helen Mirren cavorting amid a welter of happily fornicating bodies. Unsurprisingly, every major actor involved has since publicly expressed their regret at signing on for these Roman scandals. The A-list cast apparently only discovered they’d been in a porn movie after a bloke down the pub told them…

51arxUBqJ8L_cropGuccione hired Tinto Brass, helmer of Salon Kitty and numerous other Euro-sex masterworks to film all this, which seemed like a wise move at the start. After all, as the saying goes, where there’s muck there’s brass. Hiring acclaimed literary writer Gore Vidal to pen the screenplay took part of the gore side of the equation.

But it all went tits up, so to speak. Bob couldn’t resist meddling, and as the budget spiraled out of control Tinto got fired and Gore tried to get his name removed from the credits. It’s still not clear whether it was Bob or Tito who added the six minutes of hardcore porn involving Penthouse Pets.

Various lawsuits flew back and forth and the film was mired in litigation for two years. When it finally got released, Caligula was labeled a ponderous, campy mess by critics and played solely in one posh Manhattan locale, The Penthouse East, which was equipped with overstuffed upholstered chairs and a then-hefty ticket price of $8.

Since then there have been numerous versions of this notorious sex and violence epic in circulation, most trimmed of the best bits – and yes, we do mean the more extreme hardcore sex and violence. Regular cuts included a scene where a drunken soldier is force-fed wine through a funnel, and then spectacularly disembowelled, and a bit where a severed penis is thrown out as dog food after a torture murder.

Nowadays you can see the film totally uncut thanks to Arrow’s magnificent UK Blu-ray release. Yes, it’s still a total mess, but well worth watching as tribute to the late Guccione’s massive ego. One priceless extra includes a guided tour of the sets in Italy conducted by Bob himself circa 1976, wearing at least 6 pounds of gold chains around his neck!

Felliini would never have been so ostentatious.

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Worst Zombie Movie Ever: Zombie Lake (1980)

81-d23UT4rL_SL1500_cropTitle:  Zombie Lake (1980)
Directed by:  Jean Rollin (as J. A. Lazer)
Starring:  Howard Vernon, Pierre Escourrou, Robert Foster [Antonio Mayans], Marcia Sharif, Anouchka, Nadine Pascal, Youri Rad, Burt Altman, Gilda Arancio, Yvonne Dani, Jean-René Bleu, Jean Rollin.
Buy here:  Amazon UK

A zombie movie to avoid at all costs, this infamous cheapie was supposedly made for the sum of £100,000, though nude vampire specialist Rollin must have spent most of that money in the local pub – judging by the shaky nature of the camerawork and performances!

In fact Rollin only took on the movie after the prolific Jess Franco bowed out (the memorable score is by jazz musician Daniel White, a regular collaborator with Franco, and several Franco regulars can be found in the cast) and then for some inexplicable reason he used the pseudonym of A.J. Lazer. I say inexplicable because, though it’s pretty dire, the movie is certainly no worse than most of Rollin’s other movies, and I can’t see why he’d want to take his name off it.

The opening scene has echoes of Jaws as a pretty young girl goes for a swim in a tranquil lake near a tiny French village on a hot summer’s day. Little does she know that a troupe of Nazi soldiers were murdered and dumped there during the war. A hand breaks the surface, Deliverance-style, and a seedy-looking Nazi zombie appears to drag the girl down to her death. A little later one of the zombies ventures out of the lake to sink his teeth into the neck of another local girl, causing Mayor Howard Vernon to comment, “I’m a bit worried. I fear there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye…”

zombielake5big_cropIt’s obvious that Vernon is harbouring a guilty secret, and he initially tries to put off a female reporter who comes to investigate the murders. Then he tells her about his days in the Resistance, and how he was involved in the slaughter of the German soldiers and the dumping of their bodies. Meanwhile, a bunch of kids in a camper van have also fallen victim to the underwater zombies, who seem to be getting bolder in their activities. When a couple of thick-headed cops arrive to question the locals they also get their throats bitten out and their bodies dragged back into the lake.

Then the zombies invade the village, stumbling upon a couple making love, and a half-naked woman in a bathtub. When they burst into the local pub and start turning over tables, it really is the last straw. “We’d better face the fact that the zombies have declared war,” sighs Vernon. “Anybody with a firearm better get ready!” But of course bullets prove useless against these supernatural characters, and in the end it is up to a youngster, the product of a Nazi’s affair with a local woman, to entice the zombies to a run-down mill where they are ambushed and burned out of existence with flame-throwers.

Rollin’s exploitation movie background ensures he includes plenty of shots from below the waterline depicting a zombie’s-eye view of some nude female swimmers. But the film also has the languorous pace of Rollin’s sexy vampire flicks, and is bound to come as a disappointment to those who like to see intestines being ripped out and eyeballs popped. Mind you, the zombies here are still quite fun in a creepy way. They trundle around in heavy green eye-shadow, with the same sort of glazed expression that those unlucky enough to sit through the film will soon be wearing. The only pleasant diversion is spotting the continuity errors, of which there are many. For example, we see the Nazi soldiers having their boots removed before the bodies are thrown in the lake, but later on the zombies have them back on! Another well-documented tale about the making of this is that Rollin discovered the camera was running too fast, so he asked his actors to act in slow motion to compensate, which probably explains a lot…

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