La Tumba de los muertos vivientes

More bloodthirsty Nazi zombies from Eurociné, the studio which brought you Zombies' Lake. In case that's got your heart pounding with anticipation, let me warn you: Oasis of the Zombies isn't nearly as bad as Zombies' Lake. And unfortunately, nowhere in the movie do zombies devour an annoying British rock band.

Though the credit reads "A.M. Frank", the director is none other than Jess Franco. Horror buffs either love him or detest him, usually for the same reasons. His movies generally have perfunctory plots, tons of gratuitous sex, and bizarre, counter-intuitive camera movements. Sometimes the result is compelling cinema, and sometimes -- often in the same movie -- the result is impossibly stultifying. Oasis of the Zombies isn't likely to win Franco any new admirers, and even Franco's fans will find little of his characteristic verve in it (NOTE: I have heard rumors that this is actually somebody else's hack job on a Franco original, and that La Tumba de los Muertos Vivientes is actually a different, better film. I have no interest in verifying this rumor).

The minimal plot hinges on a lost Nazi convoy somewhere in the North African desert. In November 1943, British soldiers ambushed the convoy near an oasis. The British killed all the Germans, but for some reason failed to retrieve the enormous treasure of gold they were transporting.

The battle scenes are taken from a completely different movie. In fact, they are shot in a completely different scope format. The battle sequences are intercut with new footage to make it seem as though it's all part of the same movie, but since the aspect ratio keeps jumping around, it's clear we're watching a cut-and-paste effort.

After the battle, a surviving British soldier is rescued from the desert sun by a wandering sheikh. The soldier falls in love with the sheikh's sister, who dies bearing his child after he has returned to England. Something tells me this sequence of events wouldn't go unremarked in orthodox Islamic society, but... I suspend my disbelief.

Years later, an ex-Nazi turns up in North Africa, looking for the old British soldier, who has returned to his old haunts. He wants to mount an expedition to find the lost gold. The soldier trusts him enough to actually give him the location of the missing convoy. What the heck, he's only a Nazi! Why not let bygones be bygones? If you can't trust a fascist, who can you trust?

Strange as it may sound, the old Nazi turns out to be a Bad Guy, who kills the British soldier with a lethal injection. Such perfidy! I guess we've all learned a lesson from this:

Never Reveal to a Nazi
the Location of your Hidden Treasure.

Who said horror movies don't provide a valuable social service?

The British soldier's illegitimate half-Arab son, who is studying in England, learns of his father's death. Let's see: the kid would have been born in the mid-1940's, and now he's about 20, so that means this movie takes place in 1964. Except, of course, that the movie was released in 1983, and it looks it -- so we have a sort of Zombies' Lake situation with the timeline (at least it's nice to see a little continuity between these movies).

The kid decides to go looking for the treasure himself, so he and a bunch of his friends skip finals and go to Africa. Once there, the kid meets up with the sheikh, who looks exactly the same as he did all those years ago except for a fake moustache.

In the meantime, the old Nazi's expedition has been turned into zombie chow. This sequence is as close as we get to gore in this movie, as zombies pretend to pull intestines from the semi-nude body of a woman. The zombie makeup is cheesy, but acceptable, although I'd like to point out that after twenty years in the desert, the monsters ought to be mummies, not zombies. And even if there was a drop of moisture left in the zombies, I'm still not sure they'd have earthworms crawling on them in the middle of the Sahara. But I digress...

Anyway, the old Nazi survives long enough to get back to the city and throw a zombie-fit in front of the kid. The kid and his party are unfazed. Off they go to the oasis, where almost everybody gets eaten in a long, drawn-out day-for-night zombie attack scene.

You will not have made it this far without a snooze, or liberal use of the Fast-Forward button. So you run the risk of missing the final indignity, the last and worst lines of the film. The kid and his girlfriend are the only ones to have survived. As they lie in the sweltering Saharan sun, the sheikh comes riding by on a camel. This is their exchange:

Sheikh: Did you find what you were looking for?
The Kid: Mostly, I found myself.

If you can't scare 'em, go for the gross-out. If you can't gross 'em out, induce vomiting via sugar overdose.

Back to the Other Hell