Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies (1981, Jesus Franco)

I remember shortly after getting into zombie cinema via George Romero's films, I was on the lookout for anything that may be similar.  I was walking through the old Woolworth's store at the Dedham Mall (R.I.P.) in Dedham, MA and found a bin of bargain video tapes.  This was probably 1996 and as I perused through this pile of mostly public domain garbage, I happened upon one with the word Zombie in the title.  I remember picking up the tape and seeing a horrible cover with a close up of an eyeless zombie drooling blood and the title OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES with a little swastika at the top.  The thing that really grabbed me though was what was written at the bottom of the cover - "THIS VIDEO FILM SHOULD NOT BE RENTED TO OR VIEWED BY PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE".  That tagline actually frightened me a little, thinking maybe viewing the film with my underage eyes would corrupt me for life.  I actually put the tape down and decided I would think about it.  I showed it to my mother but was unsure if I'd get it or not.  Before I made up my mind, my mother comes out of the store with the tape and hands it to me.  Thanks Mom, you're the best (*sniffle*).
Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies (aka Oasis of the Zombies - in case you didn't guess) is about exactly what you'd expect.  A group of nazi soldiers carrying gold across the African desert during WWII are attacked by Americans troops.  Both sides kill each other except for one American survivor.  The survivor is nursed back to health and has a child with a beautiful native woman who dies giving birth.  The soldier and his baby come back to the states and many years later the soldier dies before going back after the gold.  His son finds out and decides to take 3 friends over to Africa with him to find the gold.  What he doesn't know is that the gold is being protected by the undead corpses of the Nazi soldiers!
After watching this film for the first time in 1996, I was a little underwhelmed.  The movie was ok but didn't blow me away or anything.  I thought it was a pale imitation to the "classic" zombie films I had seen.  Re-evaluating this film 15 years later (and after seeing some of the worst zombie films ever made), I can definitely appreciate the film more now.  It's definitely not a classic nor even close to being a great film, but there are three things that make it special for me.  The first is the great zombie makeups used.  Sure they're nowhere near the best zombies I've seen, but they are effective and actually pretty nasty looking.  My favorites are the guy with the bug eyes and the half skull/half zombie.  The second thing was Jess Franco's direction.  Some of the film is too dark and the use of handheld cameras is ever present but he manages to get several shots in that are absolutely breathtaking.   When two of the characters are frolicking on the beach as the sun is setting, you'd swear you were watching anything but a low budget french/spanish zombie movie.  Franco can always be counted on for this.  The last (and most important to me) is nostalgia.  Just remembering the story I wrote above chokes me up a little and brings me back to a time when life was simple.  Put out by Cheezy Flicks, the presentation here is not much better than my old vhs (the soundtrack's constant hiss makes you think you have a cobra stuck in your eardrum) but anything else just wouldn't feel right.
RATING: 7/10

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