Reviewed by Patrick Cooper
Jess Franco was a prolific erotic horror director who has made about 200 films since the 1950s. I can’t imagine that Oasis of the Zombies is one of his more beloved films. He’s best known for his softcore sleaze-fests starring his wife and muse Lina Romay. Even while working within the genre he was known for he was barely capable of making a coherent film. Venturing into zombie territory was a departure for him (possibly why he used the pseudonym A.M. Frank) – there’s no immature zoom-ins on female private parts or uncomfortably long takes of women writhing around on beds. The film did make me writhe around on my couch though, itching the fast-forward button.
Oasis of the Zombies begins with two girls lurching around the titular oasis. They’re holding hands, so you’d think Franco would have them be lesbians out for a romp in the sand. Instead he just zooms-in on their butts and as they stumble across a bunch of human bones and Nazi helmets. There are only a couple of dead ferns covering all of the Nazi paraphernalia, so you’d figure someone would’ve discovered these historically important artifacts by now. There’s even a cannon sticking out of some brush and an exposed swastika! Maybe it’s all an elaborate booby-trap set by the undead Nazi soldiers? In my mind it is.
The film then mechanically goes through a bunch of flashbacks and obligatory exposition. Back in WWII, a convoy in the desert lost $6 million in Nazi gold during a British raid. The battle is shamelessly made up of stock war footage from a different movie. The only survivor is an English soldier, Blabert. A creepy local sheik and his daughter, who Blabert later impregnates, take him in. His illegitimate son, Robert, is sent back to England and Blabert goes native.
Jump to the present and a German veteran tricks Blabert into showing him where the oasis is so he can steal the $6 mill. Also looking for the gold is grown-up Robert and his group of rich university friends. Basically the protagonists we’re supposed to be rooting for are a bunch of privileged rich kids looking to get richer. Get outta my face – I hope they all die slow. When they arrive at the oasis, both parties awaken the undead Nazis and you see where this is going.
More than anything, Oasis of the Zombies is an absolute bore. Like most low-budget fare, it’s edited poorly and takes are always several seconds longer than they need to be. Excruciatingly long scenes are devoted to plot points of absolutely no importance. The acting is typically hokey but at least the zombies are kinda cool. Their makeup is so carelessly thrown on that they’re almost hypnotizing in their shittiness. You sort of have to admire the DIY spirit of the film. It’s not a good zombie movie but as with other Franco films there’s no self-importance behind it. It is what it is, man. Zombie enthusiasts should check this film out, everyone else stay the hell away.
Kino/Redemption Films presents Oasis of the Zombies in 1080p 1.66:1 widescreen with 2.0 audio. The film has been remastered for the first time, but a lot of its scratches, dirt, and random warps are present. The imperfections are appropriate for this type of low-budget film though and I don’t think they’re necessarily distracting. The colors and details look great and there’s no oversaturation.
Trailers for other Kino/Redemption Films releases: Zombie Lake, Female Vampire, and Exorcism.