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Shortly after World War II: In a rural French village, a handful of
living dead seem to be inhabitating the local lake. initially they only
attack those who swim in the lake and drink their blood, but every now and
again they even leave the water for more food.
Katya (Gilda Arancio), a reporter, investigates, and learns from the
mayor (Howard Vernon) that during the war, a German battallion stopped at
the village, was shot by partisans and thrown into the lake. But she also
learns that one of the soldiers (Pierre-Marie
Escourrou) saved a woman from the village, that they had a
love-affair and that he fathered her child, Helena, who was born shortly
before her father and his comrades were killed.
When the zombies kill a whole volleyball team that camps at the lake,
it's too much even for the mayor, and he asks for reinforcements for the
village's police - but the two policemen (Antonio Mayans, Jean Rollin) who
show up are more than a little sceptical concerning the zombie story - but
when they examine the area where the volleyball girls were camping, they
are attacked by the zombies themselves.
One of the zombies however is not like the others, Helena's father, who
recognizes her as his daughter, shows her his tender side and even
protects her from the other zombies ...
The villagers try to fight off the zobies with firearms, but with
little success, until reporter Katya has the perfect plan: why not use
Napalm to get rid of them. The mayor agrees enthusiastically, and soon
enough, he finds the perfect bait in Helena, who seems to be somehow able
to communicate with the zombies ...
So Helena lures the zombies to the old mill with a bucket of fresh
blood, where the zombies are burnt to a cinder ...
Legend has it that director Jean Rollin was not the first choice to
direct Zombie Lake, and cast (Howard Vernon, Antonio Mayans, ANdine
Pascal) and crew (Daniel J.White) would suggest that it was originally
destined to be a Jess Franco-film (to whom the film was credited for quite
some time). However, there is no conclusive proof for (or against) this
claim (not that it would be all that important.
However, legend further has it that Jean Rollin accepted the
assignement to do this film on very short notice, actually when he was
planning to go on holiday ... and it looks it, the film is pretty much a
desaster, a slow moving piece of zombie cinema with some of the most
unconvincing living dead alive (sorry for the pun) - Some merely have
their faces painted green while others wear cheap masks that do not
necessarily cover their whole heads -, and extremely silly storyline, and
Daniel J.White's schmaltzy score that doesn't seem appropriate at all. It
is to Jean Rollin's credit that he, despite the hectic production
schedule, managed to include some of his trademark macabre and lyrical
sequences in the film - but unfortunately, such scenes, too, seem very
inappropriate in a zombie flick.
A film not worthy of Jean Rollin - or any other director, for that
matter - and a film he should not be judged by ... but unfortunately one
of his films most readily available worldwide (it seems, as long as a film
has the word zombie in the title, that grants its re-release on
video/DVD/whatever else every few years).