Thursday, November 26, 2009


Some movies, like the recent smash hit 'Paranormal Activity', are spectacularly effective despite having all of the odds against them. Some other movies, like the $70 million Korean epic 'Dragon Wars', are spectacularly awful despite having everything going for them.

And then there are movies that fail because, like a South China Air jet made of tofu, maintained by Danii Minogue and piloted by pieces of fruit, their every component is hopelessly substandard. A case in point is 1981's 'Oasis of the Zombies'.

Great... eighty minutes of the living dead singing "Wonderwall" and bickering among themselves.

To fully understand why this film was a bigger fiasco than New Coke, it's necessary to go through the entire crew list, person by incompetent person.

Script and Direction, by Jesus Franco

In the midst of World War Two, a squad of Nazis escorting a gold shipment across the North African desert is ambushed at an oasis by Allied forces. Everyone is killed except for the Allied commander, who is rescued by a local sheik. While he recuperates at the sheik's palace, he impregnates the sheik's daughter, then runs off to rejoin his army.

An indeterminate amount of time later, the son born of the commander's tryst with the sheik's daughter discovers that his father has been murdered. He returns to North Africa from his home in London to find out what has happened. From his father's journals, he discovers that the Nazi gold is still in the oasis, and he and his friends vow to find it and get rich. Little do they know, however, that the Nazis are now zombies who rise up every evening and terrorise anyone dumb enough to be hanging around.

As bare plots go it's not such a bad effort. It's only when the bare plot gets dressed with the underpants of Dialogue, the jeans of Coherence and the shapeless T-shirt of Making Sense that it all comes undone. For example, the son is around 20 years old. That means that the story must be occurring in the early 60s. But the son's car is a 1970s Suzuki 4x4, and his girlfriend is shown wearing a Walkman. Therefore it must be the late 70s or early 80s. So either World War 2 lasted a lot longer than I've been told, or the director has the keen attention to detail of a drunken globus monkey.

Film Editing, by Claude Gros

Pausing the narrative flow every ten minutes to quickly recap the key moments of the previous ten minutes is not a valid editing choice. Unless, of course, you are editing with the intention of developing an insomnia cure.

Cinematography, by Max Monteillet

The colour is washed out, the establishing shots last longer than childbirth, and the closeups are so close that 80% of the screen is just some guy's nose. On the other hand, points for the lingering tracking shots focusing on the bottoms of nubile girls in two-sizes-too-small hotpants.

Max Monteillet, we salute you, you magnificent French pervert.

Original Music, by Daniel White

Imagine a young Philip Glass, zonked out of his brain on diazepam and messing about with his grandma's Hammond organ. Oh, and did I mention that he has Downs Syndrome?

Daniel's style was excellently summed up by viewing buddy JC: "This isn't a soundtrack. He's just fallen asleep on a keyboard."

Special Effects, by Richard Green

One of the zombies was a skull on a stick, animated by having a stage hand waggle it around. And that was a high point.

Sound Design, by Claude Panier

To signify the rattling, wheezing rasp of an oncoming zombie, Claude seems to have simply run his fingers up and down an old metal washboard. This gave the impression that the zombies were all auditioning for a zydeco band.

Acting, by several people who'd never acted before and haven't acted since

We don't expect Oscar-worthy performances from attractive girls cast as zombie fodder in low-budget horror movies. All we want is a little screaming, crying and convulsing as the undead (or at least the skulls on sticks representing the undead) drag them to the ground and start biting them. But even this was beyond the girls of 'Oasis of the Zombies'. Instead of panicked, desperate screams and thrashing, we got irritated little moans and the occasional fidget, as you would if some mosquitoes were really getting on your nerves, or your boyfriend was doing that thing that he knows you really hate.

Ow! Cut that out! I mean it! Ugh, you are so immature!

Assistant Direction, by Daniel Jouaniss

I don't know what an assistant director's duties on a film like this would be. However I'll blame him for not running over Jesus Franco with a Landrover when he had the chance.

And to think I paid 99c for this movie.


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