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Zombie Lake

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Zombie Lake: Infamously bad yet a must-watch for bad movie fans, with comically awful production.

    Zombie Lake Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Zombie Lake's Blu-ray release delights with its clarity and detail, preserving its grindhouse flair with minimal damage and authentic visuals, despite some specks and scratches.

  • Audio
  • Zombie Lake features original French and English dub options in uncompressed PCM 2.0, both with their quirks, including minor discrepancies and tonal differences, yet offer functional, clear soundtracks despite the film's dubbed nature and budget constraints.

  • Extra
  • HD content includes English/French title sequences, less-revealing alternate scenes (6 min total) for TV censorship, and Jean Rollin trailers for horror films.

  • Movie
  • Jean Rollin's 'Zombie Lake,' a notorious low-budget, Nazi zombie film known for gratuitous nudity and poor quality, has a bizarre charm despite its flaws, embodying the essence of cult horror.

    Video: 66

    The Blu-ray presentation of "Zombie Lake" from Kino Lorber/Redemption offers an as-is 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that brings out the film's inherent charm without succumbing to the temptations of digital cleanup or unnecessary restoration. Sourced from an archival negative, the transfer exhibits minimal digital interference, opting instead to retain the film's original grain and texture, replete with occasional specks, light scratches, and small debris. This straightforward approach not only enhances the visual authenticity of the 35mm photography but also allows for an appreciable improvement in resolution and detail over previous formats. Noteworthy is the noticeable clarity in the more laughable aspects of the production, such as the zombie makeup, where the sharper image amplifies both the good and the bizarrely bad elements of the film's aesthetic. Color accuracy and image density benefit from what seems to be light color correction, ensuring that the film's palette appears vibrant yet true to its era, with sound contrast levels and consistent blacks.

    Viewers expecting a polished restoration may be taken aback as "Zombie Lake" maintains its grindhouse ethos, complete with a variety of visual imperfections like white specks and scratches that contribute to its nostalgic charm. However, the enhanced resolution reveals a new level of detail in the film's scenic design, from the intricacies of stone architecture and cobblestone roads to the naturalistic textures of foliage and landscape, enriching the visual experience substantially. The lackluster makeup effects become more pronounced under this new clarity, inadvertently adding to the film's so-bad-it's-good appeal.

    The video quality manages to strike a balance between preserving the raw, unfiltered nature of the original filming and offering a modest technical upgrade that respects the source material. Colors stand out with renewed vigor, particularly the lush greens and over-the-top reds of blood, adding a layer of depth to the film’s visuals without overwhelming them. Interior scenes, despite their traditionally poor lighting, gain a bit of depth, making shadowy areas more discernible without compromising on authenticity. Overall, "Zombie Lake" arrives on Blu-ray with a video presentation that, while far from perfect by modern standards, fittingly encapsulates the movie's eerie charm and enduring appeal as a cult horror classic.

    Audio: 64

    Kino/Redemption's release of "Zombie Lake" on Blu Ray offers aficionados two distinct audio tracks: the original French and an English dub, each delivered in uncompressed Linear PCM 2.0. The quality of both options is remarkably congruent, considering the film's humble beginnings and the fact it was shot without direct sound, leading to an inevitable dubbing that introduces a boxed, synthetic feel to the auditory experience. The nuances between the French and English tracks lie mainly in their execution: subtle differences in dialogue presence and slight tonal variations, particularly in musical scores where the English track exhibits a brighter, more pronounced clarity compared to its French counterpart, which sounds somewhat subdued. Nonetheless, each track manages to capture the essence of the film without descending into distasteful audio artifacts like hissing or dropouts, bolstered by the provision of crisp, white subtitles for those inclined towards the original French dialogue.

    Despite the inherently artificial sound due to the post-production dubbing process, both audio presentations maintain a commendable level of clarity and auditory detail. High-frequency sounds in particular can sometimes verge on stridency, a trait not entirely unexpected given the film’s production values. The quality of ambient effects and the use of recycled music broaden the soundscape modestly, without venturing into overambitious territory. The bass is present, fittingly tailored to the film’s age and design, enhancing but never overwhelming the audio mix.

    The nuanced differences between the French and English tracks highlight a choice of preference for the viewer rather than a clear superiority. The English version suffers slightly from additional noise and hissing, whereas the French track maintains a cleaner auditory center. Both tracks, however, succeed in delivering a stable and strong audio presence, with dialogue that remains intelligible amidst action sequences that come through with impressive clarity. This balance of quality across both audio options reflects a diligent preservation effort conducive to an engaging viewing experience for fans and newcomers alike.

    Extra: 41

    The extra presentation of the Blu-Ray release of "Zombie Lake" provides a compelling glimpse into the film's adaptation for different audiences, as well as a broader insight into the work of Jean Rollin. The inclusion of both English and French credit sequences allows viewers to experience the film's opening as it would have been presented in various regions. Moreover, the alternate scenes feature censored versions of sequences, specifically tailored to evade censorship, highlighting the juxtaposition between creative intent and regulatory constraints. The trailers not only dive deeper into "Zombie Lake," but also broaden the scope by featuring other works by Jean Rollin, thus offering a richer context of his cinematic universe. This compilation is direct and succinct, yet rich in technical details, ensuring fans and cinephiles appreciate the nuances of film adaptation and promotion.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • English Credit Sequence: Identical to French version but with English titles.
    • Alternate Scenes: Contains less explicit versions of certain scenes, intended for television audiences.
    • Jean Rollin Trailers: A collection of trailers that includes not only Zombie Lake in both English and French but also previews for Oasis of the Zombies, The Rape of the Vampire, and Demoniacs.

    Movie: 54

    Jean Rollin’s foray into the zombie genre with "Zombie Lake," under the pseudonym J.A. Laser, stands as an ambitious, albeit deeply flawed, chapter in a career otherwise celebrated for its erotic and atmospheric takes on vampire lore. Released in 1981 and now finding its way to Blu-ray thanks to Kino-Lorber and Redemption Films, the movie struggles to escape its low-budget trappings, revealing its limitations through scenes fraught with gratuitous nudity and laughable makeup effects that betray an undercurrent of absurdity rather than horror. Opening with a moment that encapsulates the film’s penchant for excess — a woman's extended nude swim in a lake that houses Nazi undead — Rollin sets a tone that oscillates between eerie surrealism and unintentional comedy, emblematic of the film's overall disjointed nature.

    Equally bizarre are the narrative elements "Zombie Lake" chooses to explore. Distinct for incorporating flashbacks to World War II, the storyline posits a lake cursed by the drownings of Nazi soldiers, whose resurrection leads to encounters that range from horrific to oddly sentimental — notably, a Nazi zombie recognizing his own child. This blend of grotesque horror with a melodramatic subplot typifies Rollin's struggle to merge his sensibilities with the zombie genre’s expectations. The insertion of a squad of female volleyball players for another exploitative skinny-dipping scene underscores the film’s reliance on titillation over coherent storytelling or effective horror.

    Technically, "Zombie Lake" is marred by its shoddy production values, from visibly amateurish makeup to instances where production equipment inadvertently becomes part of the scene. Yet, despite its myriad shortcomings, there’s something undeniably compelling about the film's earnest ineptitude and Rollin’s misplaced artistic ambition. For those with a penchant for cinema’s more forgettable footnotes, "Zombie Lake" offers a curiously amusing dive into the depths of low-budget horror, providing an odd charm in its bewildering execution and becoming a cult classic in the process. Its bizarre mix of horror, humor, and nudity captures a very specific moment in genre filmmaking, remembered more for its peculiarities than its prowess.

    Total: 56

    Zombie Lake" has long been held in the annals of cinematic history, not for being the zenith of horror cinema, but rather for its notoriety as a remarkably inept entry into the genre. A spectacle in the cinema of the absurd, it presents an opportunity for enthusiasts of the peculiar and the underwhelming to revel in its lackadaisical pursuit of terror. The Blu-ray edition, presented by Kino, unfortunately does little to elevate the film beyond its original, flawed composition. With a high-definition transfer that only serves to accentuate the film's amateurish special effects and make-up, the technical upgrade paradoxically enhances its camp appeal rather than redeem its myriad shortcomings.

    Echoing sentiments found among its peculiarly dedicated viewership, "Zombie Lake" delivers an unparalleled experience in what can generously be described as "so-bad-it's-good" filmmaking. The Blu-ray's video and audio presentation, surprisingly decent for a film notorious for its subpar production quality, offers an ironic contrast to its content. Still, it remains a product squarely aimed at collectors and aficionados of cine-trash. The added features, while not groundbreaking, provide just enough material to make it a worthwhile acquisition for horror completists or those with a penchant for cinema's more eccentric offerings.

    In conclusion, "Zombie Lake" on Blu-ray does little to escape its reputation as a substandard entry in the zombie genre but finds new life in its digital transformation. It stands as a testament to the enduring charm of cinema's less polished gems, providing a peculiar mix of entertainment through its very failures. It remains a must-have for connoisseurs of cult classics and bad cinema, promising an experience filled with unintended humor and bewildering moments that are best enjoyed with tempered expectations and perhaps a healthy sense of irony.