Oasis of the Zombies (1982) – By Duane L. Martin

Two hot girls arrive at the Douar el Ousour oasis while traveling around in a jeep. They decide to get out to explore a little, and while exploring, they discover the wreckage of a bunch of Nazi vehicles and weapons that were left over from a battle during the war. The film is called Oasis of the Zombies, so I’ll bet you can guess what happened next. Yep, they ended up dead. Unfortunately the only real sign of any zombies we get to see are a pair of hands that come up out of the sand and grab one of the girls by the legs. This is the intro scene of the film.

Basically, the story goes that this caravan of Nazis were transporting millions in gold when they were attacked at the oasis. The gold was buried there after the battle, and no one’s been able to discover it since. Only one or two men even knew of its existence in the oasis. One was a man named Kurt, who was there when the battle took place. Unfortunately for him, another man kills him after getting the information about the gold early in the film. In his effects however, his son discovers the account of the battle and the gold, and he and his college friends go hunting after it as well. You can guess what happened for the most part there as well.

Oasis of the Zombies is writer and director Jess Franco’s attempt at making a zombie film. It has three things in common with Jean Rollin’s attempt at a zombie film, Zombie Lake, also reviewed in this issue. First, it was made by someone who had no business getting anywhere near a zombie film, because they really had no clue how to make a good one. Second, they both share the same producer – Marius Lesouer. Lastly, they both suck…real bad. Why does this one suck? Well…

Remember those zombie arms that came up out of the ground and grabbed one of those girls in the intro scene? Well, that was about all you got to see of any zombies until literally 36 minutes into the film. I know, because I kept bitching about it in the notes I was taking for the review. At 25 minutes I was getting annoyed at the lack of zombies. By 33 minutes I was getting really annoyed. Finally at 36 minutes we get our first zombie, which looked like it had a coconut head with a Moe Howard haircut. Seriously, it was horrible. In fact, all of the zombies in this movie are horrible. Even the one that’s little more than a skeleton with eyeballs is horrible, though I’ll admit, at least it was somewhat amusing.

Many of the zombies had make up that literally looked like paper mache was applied to their faces and allowed to basically flake apart. Others looked more like latex. Pretty much all were just really low budget, horrible attempts at making zombies.

Then there’s the symbolism. How many times do we have to see a shot of a spider sitting in the middle of a web in the oasis? Too damn many. We get it, the oasis is like a big web and the people that go in there are the flies to the zombie spiders. That’s real deep…the first time you see it. Then you see it again, and again, and again. It’s like, ok, we got it, move on already.

The characters in this film range from brainless to clueless. There’s only one character that’s even remotely kind of cool, and that’s the father of the girl Kurt fell in love and had a baby with. He had taken kurt in after he was wounded in the battle with the Nazis, and that’s when Kurt met the guy’s daughter and they fell in love. Even when Kurt’s son comes there with his friends and meets his grandfather however, the guy doesn’t even help them really. He goes half way to the oasis with them, and then lets them go the rest of the way on their own. At the end, he’s wandering around in the desert on his camel trying to find out what happened to them all. I would have thought he’d have tried a little harder to have stopped them from going there in the first place since he seemed to know full well what was in that oasis.

Oh and did I mention the pointless sex scenes? No? Well, that’s because they were pointless, and simply existed to eat up screen time. How about the totally unrealistic character reactions, like the girl whose documentary crew all got killed by the zombies, yet she managed to get saved by one of the college kids and ended up having sex with him that night like nothing even happened.

I’m sorry, like I said in my Zombie Lake review, I don’t want to be snarky here, but when two films are this bad, I’m not sure how to talk about them in any other way. They’re just horrible and utterly boring. I will say this however. This one was better than Zombie Lake. Not by much, but it was. At least the timeline in this one was a little more accurate, though the people that were around during the Nazi times didn’t seem to have aged anywhere near as much as they should have.

Like Zombie Lake, this release has awesome cover art. I only wish the film had been one millionth as cool as the artwork on the cover.

For special features, this release contains the following:

Newly remastered in HD from the archival negatives.
French with optional English subtitles.
English dubbed version.
Original theatrical trailer.
Original trailers for other Jess Franco films available from Redemption.

While it’s better than Zombie Lake, it’s still really just not good. It might be ok to watch for a goof once with some friends, but that’s about it. There are a laundry list of better zombie films out there, so my recommendation is to check out one of those instead if you’re in the mood for some zombie action.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out it’s page on the Kino Lorber website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the DVD or blu-ray releases from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.