Oasis of the Zombies
The ultimate horror lies within the wasteland.
Year of Release: 1982
Also Known As: La tumba de los muertos vivientes, The Treasure of the Living Dead, Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies, Oasis of the Living Dead
Running Time: 85 minutes (1:25)
Director: Jesus Franco
Manuel Gelin ... Robert Blabert
Eric Viellard ... Ronald
Caroline Audret ... Sylvie
France Lomay ... Erika
Miguel Angel Aristu ... Ahmed
Javier Maiza ... Captain Blabert
Eduardo Fajardo ... Colonel Kurt Meitzell
Lina Romay ... Kurt's Wife
Antonio Mayans ... Sheik Mohamed Al-Kafir
Albino Graziani ... Prof. Deniken
Jesus Franco ... Zombie
Robert Blabert, whose father was killed in World War II's African Campaign, is intrigued by tales that Rommel's treasure is hidden somewhere in the desert. He convinces several friends to join him on an expedition to find the gold. Kurt, a German war veteran, also seeks the treasure... but he finds a horde of terrifying zombie soldiers who have slept beneath the sands for forty years.
Meanwhile, Robert's party is joined by archaeologists Conrad and Erika. Together they find the dying Kurt, who warns them of the Oasis where the undead lurk. Ignoring Kurt's advice, the adventurers march on to the Oasis, only to find themselves among the unstoppable zombies who guard the hidden riches!
Oasis of the Zombies, remindin' us that you can lead a zombie to water, but it's still gonna stink. Incidentally, where the hell was the oasis in all this anyway? When the treasure hunters actually get to the goll durn "oasis" there's no water anywhere nearby. You got zombies crawlin' up outta the dunes like sand worms tryin' to eat Michael Keaton, an the place's dryer'n a popcorn fart. I guess they don't call 'em exploitation movies for nothin'.
An speakin' of demonic resurgences, the next time Skunky Hernandez wants somethin' bad enough to actually offer money for it - remind me to just bury whatever it is someplace he'll never look. Like his shower, for instance. I dunno how many of you remember the rabid mutant killer packrat that hitched a ride into town last huntin' season inside Cleave Furguson's deer carcass, the one that ate half the meat outta the chest cavity an mosta Clovis Skidman's thumb over at Furry Mountain Stuffing? Well, we ended up capturin' it an sellin' it to Skunky around Halloween so he could charge people $5 to have their picture taken with it at the Grime Time, but *afterwards*, come to find out the idiot just opened up the cage an let it loose. Now normally it wouldn'ta mattered, cause nasty as that thing was it was still no match for Skunky's nappy ole barn cat, Gnarl. Cept as mosta you already know, Gnarl went to the big yarn factory in the sky when the drive-in screen fell on 'im durin' construction. We've tried encouragin' folks to bring their dogs to the movies with 'em to keep the vermin down but they're just no substitute for Gnarl, an so the rodent problem's been gettin' steadily worse the last few months. Still, I don't think anybody coulda foreseen what happened this past weekend out at the Grime Time; straight outta Willard is what it was. I don't think I'll ever forget the look on Juanita's face when the first wave of rats struck the concession stand - it was that combination of horror an rage you normally only see on somebody when the cops kick their door in right after they finished scrubbin' all the boot scuffs off it. By the time I heard the screams an got down the projection booth steps she was wearin' a stainless steel strainer on 'er skull like Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters, holdin' a cast iron skillet in one hand an a BBQ fork in the other, an she was impalin' 'em left an right like Arnold the Barbarian in Conan an usin' the skillet like a tennis racket to periodically overhand smash the ones divin' down outta the ceiling into the deep fryer like Serena Williams. I sent Billy Hilliard in there to cover 'er backside while I ran to get Skunky, but that's when the second wave started climbin' up outta the outhouses an attacked our rear. Fannie Ogglesby, Marv Chintzley, an Dale Whelchel were in there at the time, an sustained extensive hinder chompage when the little boogers made their move, quickly overtakin' the utterly unprepared back row where all the window foggers tend to park, causin' permanent psychological trauma an premature orgasm.
Fortunately Tetnis was workin' the gate that night an took command of the situation; rallyin' the patrons to grab whatever they had in the trunks an beds of their rigs to fend off the attack. Folks made torches outta oily rags, swung tire irons, hatchets, an whatever else they had that'd never gotten put away after their last campin' trips - Buzz McCulloch'd been out cuttin' wood that day an grabbed his Jonsered outta the back of his truck an lead the charge, rainin' vermin destruction down on windshields four rows away in every direction an leavin' rodent slash piles on either side of the aisle as he went... til they eventually swarmed 'im an went scurryin' up his pant legs, bitin' an clawin' all the way. It was just about the bravest, stupidest thing I'd ever seen in my life, I don't mind tellin' ya. Took the rats completely by surprise an split their lines of defense down the middle an sent a quarter of 'em scurryin' for Skunky's barn to regroup. The rest we pushed back an drove into the pond where... good God it was *horrible*. The lucky ones just drowned when they discovered they couldn't swim, but most of 'em were EATEN ALIVE by the catfish Skunky had us stock a few weeks back. I TOLD him to feed 'em a cup of dog food every day, but surprise surprise - Skunky was too cheap to do it. Guess it kinda saved our bacon in a way, but *nothin'* should hafta die like that, not even Tipper Gore. As for the ones in the barn, well, by that point folks'd gotten just a little bit rowdy, an some of those torches I mentioned musta found their way into the dry grass runnin' around the perimeter, leavin' the little flea-circuses an Skunky's barn burned to a cinder. Final casualty count in Tetnis' makeshift medical tent was 13; just bites an scratches mostly, although he did hafta reattach a coupla toes, an Fannie Ogglesby hadda be flown to Boise for reconstructive hinder surgery. After that we went ahead an restarted the first feature (Single Room Furnished) an Juanita gave away free cornrats to anybody who'd eat 'em (not exactly her best work, but the price was right). Once everything was calmed back down Billy an I went back up to the projection deck an started watchin' the flick again, but when I reached my hand into the Doritos bag I pulled out a big handful of rat pellets... which was so gross that I hadda accidentally dump the whole bag into the bed of Mark Skidman's '68 International. After that I was just kinda sittin' there starin' at my hand the way you do when it's filthy but you've got no place to wash it, when all the sudden we hear this gravelly little rodent cackle from up on the roof an whirl around just in time to see a Food of the Gods sized rodent rear limp into the darkness. I didn't see its mangy face, but I know it was that same sumbitch that stowed away in Cleave's deer carcass, an somethin' about that noise he made told me we hadn't seen the last of 'im.
Sometimes it seems like even the forces of nature're out to make your life a livin' hell, but I'll tell ya somethin' - it's gonna take more'n a horde of mutant rats to ruin a Saturday night at the drive-in. We don't negotiate with terrorists an we don't take no prisoners neither. Course, about 20 minutes into the second feature we all started *feelin'* like prisoners, but that's neither here nor there. Normally I'd never rag on a zombie movie, but good GRIEF is this thing slow. We're talkin' a pot boiler where the writer forgot to add the water to the pot, an so about all that happens is the dried macaroni noodles under the oven burner catch fire an fill the set with smoke while the teflon starts peelin' an fills the air with toxic fumes. That don't mean we can't learn nothin' from it though, an since this's the kinda flick where the educational section of the review is of the utmost importance (due to the fact that there oughta be warnins on the VHS about its tendency to cause drowsiness like a box of cinematic Sudafed), it'd be in your best interests to stay alert for at least 15 more seconds to absorb what I'm about to pass on. First, women'll go so ga-ga over any guy who'll sketch their portrait that they'll sleep with 'im even if he paints 'em with a lazy eye. Second, diggin' for Nazi plunder with a garden hoe is tough, thankless work. An third, an Arab woman can always protest the burka by goin' commando an no one'll ever be the wiser.
But I'd like to get serious here for a minute, cause I've had it with all the folks trashin' Jess Franco as just another sleazy, "anything for a buck" exploitation director constantly lookin' for a new taboo with which to violate the impressionable young psyches of the under class an disrupt social order. You'll recognize these people by the presence of a "crucifixion of Jesus" hood ornament, or by that Ginsu salesman-esque smile that shows off their 48 teeth, but I'm here to tell ya - it's THEM who's incapable of seein' the deeper philosophical meanin' behind Jess's flicks. The reason for this is simple; they don't WANT to see the truth, cause it just might remind 'em about the inate evil lurkin' within' all of us. Seriously, think about it - while we were sendin' women into the JC Penney dressin' room with The Club attached to their panties to protect 'em from the skulking, depraved lesbians lurkin' in the shadows, Jess was off filmin' Vampyros Lesbos, the definitive film of our generation that proved it was perfectly normal AND acceptable to be a vampire and/or clam dabbler. Ya see? Jess was a very conscientious artist, an a guy who wasn't afraid to go places other guys refused to go cause it made people *uncomfortable*. Same kinda deal with Oasis; it was simply Jess's way of remindin' us that the vilest of human tendencies lie buried just below the surface (in his vision this surface is literal, but the metaphor remains congruent), an that without eternal vigilance said evils just might rise anew to consume us. It's not like he was alone in this social commentary either, I mean, how many flicks have there been that featured Nazi zombies? Night of the Zombies (1981), Zombie Lake (1981), Shock Waves (1977), Dead Snow (2009), Outpost (2008), and the granddaddy of 'em all: Revenge of the Zombies (1943), just to name a few. Now, are we really to believe that all these filmmakers used this idea *just* to put butts in the theater seats? I find that idea just a tad cynical, and more to the point: insulting. These guys coulda made movies about cold war propaganda or juvenile delinquency like everyone else, but they wanted to do something *meaningful*. An for this they're ridiculed an shamed as culturally insensitive sleaze merchants. It really is pitiful the way some people can't see a flick's inner beauty an philosophical sentiments, an instead, choose to twist the narrative into somethin' disgusting. Kinda makes ya ashamed to be a human bein', ya know?
The movie begins with these two lesbyterians drivin' through the jungle who decide to pull over an head on down to the Paradise City where the ass is lean an the girls lick clitty, only while they're walkin' along they can't help but notice that the area has more antique Nazi memorabilia than Steve Bannon's livin' room an pretty quick the camera zooms in on their butts while they're exchangin' dialogue, signalin' that they aren't long for this world, an sure enough up come the zombies an down the hatch go the ladies. Meanwhile, back in the world of indoor plumbin', a couple (Kurt an Ingrid) is pullin' up to the home of a British WWII veteran (Captain Blabert) where the guy heads inside to discuss the last known whereabouts of some German loot that went missin' when their convoy got massacred by an ambush that they did Nazi coming. Kurt was plannin' on headin' down to Africa on account of his missin' the rains down there anyway, but he also wants to know precisely where the attack occurred so he can take a little side trip to search for the missin' Bavarian bling, only when Blabert points out the spot on the map he learns the hard way that you can't spell Kraut without Kurt, an Blabert ends up gettin' stuck in the paw with a syringe fulla death sauce. A few days later, Blabert's son (Robert) gets a telegram detailin' the demise of his pop at the hands of a spiked flu booster an ends up readin' the old guy's journal, which details a hellacious firefight his platoon got into with a buncha Germans down in Africa where Blabert was the only survivor, an ended up wanderin' the desert like a gut-shot Israelite until a convoy of Arabs found 'im an lugged his ass back to Cairo General. They eventually nursed 'im back to health, only one of the nurses got smitten with 'im an ended up takin' 'im out into the desert to show 'im the burnin' bush she had stashed under 'er burka. Once he's fully recuperated he decides it's time to abandon 'er foxhole an get back to kickin' Axis, only after the war ends an he returns to do right by 'er, the sheik (the girl's dad) hasta tell 'im that she died tryin' to squeeze his coconut-headed pasty white bastard child out of 'er loins. Suddenly Robert's olive skin tone makes a hell of a lot more sense, an he's convinced that Blabert woulda wanted 'im to have the accrued interest from the SS savings an loan, so he talks three friends (Sylvie, Ronald, an Ahmed) into headin' down to Africa with 'im to help find the jewels of the vile. But while that's goin' on, Kurt, Ingrid, an a coupla hired hands're already down in turban country lookin' for the stash, an it ain't too long before the two grunts go off on their own to do some diggin' an unearth a buncha zombies with immaculately groomed hair who proceed to tear into 'em like fat bridesmaids hittin' the dessert tray at a wedding reception.
That's real bad news, cause these're like insomniac zombies who, once they're up, there's no goin' back to the grave for awhile, an it doesn't take 'em long to find the camp an wrestle Ingrid out of 'er blouse an start munchin' on 'er tittle vittles while Kurt heroically drives off in the Jeep an ends up stoppin' to work on that psychological breakdown he's been meanin' to have. Elsewhere, Rob an the gang've reached Africa an gone over to the Tripoli flea market, but end up gettin' kicked out when Sylvie's uncovered toes start givin' all the teenage boys hardons. No monkey's paw, no magical lamps, nada. Just a buncha guys with beards who look like they all moved down there from Portland sellin' "authentic" Saharan Desert hourglasses an jackal skin purses as far as the eye can see; major disappointment. Then they head over to this mosque where the head Muslim guy's standin' up on the roof givin' the touchdown hand signal an all his subjects down below're praisin' Allah cause they've got 100 dinar ridin' on the outcome of the Sphinxes vs. Prophets game goin' on across the street or somethin'. I dunno exactly what they're doin', but they seem happy. Then they meet up with these documentary film nerds who're shootin' a PBS special on the history of the fez (Professor Deniken, Francis, John, an Erika) an decide to go check out the local "sick man" attraction which turns out to be Kurt (who by this point looks like Tom Atkins after refusin' to leave his United Airlines seat peacefully), an before long he starts ravin' like a constipated mandrill in heat until he finally succumbs to the effects of the deep vein zombosis. That's the technical term, of course, around here we just call it "disintegratin' face syndrome." None of the locals seem to think this's all that unusual, although they do give Kurt a viking funeral after explainin' to the foreigners that they hafta do it cause if they don't he'll eventually sit up an expect 'em to set a place for 'im at the supper table. Apparently roasted German smells pretty good too, cause the whole town turns out to catch a whiff of the Arabian barbecue like a buncha kids hangin' out across the street from a Dunkin' Donuts kitchen fire. Then Rob's crew goes to visit the sheik who feels sorry for 'em on account of havin' to grow up infidels, an so he points 'em in the direction of the oasis an tells 'em not to give rides to any decayin' hitchhikers with swastikas stitched onto their uniforms. Cept when they get there they find the professor's truck (his group'd gone on ahead) gestopped on the side of the road, an when they finally find everybody they're all layin' face down in the sand pretendin' to be camel dook cause after they unloaded the truck they were attacked by a buncha Hamburgian helpers with leprosy. Then they set up camp an Ronald convinces Erika that Arabian Nights are hotter than hot in a lot of good ways over in his tent, an so they go pound sand while we're forced to look at Ron's bacne. Fortunately that's right about the time the zombies finally get their rotten butts in gear an begin to slowly advance on the camp, which is where we'll leave 'em since there's only about five minutes left in the movie. Public domain though, so here's a link.
Well... yeah, I probably don't even need to say it. The fact that *I* was able to squeeze an 85 minute movie summary into two paragraphs probably tells you everything you need to know about the film's technical merits. I'm not gonna lie to you, we're pretty much talkin' Indiana Groans in the Temple of Dune. Quite possibly the worst zombie movie ever made, although the people who're psychologically damaged enough to really debate these kinds of things would be quick to point out its Nazi zombie counterpart of the same year, Zombie Lake. The IMDB ratings are 2.5 and 3.0, respectively, and I think what really separates the "quality" (for want of a better term) of the two is the fact that Oasis was evidently not worth the licensing fees required to keep it out of the public domain. So if you really want to seriously get into which one is worse, that's something you'll want to factor into your argument. I think what really damns it beyond redemption is just how much padding there is and how little screen time the zombies get, cause there's no doubt in my mind that you could cut 20 minutes from this thing and lose absolutely nothing in the way of coherency. And while I wasn't holding a stop watch, I'd estimate that there's a total of *maybe* nine minutes of zombie action. The title's already a dirty lie on the basis that, as far as I could see, there was no oasis (at least not in the area occupied by the zombies), but there's barely even any zombies on top of it. It's not even all that sleazy, which is pretty much a hallmark of every Jess Franco movie in the history of the universe. Matter of fact, if you were to remove the scene where the zombies de-blouse Lina Romay and pretend to chew on 'er, this thing coulda gotten a PG-13 rating. I mean, if you could actually get a censorship board to look at a Franco movie, that is. Normally I wouldn't nitpick logistical/reasoning problems when it comes to a horror flick, but the sheer number of asinine decisions and continuity issues laid bare in this movie are astounding. Just to name a few: you've got the pristine abandoned Nazi paraphernalia layin' all over the oasis (the board with the swastika on it is literally shown three times in the opening scene, just in case we missed it the first two times), the flawless zombie hairstyling, the crosses prominently displayed in what's supposed to be a Middle Eastern country (the movie was actually filmed in Spain, which is why they crop up continuously), the ex-Nazi commander who not only survived the war, but also escaped justice AND knew the name of the Brit whose platoon ambushed his troops, thus enabling him to locate him and acquire the location of the treasure (that is to say nothing of the fact that he knew the name of the guy who ambushed his troops, but not where his troops WERE when it happened), and the fact that the Brit was willing to wheel and deal with the ex-Nazi and split the treasure (before being double crossed and killed). Oh, and spoilers - during the final attack, the survivors utilize all their gasoline to fight the zombies when they're in the middle of the desert and 100 miles from the nearest city. Now, I don't wanna say the script was a little lazy, but there're conspiracy theories on Infowars that make more sense than this movie, it's pitiful.
Okay, now having said that, we're gonna look at each aspect of this alleged movie and we're gonna be completely objective. There'll be no retaliation for bein' forced to look at that gigantic zit on Eric Viellard's shoulder while he's makin' the sign of the velcro-chested crag Fraggle with that porn star, or for havin' been exposed to a buncha Spaniards playin' everything from Brits to Germans to Arabs. Now, with that in mind, the plot gets a perfect zero for its "logic be damned" approach to filmmaking. It's not any one *big* problem that does it, as is the case with, say, Jaws: The Revenge; rather, we're talkin' death by 1000 cuts, even though there might actually be more than 1000 if you wanna try countin' 'em for posterity. The acting is, of course, not easy to judge because everything's dubbed from Spanish into English, but I will say that the energy level from most everyone involved is pretty low (except for the WWII firefight flashback, that's actually pretty lively, if hilariously choreographed). You'd also think that with all the padding at least *some* of it might have been dedicated to fleshing out the characters and their backstories/personalities, but no such attempt is made on the basis that it was more important to drag each and every travel sequence out until you've just about forgotten where the characters are going and why they're going there. I also liked how they decided to heap on more characters when the ones they already had were so poorly defined that it was hard to keep them straight; by all means, keep pilin' 'em on guys, that'll help with the coherency issues!
Here's who matters and why (less Jess Franco, who did cameos in a ton of his flicks, including this one): Eduardo Fajardo (The Brother from Space, Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, The Exterminators of the Year 3000, Hundra, Nightmare City, Espectra, The House of Exorcism, Cross of the Devil, Evil Eye, Lisa and the Devil, Maniac Mansion, Os Cinco Avisos de Satanas, El perfil de Satans), Lina Romay (Snakewoman, Killer Barbys vs. Dracula, Incubus 2002, Vampire Junction, Helter Skelter 2000, Karate a muerte en Torremolinos, Dr. Wong's Virtual Hell, Vampire Blues, Lust for Frankenstein, Mari-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula, Tender Flesh, Faceless, Alone Against Terror, El siniestro doctor Orloff, Revenge in the House of Usher, Mansion of the Living Dead, White Cannibal Queen, El sadico de Notre-Dame, Female Vampire, Lorna the Exorcist, The Perverse Countess, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff), Antonio Mayans (Revenge in the House of Usher, Vampyres, Wax 2014, Help Me I am Dead, Empusa, Snakewoman, Commando Mengele, Alone Against Terror, El siniestro doctor Orloff, Blood on My Shoes, Mansion of the Living Dead, Zombie Lake, Nightmare City, Devil Hunter, Cannibal Terror, White Cannibal Queen, The House by the Edge of the Lake, The Dead the Devil and the Flesh, Huncback of the Morgue), Albino Graziani (Mansion of the Living Dead), Henri Lambert (Maniac Killer), Daniel Katz (Rest in Pieces, Blood on My Shoes), Juan Solar (El sinestro doctor Orloff, Blood on My Shoes).
The special effects range from shit to crap, with the better ones representing the really old dried up stuff that you can step in and still produce some smell, but that's at least been in the sun long enough that it won't stick to your shoes. Basically it's just the zombies (with a few small cuts on living victims thrown in), and they're pretty sorry excuses for zombies when compared to anything from a Romero or Fulci film. Some of them just look like guys who fell asleep in the sand, while others look like somebody attached a skin graft over some lawn clippings. One zombie's not even a person in makeup, rather, it's a styrofoam head with gore applied, and it's *really* obvious. There're also scenes where the zombies are rising from the sand in which you can only see their hands at first, and the camera zooms right up on them without a care in the world for the fact that there's nothing in the way of decay or *anything* to suggest this hand belongs to a zombie. So don't expect the special effects department to pick up any of the slack, in this, the most important category for any zombie movie. The shooting locations aren't bad, if you can get past the fact that this is obviously not anywhere within the Middle East. I really couldn't get past that, given how much was made about the WWII timeline and the fact that it was supposed to be on the African continent. The film was actually shot on the Canary Islands in Spain, and although there are at least some sequences that mimic the Sahara reasonably well, most of it doesn't, and it's kind of a problem. It'd be different if they hadn't made such a big deal about where the events of the movie were taking place, but when you go to the trouble of mapping it out, there needs to be at least a close approximation, and there isn't. The soundtrack is probably the best element, by virtue of the fact that it isn't a complete clusterfuck. A lot of stereotypical Americanized versions of what we think harem music is supposed to sound like, and some borderline obnoxious stuff that's essentially a single tone that sounds as though the soundtrack's skipping and stuck on vibrate. There're also some really weird sound *effects*, including one that plays whenever the zombies begin emerging from the sand that sounds like a shark pole with way too much tension on it. Really don't know what they were going for there, but I'm pretty sure it didn't work. Overall, Oasis of the Zombies is a really bad, boring flick. There's nothing "so bad it's good" about it, it's just terrible. An absolute failure in every technical regard, and in its attempts to entertain the audience, so don't bother with this one unless you're a hopeless zombie junkie who feels they must see every living dead film ever made.