13 March, 2007

Jess Franco makes IMBD Bottom 100 list...


For a film which he provided the original story and was set to direct before French Erotic-Vampire-Movie specialist Jean Rollin was called in to helm when Jess didn't show on the first day of shooting. Yes, it's the immortal ZOMBIE LAKE [LE LAC DES MORTS VIVANTS] the 1980 Nazi-Zombie stomp which is so bad that it's... well, not good but kinda fun.

The IMBD poll places it at #98 out of 100. These are the worst films of all time according the the IMBD reader's poll. They also have a top 250 list which places THE GODFATHER at #1.

BTW, I noticed in my last screening of this that film historian, Jess Franco actor {MIDNIGHT PARTY, TENDER FLESH), screenwriter (PLAISIR A TROIS) and author of the essential Franco study THE MANACOA FILES Alain Petit can be glimpsed at the film's climax as an angry villager who is standing next to the guy who is turning the flame thrower on the zombies.

Other Eurogenre/cult films in the bottom 100 listing include the Joe D'Amato produced TROLL 2 (a personal favorite) while D'Amato's ATOR THE INVINCIBLE 2 is #100.

Interesting that Franco's name is listed in the IMBD writing credits for the film but not on the film itself. Maybe Eurocine was mad at him for not showing up at the last minute!

(c) Robert Monell, 2007

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who does Antonio Mayans play in this?

Robert Monell said...

Mayans plays the first zombie you see in the film who attacks the female swimmer right after the opening credits. He also plays the Nazi officer who commands the patrol where the "good" Nazi is wounded in the WW2 flashbacks.

Douglas A. Waltz said...

Robert,
Do you, by any chance, know the name of the stunning woman at the very beginning of the film?

Robert Monell said...

No, I wish I did! I assume she's a French actress. I've never seen her in anything else.

Curt Fujyda said...

Greetings Robert,

I've been enjoying your Franco blog and its insightful articles.

You and I know that Jess Franco's career is filled with ambiguities and contradictions. His involvement with "Zombie Lake" is one more mythological item.

From 1997 to 2000, I did a series of interviews with Daniel and Marius Lesoeur. Excerpts appeared in an issue of Video Watchdog.

According to Daniel, Jess was never involved with "Zombie Lake."

Here's a transcript from my April 1997 interview with Daniel:

Curt Fukuda: I'd like to ask about some movies that are well known in the United States. Le Lac des Mort-Vivantes. In some articles, it's said that Jean Rollin directed the movie, that he took it over from Jess Franco, who supposedly didn't show up.

Daniel Lesoeur: No. Jess was never involved with the film. Never. It was a Spanish director, Julian de Laserna, also known as Lazer. And not "Lesoeur" either—Lazer. (laughs) He was involved because this was a co-production with a company in Spain. And Jean Rollin came often and worked with him and with us. So, when Lazer was obliged to go back to Spain, Jean Rollin took over. But it was never a question of Jess Franco not showing up.

CF: But, didn't Jean Rollin have to take over the entire film at the last moment?

DL: Not, it was only part-time.

CF: Do you think the Franco connection is because the film was begun with a Spanish director?

DL: It's possible the confusion comes from the fact that the movie was a co-production between Spain and France. In the credits, we had Spanish sounding names to satisfy the Spanish distributors, and French sounding names to satisfy the French distributors. People know that Jess often uses different names, and we had been making films with Jess just before and just after "Le Lac des Mort-Vivants. So that is possibly the reason why many people believe that Jess was involved.

CF: So the Spanish director (Lazer) had to go back to Spain?

DL: Yes, he had something come up, so he left for Spain. He was living in Paris, so Jean took over until Lazer was able to com back.

CF: So Jean just filmed some of the scenes?

DL: Yes, and he's even acting in the movie. (laughs) I don't know if you know it, but he's in the movie. When you see the movie again, look for him. He's the newspaper man making an inquest on the disappearance of some women in the town.

Hope you enjoyed reading Daniel's comments and I hope this clears up one Jess Franco myth.

All the best,
Curt

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for your positive comments and the interview quotes Curt, and welcome to the blog. I tend to think that DL is correct in speaking about the confusion. I did ask Jean Rollin himself about this film during a 1990 interview I did with him. He stated that Franco was set to direct but "wasn't there" on the first day so he was called in. Now, he may be confusing Franco with the other Spanish director who was called away. Franco, curiously enough, stated in a 19980s era interview (I think in FANGORIA) that he had planned to shoot the film and wanted to set in near a lake in Switzerland but that was nixed by Eurocine and he then quit the project when the budget was lowered. Perhaps he just discussed it with Eurocine at an early stage and never became directly involved. There do seem to be some elements from Franco's EL SECRETO DEL DR ORLOFF in the script re the girl and her zombie father, but that may be coincidental or perhaps the actual writers borrowed it. Yes, there are many contradictions in the tales surrounding these Eurocine films and Franco's films.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that you can see a studio light in the shot that follows Howard Vernon and that annoying reporter woman into his study?

Robert Monell said...

I'll have to look for that the next time. One of the reasons this is fun is that there are so many gaffes. The excellent quality on the DVD makes it easier to spot them.

Anonymous said...

For a minute, I was going to mention this might have been the ONE TIME Franco showed some restraint and avoided showing up for a good reason.. :)

-s

Robert Monell said...

As we know, Franco did make his own Nazi Zombie epic with OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES. The Spanish version LA TUMBA DE LA MUERTOS VIVIENTES is markedly superior to both OASIS and ZL in terms of photography, music, acting and direction. It's on Spanish DVD, I believe. I hope it shows up here in the US to be compared to the OASIS version out from IMAGE.

Anonymous said...

"The Spanish version LA TUMBA DE LA MUERTOS VIVIENTES is markedly superior to both OASIS and ZL in terms of photography, music, acting and direction. It's on Spanish DVD, I believe."

Only some of the footage is different in LA TUMBA. Eduardo Fajardo and Lina Romay replace Henri Lambert and the other woman. There's actually some guts in Lina's death scene. There is blue tinting on the rephotographed scenes (and the surrounding scenes) at the beginning after the credits to make the first scene seem as though its taking place at night. The opening credits afford an early view of one of the zombies (probably taken from elsewhere in the film).

Only the replacement photography is by Juan Solar. The original French scenes are shot by Max Monteillet (whom Jean Rollin apparently did not think highly of during LA MORTE VIVANTE) though he is not credited on the Spanish version. The Spanish score is by Daniel White and Jess Franco under the Pablo Villa credit (Daniel White's score in the French print sounds mostly like library music for the African setting).

The Divisa DVD is letterboxed at around 1.85:1 and seems to be a new transfer (or at least they slapped a new matte on the print - a review of the older Cine de Terror tape said that the aspect ratio switched from scene to scene which suggests the original was shot open matte and the Spanish footage was shot hard matted.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice the zombie without pants attacking a naked girl in the trailer? Was there an alternate cut of the film or did they just not use that footage because they already didn't have enough green make-up to paint below the sleeves and collars of the zombie's uniforms?

Robert Monell said...

I never noticed this blue tinting on LA TUMBA... but I've only got it on a poor VHS dub. I'd like to get the Spanish Divisa DVD. The "Pablo Villa" library cues are more to my liking than the Daniel White cues used in OASIS, the ones use there are just medicore, where I really think the ones in LA TUMBA are more atmospheric and appropriate, some of them can be heard in MACUMBA SEXUAL. You can tell the scenes shot by Juan Soler Cozar because he is a good DP where the French guy is only mediocre. OASIS is just a bad, stupid, boring movie, LA TUMBA is a definite improvement because of the elements Franco added. I think that Marius Lesoeur directed the OASIS version. Can anyone confirm that? I'll be doing a future blog on him soon...

Robert Monell said...

On the versions of ZL: there are altenated "covered" scenes on the DVD indicating that there may have been a covered version for certain territories. I've never seen it, though.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm rojoprofundo. I read in a Franco interview that he said that A. M. Frank is a seudonimous of Lesoeur and as I remember (not very sure) A.M.Frank is credited in Oasis.... He was talking about Une cage dorée, film he never shot.

Robert Monell said...

Welcome to the Franco blog, rojoprofundo. Yeah, that was Marius Lesoeur's cover and that is the director's credit on OASIS, but they added "Jess Franco" on the Image DVD. I'vw heard that Franco may have shot some scenes in UNE CAGE DOREE, but I'm not sure which ones. I'll ask Alain Petit about it.

Robert Monell said...

In fact, I'd like to see UNE CAGE... those Eurocine composites or whatever are a guilty pleasure!

Uwe Huber said...

Well, the problem with Eurocine's pseudos is that they are used for different persons, e.g. James Gardner (it's sometimes Franco, sometimes Alain Payet etc.) or Claude Plaut (which is usually Olivier Mathot, but also the credited director of Franco's CECILIA).

Robert Monell said...

Yes, Claude Plaut is credited as the director of DIAMONDS OF KILAMANDJARO, I noticed. That doesn't even look like a Franco film, and Mathot's in it.

Lucas said...

imbd... never heard, do you mean imdb as in "International Movies Data Base"?...
The problem with Eurocine pseudonyms is that they are not always used for the same director. Eurocine generally use pseudonyms when they re-edit the films with whatever they want.