12 September, 2008
HE WROTE IT!
I'll just go and make my own Nazi-zombies film!
"Hell no, not on THAT budget!"
On the set of ZOMBIE LAKE everyone is wondering, "Where the hell is Jess?"
Uncle Jess has finally come clean, revealing that he did indeed write the original script for the 1980 Eurocine Zombie co production, EL LAGO DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTES aka ZOMBIE LAKE. Franco's exact involvement has been a question mark for some time and he is not credited on the film itself. Franco appears in a surprise 6m "Easter Egg" on the new Severin CANNIBAL TERROR DVD [it can be accessed but toggling up to CANNIBAL TERROR on the main menu]. While fiddling with an unlit cigarette (light it up, Jess!) our favorite director states that he wrote the script and was set to direct but withdrew because he considered the budget to be too low[!]. Jess Franco refusing to direct a Z grade zombie film?! The budget must have been very, very, very, very low indeed. Even Jess Franco has his limits.
The first place I had heard of Jess' possible involvement was in Phil Hardy's often spurious Horror Encyclopedia and an article on Franco by Tim Lucas in an early VW issue. I also seem to remember Franco discussing this in a late 1980's issue of FANGORIA. But this is the first time of which I'm aware of Franco himself confirming that information.
ZOMBIE LAKE does seem to have some plot similarities to Franco's own LA TUMBA DE LOS MUERTOS VIVIENTES (1981) and his earlier EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF (1964). Jean Rollin also told me in an unpublished interview I conducted with him in 1990 that Franco didn't show up for the first day of shooting and he was called in on very short notice. "This is not my film," he said. I don't think he was too happy with the result, but it sure has entertained many Z movie fans over the years.
Franco also discusses Alain Deruelle, the French porn specialist who directed CANNIBAL TERROR and some other obscure Eurocine productions in the short, but fascinating interview. Check out my review of Severin's new CANNIBAL TERROR DVD presentation on my CINEMADROME site by clicking on the link at the top of the sidebar on the left.