Zombie Lake (or Zombies’ Lake), known in the original French as Le lac des morts vivants (English: “The Lake of the Living Dead”), is a 1981 zombie horror film directed by Jean Rollin (under the name J.A. Laser). The film is considered Rollin’s worst film ever. Apparently, Rollin felt so embarrassed by the film he had not admitted for years he directed it under his alternative name J.A. Laser.
In a small lakeside hamlet in the verdant of French countryside, young women are disappearing without a trace. The superstitious locals blame “The Lake of Ghosts”, because of the lake’s haunting past, but the town’s mayor (Howard Vernon) seems reluctant, or powerless to take any action. When another woman is found dead near the lake, with her throat ripped out, a Paris reporter comes to town and soon discovers that the lake harbours a terrible secret dating back to World War II. It is then a group of local Resistance fighters take action against a troop of Nazi soldiers invading their town, as they have come back from the dead. And now, whenever the waters at “The Lake of Ghosts” are disturbed, the dead will rise. One in particular has unfinished business with a family in the town, related to an unresolved affair of the heart,
Le Lac de Morts Vivants, better known by its international title Zombie Lake, was part of the Eurociné era of the seventies and eighties, it was infamous and considered as Jean Rollin’s worst film. Jess Franco is reported to have abandoned the project just before filming began. He is nonetheless credited for the script, which is supposedly based on a story by Julián Esteban. Accordingly, Jean Rollin was brought in at the last minute to replace Franco, and had only two weeks to bring the film together The film is set and based in 1957, although the style looks to be of the late seventies.
The film has been reviewed on many online sites. Popcorn Pictures has said “the lure of constant nudity is definitely not enough to make anyone watch Zombie Lake. Quite simple one of the worst zombie films of all time, one of the worst horror films of all time, and one of the worst films of all time”. Obscure horror has said “the story is very weak and the make-up & effects are terrible”. Stalk ‘n’ slash has said “no true horror fan should deprive themselves of the hilarity of this film, you need to see it first hand to truly appreciate just how ridiculous it is”. From the Mind of Tatlock has said “You may get a laugh here and there and you may have a good time, or you could spontaneously combust. It’s hard to say, but I’m thinking you’ll have a hell of time getting through this cinematic waste of space.