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Oasis of the Zombies

Director: Jesus Franco
Cast: Manuel Gelin, Doris Regina, Antonio Mayans
Running time: 85 minutes
Rating: Un-rated

Story: After learning of his father's death, a young man and his friends travel to the oasis where he was looking for treasure. But as the saying goes, everything has a price, and they'll find that the gold has been long guarded by walking dead.

Review: Known mostly for Vampire and Sexploitation movies, Jesus Franco made his one and only zombie movie in the early 80s. Said to be available in multiple versions, the US one is titled 'Oasis of the Zombies' and is one of the most hated of it's genre. I hate to admit it, but the only reason I bought it was because of the title. We'd seen zombies in jungles, malls, and rural America, but never in a desert oasis, so at the very least this was going to have a very different feel from others of this kind. I'd heard many negative comments from others who saw it, like 'boring,' and 'poorly lit,' so I wasn't exactly jumping up and down with excitement, but I shelled out the bucks for it so I figured I might as well give it a shot. To my surprise it was no where near as bad as I'd heard.

The film opens well with two pretty young women taking a stroll through the oasis of the title and meeting a gruesome end. It's actually a very chilling scene and I wish there were more moments in the film like it. Shot somewhere in Spain, though looking like the Sahara desert, the locations are quite nice to look at. The story, though not original, is an interesting take on the zombie genre. Most involve the dead rising because of voodoo or a chemical spill, but here it's simply because of treasure hunters invading their territory. The zombie make-up is pretty impressive for such a low budget project, unfortunately there's little to no gore, which I know will turn off a lot of zombie fans.

The actors won't win any awards for their performances, but they're really not bad and at least everyone seems like they wanted to be there. Though none match the opening sequence, there are other creepy moments and images scattered throughout the film. The score is simple, but very effective in giving goosebumps. Finally, the only thing is entertaining in a so-bad-it's-good kind of way. But of course the film is not without some faults.

As I said above, some think this movie is boring. The pace is slow at times, but the movie as a whole is actually pretty entertaining. The only time that it's really slow is during the long flashback. Some scenes towards the end really are poorly lit, but you can still get the gist of what's going on. Some may not like the fact that the zombies don't show up again until the second half. They make a brief appearance in the beginning and then we're introduced to the story and main characters, but the people aren't particularly interesting. Aside from seeing the living dead in a desert setting, there isn't much we haven't already seen. I won't spoil it, but be ready for anticlimactic ending. Could have been a set-up for a sequel, a lack of enough film to finish it, bad editing, or writing, etc.

I'm not gonna sugarcoat it, this isn't a great movie, but all things considered it's not that bad either. It doesn't have much re-watchability value, but if you're in the mood for something a little different in a zombie movie it's an ok way to spend an hour and a half.

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