Oasis of the Zombies (1981)

Oasis of the Zombies (1981)

A group of students searching for treasure buried by the German army in the African desert during WWII comes up against an army of Nazi zombies guarding the fortune.


Not content with letting fellow exploitation director Jean Rollin butcher the Nazi zombie sub-genre with the abomination that was Zombie Lake, Jesus Franco (who wrote Zombie Lake) took his turn in the director’s seat with Oasis of the Zombies. It’s hard to say which film is worse as not only are both films absolutely terrible zombie films, they may even border on being some of the worst films ever made. Seriously, how hard is it for people to make a decent Nazi zombie film? Unlike other zombie films where loving friends and family are turned into flesh-ripping ghouls, Nazi zombies were evil and sadistic before they were dead. There’s something unnerving about the thought of the most evil people to have ever lived to be immortalized in zombie form, forever to walk the Earth looking for flesh. We thought we were rid of them but they’re back and unstoppable! Maybe even the likes of Jesus Franco and Jean Rollin have been too afraid to tap into this unholy combination for fear of the backlash that they may receive. Whatever is the case, Oasis of the Zombies is hardly going to offend anyone except for lovers of trashy films like myself.

Even worse is that Franco doesn’t even live up to his usual exploitative ways here. There’s little in the way of gratuitous nudity, a lack of any sort of sleaze and perversion of any kind and a total lack of pushing any sort of boundaries which at least his Euro-horrors do (and have been banned for). It’s almost as if Franco is clueless when it comes to proper horror films. Without the writhing orgies of women undressing before him, he’s pretty much a lame duck. Oasis of the Zombies has nothing good going for it except for the fact that the zombies like to pull people into the sand every now and then ala Tremors. But even when people are being pulled under, you can see the man-made hole they are falling into with sand-coloured plastic bin-liners lining the pit. It’s a really bad effect especially when the camera gets so close and can see the bin-liner being ruffled. Incompetence at it’s best. But it’s incompetent across the board.

The film lacks any sort of budget as is evident with the cheapness of everything and total lack of production values. The ‘actors’ look like they were simply some of the crew who chipped in with lines. The sound quality is really bad. Not only are there countless scenes with no sound at all (literally people just walking in silence) but there’s also a terrible piano track that plays up every now and then which is reminiscent of some sleazy porn film.

The zombies do look a lot better than those of Zombie Lake but they’re only on screen for a total of about ten minutes towards the end of the film and they only attack two people. They have suitably rotting faces complete with charred Nazi uniforms but we don’t get to see anything in the way of zombies devouring humans. All they simply do is swarm around their victims and wrestle them to the ground like you see in many other zombie films. But the money shots of throats being bitten out and flesh being torn away are sorely missing. The blurb on the box conjures up images of a feast of flesh but we got scraps – but even these scraps seem like a God’s send when you’ve sat through the rest of the film.

This is simply taken up with people talking monotonously to each other and people walking across sand…..lots of sand. Even at a slim running time of eighty-two minutes, this seems like shameless padding. There is a long flashback scene which takes up most of the film and seemingly uses WWII stock footage of Germans fighting, driving tanks and being blown up. But I want to see zombies, not Saving Private Ryan. At least the desert locations provide a sense of isolation for the film and it makes a change from being stuck in woods or desolated cities and being chased by zombies.


You’ll find yourself fingering the fast forward button on your remote a lot if you decide to tackle the abomination that is Oasis of the Zombies, one the worst zombie films ever. I dare anyone to watch Zombie Lake and this in a back-to-back sitting without falling asleep or wishing they were elsewhere.





One single comment

  1. Actually, somehow or other, the flashback scenes are not stock footage. One of the tanks the Germans are using may actually been period-correct, but the 2 armored cars are not. Those are something more modern with German crosses and desert camo paint jobs. The Jeeps of the “British” are full of guys with 70’s-length hair, and if they were being used by Brits, as so according to the “plot,” they would’ve been painted desert sand, not olive drab, and been mounted with 50-cal. machine guns a la The Rat Patrol (the actual historical Brit unit was the LRDG/SAS Long Range Desert Group/Special Air Service). The Jeeps also are not mounted with multiple “jerry cans” of water and petrol as was necessary for desert travel.

    Stock footage probably would’ve been an improvement.


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