Thursday, May 19, 2011

DVD Review: Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies, by Jesus Franco

Text © Richard Gary/FFanzeen, 2011
Images from the Internet

Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies
Written and directed by A.M. Frank (aka Jesus Franco)
Re-released by Cheezy Flicks, 1981/2011
82 minutes, USD $14.95

This was written by guest reviewer, Richard Gary.

Sometimes one can tell how bad a film is just by how many names it goes by, especially if it came out in Europe during the 1980s. Now, the director is Jesus Franco under the pseudonym A.M. Frank (I’m guessing as in “I Am Franc[o]), so the expectation should be low in the first place. While it’s original incarnation was as L'abîme des morts vivants, it’s English releases alone include The Treasure of the Living Dead, The Oasis of the Living Dead, Oasis of the Zombies, The Walking Nazi Dead, Nazi Zombies,, and this release of BNZ.

Here is the basic premise of the plot: Nazis were trucking gold through Northern Africa (Morocco?) during Dubbya Dubbya Dos, when they were attacked by the Allies at an oasis in the desert, and now they have returned from the dead to protect said gold in the form of flesh-eatin’ zombs. The college-age son of one of the sole Allied survivor decides to find the treasure after his dad is killed by a greedy turncoat. Along with a couple of buds, they run into the traitor, some hot women who come along for the ride, and, of course, some of those pesky, slow-moving meat chompers.

While the whole shebang is a bit of fun (after all, it is a Franco film), it’s also a lot of fluff (after all, it is a Franco film). There are more questions than answers by the end, and on so many different levels. For example:

If it is Nazi zombies protecting the gold, how come we never see any Nazis? Yes, there is a swastika on an overturned jeep, but all the zombies have (relatively) long hair and no uniforms. I’m guessing these are supposed to be the victims who have turned into zombies themselves, but there is not a single Nazi in sight, nor any of the post-dead over the age of, say, mid-20s.

I’m just guessing here that the original, foreign-language dialog was written by Franco, but the English translation I am assuming was not? There is almost a Firesign Theater-type disconnect from the action actually happening on screen and what the characters are saying. As an example, the night after a zombie attack where part of the son’s troupe is killed, this lighthearted dubbed interchange takes place:
Male: Shit!
Female: You say “shit” like you’re from Brooklyn.
Male: Yeah, a real native.

What the hell?

Another is a scientist, commenting on the zombie attack, who makes that old grade school joke, “They came out of the sand which is there.”

And as for that attack, I wonder, would these kids really be making out, joking around, etc., that soon after a violent run-in with the post-dead? For me, I would be out of there soooo fast. A part of Eddie Murphy’s routine from Delirious when he’s discussing the film The Amityville Horror comes to mind.

The zombies seemly attack at night during the main part of the story (they fade into the air when the sun hits them), but how come they came out during the day to attack two women tourists during the prolog? And if the victims come back to be zombies themselves, how come all the zombies are male? And why only when women are attacked, do the zombies rip off their clothes before eating… well, I can guess the answer to that: it’s the 1980s!

Despite the cheesy writing, amateurish special effects (including puppets), grainy and sometimes unfocused film (actually, this may be a transfer to DVD taken directly from a VHS), inconsistent tone of the characters, an over the top hammy death scene (play the trailer below), and some of the serious questions I’ve listed below, only one piece of dialog really bothered me (even more than the Brooklyn comment): After the only survivors of the attack come out alive, a rescuing Bedouin asks one of them, “Did you find what you were looking for?” The response is, “I mainly found myself.” Well, bully for you! What about the rest of your friends and others of your party who are toast? So glad he found himself at the expense of so many others. Yes, I talked back to the screen, possibly even insulting the character’s mother.

Oh, and I realize this is looking back to the 1980s through a post-9/11 rearview mirror, but watching long leggy beautiful actresses walk around Muslims praying made me just a little, well, self-conscious of Western imperialism.

This film is typical of many Euro-trash horror genre of the ‘80s, with a weak story and made on a low budget (some exceptions are those by Fulci and Argento), but also characteristic is the factor of enjoyment in their ineptitude, perhaps even more so because of it, and this is no exception. I’ve been watching some indie films that have been released in the last few years, such as Bill Zebub’s Worst Horror Movie Ever Made, Creep Creepersin’s Frankenstein, and Matthew Kohnen Ahhh! Zombies!!, and nearly all of them are usually equally entertaining (if not more so), have a stronger factor of creativity (well, Zebub’s work is usually borderline as much as I like some of it), and especially a robust sense of not taking themselves too seriously that most Euro releases from the period severely lack.

That being said, BNZ is the kind of film that is a lot more fun to watch with a crowd than in a lonely garret, so grab your food and beverage of choice (mine would be, of course, some White Castle and Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda), and hunker down to groan in delight. And feel free to yell at the screen.

Bonus video :

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