‘Zombie Lake‘ also known as ‘Le Lac des Morts Vivants‘, is a French film that was released in 1981 and was directed by Jean Rollin.
The movie was originally slated to be directed by Spanish exploitation master Jesus Franco, but he pulled out at the last minute and Jean Rollin stepped in to take his place only days before production was due to start, and he shot the film in 2 weeks. And guess what, it shows – in fact Jean Rollin credited himself under the pseudonym J.A. Laser because he was so appalled at the movie.
‘Zombie Lake‘ epitomizes B-movie exploitation horror, it is low budget, full of nudity, contains poor acting, bad script, awful special effects…and you will probably watch it because of these reasons – it really is bad.
The plot goes like this: During the war, a number of Nazi’s are executed by the residents of a small village and the bodies are dumped in a nearby lake. Over a decade later a woman swimming in the lake is attacked by one of the zombified Nazi corpses. More attacks occur and when the zombies start emerging from the lake the town’s Mayor and a reporter get involved and try to get to the bottom of things.
The soundtrack for ‘Zombie Lake‘ was composed by Daniel White.
Daniel J. White was a longtime collaborator with Jesus Franco and created the soundtrack for a number of his other films like ‘The Bare Breasted Countess‘ and ‘La mano de un hombre muerto‘. During his career Daniel White also scored films for Pierre Chevalier and León Klimovsky.
Daniel White was born in France in 1912 and had an interest in music from a young age, but it wasn’t until after World War II that he was able to pursue a career in it. He started off by playing piano in local clubs and shows, before he eventually moved into creating jingles and music for commercials and TV shows. Much of his early works can be found on albums on the Editions Montparnasse 2000 record label (a label owned and run by a French club-owner) such as ‘Musique Pour… Sports / Evénements‘, and ‘Musique Pour… Journal Parlé Et Télévisé‘
For a low budget film that could barely afford special effects, it will come as no surprise to find out that the soundtrack used in ‘Zombie Lake‘ was recycled from other films – most notably parts of the soundtrack that Daniel White had composed for the Jesus Franco film ‘Female Vampire‘ (1975) are used prominently in ‘Zombie Lake‘. Also, “Irina’s Theme” used in ‘The Bare-Breasted Countess‘ can also be heard in the film.
The soundtrack is a mix of lounge-y Euro-jazz, and doom filled synth/organ that sounds like it belongs in a church. There is no real middle ground in how the score is employed in the movie, and the soundtrack is used to explicitly spell-out the action for the viewer – the jazzy lounge music is used when the females are swimming or stripping off, and the Church-organ synth effects kick into effect when the zombies appear. If you were being polite then I guess you’d say it was ‘effective’.
There are also light-hearted pop moments to the score – in particular, there is a scene where a female basketball team stop to strip-off for a swim and a frolic in the lake (yes, I did write that correctly). The soundtrack turns into upbeat lounge-pop song, complete with trumpets and backing vocals singing lines like “Ohhhh…Bap a dap bap…..La La La La” while the girls get undressed and proceed to playfully splash each other in the lake. Needless to say, they all get attacked and the pop soundtrack is punctuated by Church-like organ chords, and jarring synth sounds when the action cuts to the zombies lurking below the surface…….and then it’s back to the “Ohhhh…Bap a dap bap…..La La La La” when the camera surfaces again to focus on the nude women. The juxtaposition between the two pieces of music does the job, albeit it heavy-handedly, but it is also pretty comical at the same time.
The soundtrack has never been released, and probably never will…given the fact that it has basically been amalgamated from a number of other films. You can find tracks from the film online though.
Listen to the theme for ‘Zombie Lake‘ below – it is a track by Daniel White called ‘Atlantide Story‘, and it was also used in Lina Romay’s “Confesiones íntimas de una exhibicionista” (a film written by Jesus Franco and co-directed by him).
You can hear more of the sound effects and music in the trailer for ‘Zombie Lake‘ below:
‘Zombie Lake’ trailer:
Fun fact: Daniel White was often used as an extra by Jesus Franco, and can be seen in many of his films as an incidental character.
Watch Zombie Lake at The Zombie Site