Zombie Lake begins with a trim young woman walking towards a lake, shedding her clothes and then jumping into the water. Like all good openings, that scene set the table for what is to follow: when I saw perky nipples in the first minute of the movie I knew that it was going to be unrepetently recycled garbage. And sure enough, this woman barely has time to aimlessly splash around before an underwater undead Nazi murders her, because that's what happens in bad horror movies like this. And sure enough, once she's shuffled off this mortal coil she is replaced by more half naked ladies and that one undead Nazi is joined by more Nazis and so on and so on.
I think I can encapsulate the Zombie Lake experience in one sentence: its title refers to the undead Nazis as "zombies", but all of the characters in the movie refer to them as "ghosts". I suppose that sentence is lacking one crucial tidbit - this movie is in French, so if you're going to watch it you're going to have to bother to read subtitles; that detail is important because the dialogue is so bad that at one point the mayor refers to the titular lake as "the damned lake of the damned" and having to focus your eyes to read that garbage instead of passively hearing it is adding insult to the movie's general injury. But still, that sentence pretty much gives you the gist, because it sets up the genre (horror), the tone (generic), and explains the execution (shoddy).
Just in case you still have questions, I suppose I should elaborate on the plot a bit. Back in World War Two a band of French Resistance fighters killed a bunch of Nazis in an ambush and then dumped their bodies in a nearby town's blood sacrifice lake. Now, whenever a naked lady ignores the warning signs posted all around the lake and decides to go skinny she's immediately killed by green-tinted Nazis who have defied death somehow. The mayor (who for some unexplained reason lives in a castle) has been ignoring all the rumors of ghosts (or zombies) in the town's lake, but when an entire softball (or volleyball? I forget) team gets themselves killed he has to do something about it. This time the zombies (or ghosts) have gone too far! The extra cops from the big city arrive, are very dubious of the ghost (or zombie) sightings, and then they, too, are killed. Then the mayor realize that the head Nazi's daughter lives in town, so they use her as bait to lure all the ghosts (or zombies) into a mill where they set them on fire.
At this point there is only one legitimate question that can be asked: is there anything that fire can't kill? Man, fire is the best.
Movies of this caliber are only enjoyable if you can laugh at them, and in some ways it's easy to laugh at this movie. It is Ed Wood level bad, and you can definitely laugh every time the Nazi's green face paint rubs off on their victims faces when there's a fight scene. There's a flashback scene where a woman hears the whistle of an incoming bomb, so she starts to run in no particular direction... then stops for no particular reason... then looks confused for an awkwardly long time... then an explosion happens nowhere near her... And then she falls over dead anyway. Mystery Science Theater could have a field day with this.
But there's another, deeper level, where making fun of this movie is almost impossible. It's so uninspired and so half-assed that it bored my brain to sleep. Before too long, I was incapable of making my own jokes, and I was just thinking about other people's jokes. For example, when all of the volleyball (or softball?) team goes skinny dipping, I laughed out loud - but only because I was thinking about the Achewood cartoon about "Rude titties".
I was also thinking of a Simpson's joke a lot. There's one episode where Lisa has a daydream that she's going to be exiled to Monster Island as part of her punishment for failing gym. A bystander at her sentencing tells her not to worry - the name "Monster Island" is a misnomer. There's a cut, and suddenly an incredulous Lisa is being chased by multiple monsters. The man who reassured her clarifies: the monster part is accurate, but Monster Island is less of an island and more of an archipelago. Now just imagine that joke, but switch out "Monster Island" for "Zombie Lake" and you'll get the gist of what I'm going for.
I don't want to sell Zombie Lake as a completely miserable experience - it did remind me of jokes that I like. But it's not a fun experience, either, because I'd like to at least be engaged enough to make fun of it with my own jokes. If I'm going to watch a movie and only be thinking of Simpsons references... Well, I should probably just switch to watching the Simpsons. So I honestly can't recommend this movie - unless you're really desperate to see some rude titties. In that case, I can at least recommend Zombie Lake's first minute.
Winner: The Cat