Lake of the Dead (In Norwegian: De dødes tjern, also known as Lake of the Damned) is a 1958 Norwegian horror film directed by Kåre Bergstrøm, based on the 1942 novel by the same name, written by André Bjerke. The film stars Henki Kolstad, Henny Moan and Georg Richter.
A DVD was released October 14, 2009, with English subtitles. Before that, the movie was hardly known outside of Norway.
20th to 23rd August, 1958: Crime author Bernhard Borge and his wife Sonja, psychoanalyst Kai Bugge, magazine editor Gabriel Mørk, lawyer Harald Gran and his fiancée Liljan Werner are six Oslo people who are visiting Bjørn Werner (Liljan brother) in his cabin deep in the Østerdal forests. However, when the guests arrive, Werner is missing and his dog is found dead. It’s not long before they begin to ponder the old legend that is associated with the place: a man is said to have killed his sister and her lover and then drowned himself in the lake. There is a legend that everyone who stays in the house – the murderer’s cabin – would be possessed by a strange morbid attraction: forced to drown themselves in a watery grave. The company decide to solve the mystery, but soon, it appears that they are exposed to the mysterious, fascinating powers that are tied to the lake…
“Lake of the Dead is a hugely enjoyable film. It combines all the fun of a well constructed potboiler with a haunting lyricism that points toward far more murky depths beneath its polished surface. Viewed in the wee hours, and in an appropriately receptive state, it could definitely give you a deliciously good scare. As such, it’s easy to see why it holds such a hallowed place in the cinematic history of its country of origin. All the more impressive is how, in a manner sadly atypical of its genre, it manages to accomplish its humble aims with such subtlety and nuance.” Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!
“From a visual standpoint, it’s often breathtaking. The sense of complete isolation in the forest is effectively eerie and the lake itself, dotted with lily pads and often shot glimmering in the moonlight, begins to take on an almost ominous personality of its own as the film progresses. In some ways it is reminiscent of Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, which also contrasts the beauty in nature to more sinister goings-on beyond. In summary, Lake of the Dead is a cinematic experience not to be missed, even if your horror tastes have never before stretched to Scandinavian classics.” VisualCrack
” … a great mystery/horror if you’re a fan of the old black and white stuff. It’s certainly not too scary by modern standards, but it’s a nice break to see some classy Norskis romping around in sweaters and solving the mystery instead of being hacked to bits when they get caught humping. There’s a fair bit of comic relief, witty dialogue and a damned good mystery that I certainly never would’ve solved, so I loved it.” Sam Reeve, Bizarro Central