Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Zaat (1971)


Written & Directed by Ron Barton

Dr. Kurt Leopold...Marshall Grauer
The Monster...Wade Popwell
Martha...Sanna Ringhaver
Rex...Gerald Cruse

The town of Cypress Grove, Florida has been besieged by a new type of pest: walking catfish that are just as able to survive on land as in sea. The sheriff, a good ol' boy type, isn't too concerned but he calls in some environmental scientists anyway, just to placate his constituency.

Turns out these mutant catfish are the work of the resident mad scientist, who is obsessed with water life and wants to see them take over the world. Using his secret formula ZaAt, he turns himself into a mossy mess of a man, ready to lead his moist army into the future.

But first, he needs a wife...

It's something of an Eco-minded horror flick--like the ungodly offspring of The Lorax and The Creature From The Black Lagoon. And if that doesn't pique your interest, I don't think anything will.

Far from a good film in the traditional sense, Zaat has become something of a cult classic of bad cinema, which I think it rightly deserves. While some may be able to enjoy it on their own, it probably needs a small crowd of peers and a large cache of beer to be fully appreciated.

There are so many disparate elements that keep you watching even after realizing what a hot mess you're seeing unfold on the screen, I don't think I can list them all.

The special effects are beyond bad, and the dialogue is often cornball. The performances are rather stiff, especially by the bit players, and the pacing is all over the place.  All of the scientist/monster dialogue is performed via voice over narration for some reason, and it meanders from the educational to the pseudo-philosophical and back again. He is the subject of plenty of overly-long scenes that test the limit of your patience--the opening 15 minutes consists almost entirely of him tooling around his laboratory.

There are a few real beautiful women on display here, and although there are a number of times that full-flesh seems imminent, it's yanked away from you at the last possible second. Bastards! Still, hotties are hotties, and I never argue with a gratuitous bikini shot.

The highlight for me, though, was the soundtrack. It featured some truly stellar protest folk songs, which sadly I have not yet located for purchase. There was a bizarrely beautiful scene where a guitar-strumming troubadour leads a group of youths to safety, Pied Piper-style, that I had to rewind and watch again.

The Film Chest/Cultra release is remastered in HD, and comes in a Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack. The picture looks phenomenal considering the age and pedigree of the movie, and should be enjoyed by purveyors of fine cheese everywhere.

It would pair perfectly with The Beast of Yucca Flats...if you're strong enough to stomach it.

Rated PG
100 Minutes
United States


  1. :) Hahaha niiiiice. "Zaat!" is also known as "The Blood Waters of Dr. Z" as it appears in a late-season ep of Mystery Science Theater 3000. They do a fun job with this one.

    Stay J, I say.

  2. Sounds like it would make a great double bill with Troll II. Bad bad movies can be fun, you just have to be in the right mind set for it.

  3. J2: Right you are, sir! The robots did do a rip-roaring good job with this flick. I had to take care of the wisecracks myself this time, and I didn't even have an audience.

    FC: Troll II would probably be a good pairing. You're right about having to be in the proper mind set--and a few libations certainly helps you get there.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I actually worked on ZAAT. I was there. We knew we had a classic because the crew would howl with laugher at the dailies each night. Such a lot fun for such a bad film.


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