July 22, 2016
Review #823: Zaat.
Marshall Grauer (Dr. Kurt Leopold), Wade Popwell (The Monster), Paul Galloway (Sheriff Lou Krantz), Gerald Cruse (Marine Biologist Rex Baker), Sanna Ringhaver (INPIT Agent Martha Walsh), Dave Dickerson (INPIT Agent Walker Stevens), and Archie Valliere (Deputy Sheriff) Directed by Don Barton.
The movie begins with a monologue by the main character, the mad scientist who wants to become one with the fish (or something to that extent) to create a underwater society and it certainly seems to set the tone of a strange kind of film. That, and the folk song that plays during the opening credits. Zaat (also known as Blood Water of Dr. Z, Hydra, and Attack of the Swamp Creatures, with the latter two being bootleg titles) was written, produced, and directed by Don Barton, who filmed the movie in Jacksonville, Florida, where he lived. After around 10 minutes of monologue and seeing him walk around a lab (or a basement, but who knows), he finally gets around to transforming into "Zaat", which is about as exciting as this sentence. Obviously, the suit for this sea creature hybrid could not possibly look that great....but man is it ridiculous to look at. It looks like something out of a schlocky TV show, with splotches of green fur for some reason. They might have been better off editing the movie so you don't see the monster. The footage of the real life fish manages to make look even more ridiculous, but the way the person in the suit stumble around is even more silly. I don't know how, but somehow the transformation sequence (and the ensuing scene where he swims around in his new form) manage to be boring to watch, seemingly having little energy, which seems to be the big key thing about this movie. One of the scenes has the monster get revenge on someone that wronged him before, with shots of fish cut into the scene, which only makes this scene even more jumbled.
It's clear the movie was made cheaply, but I still can't believe how unbelievably ridiculous it is, and one can't really see the effort if they are teetering on the edge of boredom like I was. So much time is spent with Grauer and his random monologues that border on hypnotic or dull, that we don't really get much from the rest of the cast, and the attack scenes aren't any better. The way the movie is lighted and filmed come off as unappealing to the eye, approaching the levels seen in films like Monster A-Go-Go (#756)...but that film didn't have a part an hour in where a bunch of youths sing folk music for included in the movie for no real reason at all. The movie may seem silly, but it barely lets you laugh too much, resembling the person at a party who tries to be serious on a topic he doesn't much know about (in this case: how to make a fun movie) who trudges on despite the flaws in his argument without letting you laugh out of pity. It actually isn't until 20 minutes before the movie ends that the heroes figure out who was the one in question behind the murders, because...it didn't occur to them, I suppose. This would've probably better off if if had been made in the 50's than the 70's (because I suppose the monster wouldn't look so weird in black and white), but even then this isn't much of a movie to begin with, and even the ending is a downer. Turning the movie off after it ends doesn't usually give any emotion for me, but this time around I felt glad about finally being done. If you like schlocky films, this most likely will be in your alley, but I am just glad to be done with a film as weird as it gets.
Overall, I give it 1 out of 10 stars.