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ZAAT (BLU-RAY)
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Don Barton

Starring:
Marshall Grauer
Paul Galloway
Gerald Cruse
Sanna Ringhaver

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

Former Nazi scientist Dr. Kurt Leopold hates his fellow scientists. To prove it, he plans to create a race of human/catfish monsters by polluting the local lakes and streams. Leopold first decides to use himself as a test subject for his radioactive formula (known as "Zaat"), and is instantly transformed into the walking, hulking fish/human hybrid. The monster now wants to mate, so he kidnaps a few of the local women who he'll make into female Zaat monsters. It's up to the Inter-Nations Phenomena Investigation Team (INPIT) to stop him.

Is it good movie?

Fans of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000 rejoice! One of the show's mocked film disasters is here on Blu-Ray in its entirety. Also known as THE BLOOD WATERS OF DR. Z and HYDRA, this 1972 "gem" is about what you'd expect for a film shot in Florida for $75,000. Whether it's the cheapo effects or the ridiculous acting, ZAAT's value must lie elsewhere. There's no denying that the film is bad, but just how bad of a bad movie is it? Pretty bad.

If you've ever had to do a job similar to mine, then you'll know how hard it is to write something positive about a film such as ZAAT. It has all the hallmarks of a bad B-movie, from it's ridiculous story (mad scientist dreaming of revenge by turning himself into a monster to terrorize those who wronged him), the cheesy effects (the Zaat monster costume is little more than a diving suit with stuff glued onto it), the fact that the story required the creation of a new government agency to tackle this thing (INPIT, or the Inter-Nations Phenomena Investigation Team that gets around using a dune buggy) and more stuff that I could go on about. I could write more about the details of the "plot" (it literally stops just for a segment involving hippies singing badly) and the "ending" (which makes no sense, by the way), but that would be spoiling the film's "glory".

Bottom line, the film really is one of the worst you'll see. But I suppose that's part of it's charm. There's something about that era of filmmaking that endears itself to people, rather than the crap that's spewed out nowadays with cheap CGI and purposely bad acting. But who knows? Maybe 30 years from now, they'll be screening SHARKTOPUS for it's annual convention, inviting all the people who worked on the film to come over for some laughs?

Uh, maybe not.

Fans of this film don't need any more convincing. Everyone else, depending on your disposition to bad B-movies, may want to see it first before you make your decision on whether its a "good" bad film or one that you probably shouldn't have wasted your time watching.

Video / Audio

Video: Presented in an AVC-encoded 1080p 1.78:1 transfer, the source for the transfer was a 35mm print that had some print damage and was faded. Nonetheless, the restoration featurette on the disc shows how things were fixed up. Colours are certainly bright and well-defined, although it's evident that the film has gone through a couple of filters, including the dreaded DNR. As such, there's little in the way of film grain, but textures lack detail, some stock footage is fuzzy and skin looks very waxy. It's better than your old VHS, and fans should still be pleased if they get past the odd look of people's skin.

Audio: Unfortunately (but not surprising), the only track included is a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that is predictably lacking. Very front-heavy with little in the way of surrounds, the track's lack of fidelity is kind of expected. I mean, this is a Z-grade monster movie, after all. Acceptable.

The Extras

First up is an audio commentary with director Don Barton, writer Ron Kivett, actor Paul Galloway and ZAAT fan Ed Tucker that honestly sounds like it was recorded underwater. Probably meant to be part of the charm. Anyways, the group obviously have a love for the project, and cover topics such as the film's production, the monster suit (and its problems), getting support and participation from the Jacksonville locals and how the film was promoted.

Following that is a radio interview with Wade Popwell and Ed Tucker that was conducted after a 30th anniversary screening of the film. The interview highlights 6'8 Popwell (who passed away in 2006) and his enjoyment of playing the monster in the film.

Also included are a set of outtakes from the film (which are very red-looking), an eight-minute photo gallery consisting of posters, production photos and conventions, the aforementioned before-and-after restoration demo (complete with DNR), some TV spots and the film's cheesy theatrical trailer.

As a bonus, a DVD copy of the film is included, as well as a postcard (?!) with the Blu-Ray cover art on the front.

Last Call

There's a very good reason why this film was lambasted on MST3K. ZAAT is bad in every way, from its acting, effects to its plot. Fans of the film will find this release to be a blast, no matter how bad the film really is. Everyone else expecting something more than a lower-than-low grade monster movie will be in for a nasty surprise.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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