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My teenage son bet me that this movie, once viewed by me, would be the
movie I'd ever seen. As a lifetime movie buff I found this highly
I was wrong.
Yes, I gave it a 2, dammit. The underwater photography is tolerable and
there are a couple of suspenseful attacking moments. Basically, however,
this movie rambles on pointlessly, much like the "walking catfish" mutant
and the government agent who tracks him in the last third of the
The first 20 minutes of the movie is in (hilarious) voiceover, and you begin to wonder if they lost the soundtrack ala Creeping Terror and Beast of Yuca Flats. Then the characters actually start speaking on-screen and you wish they had lost the soundtrack. The dialogue seems to bear no resemblance to the onscreen goings-on. I suppose it establishes some plot points and clarifies things for the audience, but there are so many ramblings and offshoots that you just kinda of give up and give in.
The "monster" looks like an early draft of a Silurian costume from Doctor Who, with a fur neckpiece (??). The skinny, balding bad guy is on-screen for only a few minutes before undergoing his transformation, but imprints himself indelibly in our minds thanks to his stripping down, his hamhanded maneuvering himself into the transformation tank, and his omniscient voiceover narration.
And the fish! What is it with the fish? The opening narration dwells on them (giving us a good impression of Jacques Costeau as a Nazi gone bad), and at least one murder scene decides to insert random shots of fish in-between cuts. There seems to be some kind of implied ecological nature-takes-vengeance message here somewhere, but like everything else, it is lost entirely in the rambling dialogue.
Basically, the movie is pretty much a waste of celluloid. A few good moments, as I've seen far worse underwater cinematography. Watch it if you dare.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one ugly mama-jamma of a movie, incredibly cheap looking and
badly made. It also appears to have been edited with a garden weasel.
Countless mistakes were made about what film devices would tell the
story and establish a mood, as opposed to those that would drop the
ball and irritate the viewer. For my own amusement, (and hopefully, the
reader's as well), I'd like to expound on a few of the most obvious.
1) The monster costume. It looks as if it cost about a buck ninety-eight, and is possibly the most irritating monster costume to behold for extended periods of time since the pickle-stuffing sea monsters from "Horror At Party Beach". Since the monster is pretty much front-and-center for most of the movie, there is no getting away from this piece of crap. Every time I see it, I want to egg the director's house and pour sugar in the gas tank of his car.
2) The opening song: A lugubrious folk-guitar thing, it contains the lyrical line, "Sashay through the sarcasm". This is perhaps the stupidest line in an opening theme song in the last 30 years.
3) The stock footage: The director (or someone) apparently thought that if he spliced in stock footage of various lake and swamp creatures, he would establish a foreboding/foreshadowing of the world that Dr. Z hoped to create with his master plan. Or maybe he thought he was expressing the idea that Dr. Z was the embodiment of the rage and anger of the aquatic world, focused on mankind. Doesn't work, though. Typical example: the monster starts to kill a rival scientist, and the movie jumps to a 2 second shot of a bored looking catfish, then back to the monster killing the scientist, then to a 1 second shot of a shrimp. This isn't so much horrifying as it is incoherent.
4) Odd choices on how to spend camera time: In a "real" movie, the actual mechanism used to put the subjects in the "transformation tank" wouldn't be anything to waste movie time with. The subjects would step in at gunpoint, or would be pushed in, or would dangle from their wrists from an overhead winch, or would locked into a tub and have the solution poured in on them...something like that. You wouldn't think about it, or even notice it.
But here, the director spends what seems like 20% of the movie focusing on the block and tackle setup used to lower the subjects into the tank. Instead of experiencing the horror of the victims, we have to consider the endless ramification of pulley systems and sailor knots. After the fourth shot of the pulley system, I couldn't think of anything else. I am pretty sure that isn't what Barton had in mind.
4) The sound design: This is actually pretty effective for the first part of the movie - lots of echos and swamp creature calls, etc. But then as the movie hits its climax when the INPIT agent starts across the swamp in his little buggy...and the soundtrack cuts in with a 30 second 'chase' music loop straight out of old Hanna-Barbera cartoons like "Jonny Quest" and "The Herculoids" . What the...??
5) Speaking of the 'hero': he doesn't appear until 45 minutes into the movie. He then spends most of the next 25 minutes standing on the running boards of his Jeep as his team travels around as if he were Doc Savage or something. He then jumps into a six-wheeled Dune buggy thing (which looks like a toy that you would give your six year old) and drives hell bent into the swamp...only to stall out and bog down in the swamp in the very next scene. This makes him look like a complete idiot.
Our rugged, dynamic hero and expert in biology and natural ecosystems then spends the next few scenes getting beaten to pieces while walking though the swamp; he then gets to the monster/scientist hideaway too late to save anyone else. Excuse me...was this supposed to be exciting? What was the point of this guy being here? And by the way, when the film cuts back to the hero SLOWLY S-L-O-G-G-I-N-G through the swamp, the Hanna-Barbera chase music starts back up again. What the...?
6) Needless to say, no one in this movie can act, although the guy who plays the biologist has a certain amount of camera appeal.
7) The lighting, color values and camera-work: many of the shots used here, especially in the underwater sequences, are enough to make you lose your appetite. Everything is slimy, grainy, dingy, dull, and dirty. This may have been intentional, but it only adds to the viewer's distress at having to sit though this movie.
Anyway, enough. "ZAAT", or "Blood Waters..." or whatever it is, wouldn't even cut it as the bottom entry at a Saturday night drive-in triple feature. Avoid like the plague, unless you are a serious devotee of grade Z horror films. Even MST3K couldn't save this one, except for the bumper segment where Crow harangues Mike from the ceiling with a parody of the mad scientist's opening voice-over: "Saddle soap...cleaning compound of deceit!"
Oh yes, and the line, "I need another bowl of Zoloft!"
Rented this because it had a cool monster on the cover. I should have asked the video store if I could destroy it for them. It was so slow and stupid. The monster is terrible and looks nothing like the one shown on the cover. If you are trying to fall a sleep, you MUST see this. It is so bad.......... No further comments for this brain-melter. Read a good book or see a good movie instead.
An idiotic scientist decides to turn himself into a walking catfish
monster. He also wants to create a new race of fellow walking catfish
monsters. This is a horrible movie. It starts off with some laughable
narration and an awful folk song. It only gets worse from there. That
said, I was cracking up a lot throughout this thing. There's one golden
moment shortly after the guy has changed into monster form. He's
walking through a basement and clearly trips over something, perhaps
the shitty monster costume itself. We're also privy to the long, drawn
out process of him getting his machines, pulleys and other junk
together for the mutation. This takes up about 20 minutes of screen
time all by itself.
About halfway through the film, we get more awful singing from a bunch of hippies, followed by a march to the local jail. The so-called hero of the picture is a joke. He and his girlfriend also wear ridiculous red jumpsuits. They should have just stuck with the college guy and the sheriff, not that doing so would have saved the movie or anything. This is currently #10 on the IMDb bottom 100 list. There's no question that this is a bad movie, but I wouldn't rate it that low simply because of the amusement I got out of it.
I actually really liked this film, but I am also a big fan of cheap, trashy,
ugly little films from the 60s and 70s. This is one of the cheapest and
ugliest, but it has a rough appeal to it nonetheless.
A nerdy, evil little scientist who looks like Elmer Fudd decides to turn himself into a giant fish monster, and succeeds...sort of. Actually, it looks like he slapped some mud on a gas mask and donned a suit made of out dirty Glad garbage bags. But if you like your monsters goofy, you'll like this one. Anyway, our bad tempered fish monster goes on a killing spree in remote Florida. When he's not killing, he's ogling a beautiful blond in a bikini and a conveniently beautiful scientist whose fatal mistake was to disrobe in front of the window and put on a pretty sun dress.
This film is absolutely ludicrous, but it's also a lot of fun. The unhappy ending was not something I saw coming, and was a shock since this film seemed to so very badly want to recapture the glory days of mad-scientist-making-monsters-in-their-basement-labs movies from the 50s. If you want to see a lot of truly stupid yokels getting killed, then this movie is for you. It's just bad enough to be entertaining.
I first read about this movie as being called ZaAt. Then I actually watch it
under the name "Attack of the Swamp Monsters." THEN I hear about it once
again as The Blood Island of Dr. Z as showed on MST 3k. I have not seen the
MST 3k version of this movie, but one has to admit, they would have a LOT to
work with. The lighting of this movie was terrible, the kill scenes were
very short, the mask! Well, the mask is very self explanatory.
One thing that boggled my mind was after the monster tipped the boat, there were two people floating in the water, while one scrambled to shore. One person in the water was still moving their hands even though it's my best guess that the catfish monster killed them. And then when the monster went up on the land to kill the other person, HE DIDN'T EVEN TOUCH THE PERSON!!! It looked like he just swept a bug off of her chest and she just went limp!!! What?!? I'm no corroner, but I know that somebody doesn't die from being brushed, even if it is by a catfish type monster. My biggest complaint as in every 70's movie, was the lighting. I have never seen worse lighting in my life. You could use the indiglo of a watch and see what was happening better than the lighting from this movie. But what was so bad about it was that there was bad lighting during scenes that looked like they were important, like the fight scene between the people of INPET (shoulda been named "INEPT") and the monster. That looked like it could have been a big scene, if only we could have seen what was going on. And how about those fresh water underwater scenes, you know, with the coral and tropical fish and currents and all. That must have seen some fresh water pond to house coral. Last time I checked, coral doesn't grow in fresh water, never mind that it grew in a pond.
Well, I'll let you watch to enjoy the rest of the movie, although I do suggest you go out and rent the non-MST 3k version, just because sometimes it's fun to enjoy a movie without someone telling you what's funny about it.
This film is a testament to the low budget, independent monster/horror flicks of the 60's and 70's. Man with a grudge, Dr. Kurt Leopold, transforms himself into a murderous "man fish" reeking revenge on all who have scorned him and anyone who gets in his way. Sure, the FX are non existent, the acting and dialogue amateurish, and the monster looks incredibly inane - a "man fish" with fur around the neck and back to hide the zipper! But that's what makes these films loads of fun to watch! You have to admire these independents who often invest their life savings to produce these gems. Lots of heart and soul fuse this genre. Today's excuses for cinema with bloated corporate budgets, over production, over paid prima donna actors, and excessive FX can't compare to the spirit and zeal of this genre. Cinamatic hacks such as Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas, and Coppola who prostitute themselves on a consistent basis can learn a lot from the likes of The Blood Waters of Dr. Z.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film under the title, The Blood Waters of Dr. Z on the cult
riffing show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Apparently, it is more
commonly known by the title Zaat and though I am sure there is a lot of
movie that MST3K did not show, I am rather sure it still would have
been a very poor movie. The main problem with it? No matter how much
more gory it might have been, no matter if there was nudity you cannot
ignore the fact the monster of this film looks and acts horribly!
Seriously, the monster in this one does not look as good as a monster
in a Roger Corman film from the 50's, the monster in Night of the Blood
Beast looks more intimidating! Basically, the thing is supposed to be
part man and part fish...part catfish that is, which is absurd to begin
with. The body portion of the costume is very dumpy and the head looks
like a joke as the mouth looks like it is a set of novelty vampire
fangs! The Creature From the Black Lagoon looks way better than this
thing and once again it is from an older film. If the looks of the
thing were not bad enough then it is the fact I have never seen a more
nonthreatening monster in terms of its movements. It is constantly
tripping and stumbling and movie and swimming at a snail's pace, and
the audience is supposed to believe this thing is a threat?
The story has a man talking over a bunch of clips of fish, making one almost think this is a nature documentary read by a deranged man. You see, Dr. Leopold wants to turn himself into a fish and rally the other fish to his cause to take over the world! His partner in crime, the walking catfish! Other than a scene where Leopold talks about how they achieve movement over land, you do not really see them do anything as far a terror. Dr. Leopold soon turns himself into the most embarrassing looking monster ever and begins his quest for world domination as he tries to kidnap an attractive blond and turn her into his mate. Meanwhile, the heroes of this piece consist of a sheriff, some sort of water guy and two agents who wear orange jumpsuits. The are the most incompetent group ever as they literally could have just went to Dr. Leopold's house and set up an ambush and probably wiped the floor with him.
This made for a very funny episode of MST3K as the film provided plenty of riffing material. As I've stated, the monsters looks, the strange voice over with the fish clips, the monster kills and the strange scene involving an off camera mom who you never see. You don't even see her car! The episode gets a bit boring during the stretch where the guy is riding the door and they are just driving, but then ramps back up when the one guy wants to track the beast in his little toy car/boat and then proceeds to stumble through the swamp letting you know that the monster simply lucked out in this one as he had the four most incapable heroes ever.
So the movie is rather bad and I am going to guess seeing an unedited version would not improve it much. That being said, I would almost like to see an unedited version to see what was taken out and see if maybe there is a scene depicting the giant catfish and see if maybe there was any nudity in this one as there were a couple of instances where there looked like there might of been. I don't think the kills would get much better as one of the kills they showed had the monster with a hand already full of blood swipe past a young man it was killing. Still, as bad as it was, it is still a rather amusing film to watch and made for a very funny episode of MST3K.
The IMDb correctly discourages comments from referencing other
comments, but since ZAAT has the honor of being one of the IMDb's
lowest rated films, it's appropriate to pay a nod to one of the chief
forces behind its low rating. This main reason ties in with the
peculiarity of a rarely seen and relatively unavailable film getting as
high as over 2,000 votes.
A reviewer from Tennessee got to the heart of this matter in his 2007 IMDb user's essay; he addressed another IMDb comment that bemoaned the majority of the reviewers having only seen ZAAT in its Mystery Science Theater 3000 dissection, which also happened to be the way the Tennessee reviewer saw the film. The MST3K crew cut out over a half-hour, so the IMDb reviewers who based their thoughts on the MST3K's put-down presentation didn't even see the whole film. "Why in God's name would I want to see 30 more minutes of this trash!" was the Tennessean's response.
It is patently unfair to review a film on a version the purpose of which was to poke fun at the film. It is as if a film is judged not by watching the film, but by reading the MAD Magazine satire of it. And it especially becomes unfair if the satirized version has been abridged -- that's like a book reviewer who reviews a book based on only some chapters.
Add to this formula the cynicism of a newer generation, who thinks it's "cool" to put down media-presented efforts; by doing so, such people think they are being smarter, and what a nice way to feel better.
Of course ZAAT is a "bad" movie. Amateurish and logically-challenged -- for example, why would the sheriff not have drawn his gun on the approaching monster? (But don't get me started on the many places this movie has gone wrong; at this writing, there are about 70 reviews you can read, most of which will happily point out the absurdities.)
Yet I entered into this debacle with exactly such low expectations. And yes, there were drawn-out scenes that were not easy to sit through. All in all, however, if you know what you're going to be in for, you accept the vehicle for what it is, and it is your attitude that is going to affect your judgment, and your ultimate enjoyment.
I can honestly say there are many uninspired and forgettable films that are far more polished and professional than ZAAT, but for all ZAAT's inanities, I could appreciate the effort that went into ZAAT. The producer obviously had a very low budget (I'd imagine his contacts with the Florida Marine facility might have inspired the "plot" -- without money, a film can be designed around the locations and other assets), yet still managed to come up with a stupidly imaginative film.
I appreciated the quality of the monster suit, for one thing -- given what must have been the restraints of the budget and the local special effects talent. Some of the dialogue was actually pretty clever. The fact that a black character was chosen as one of the heroes was admirable -- it was only a few years earlier that Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD had helped break the mold in this area, at least for horror movies. The director and/or editor also tried hard at times to add some excitement, for example with the insert shots during the attack on the scientist in his house. And the female victim was very beautiful. (With a movie like this, you've got to appreciate what you get.)
I'm giving the film a few undeserved stars as a reaction against the numerous IMDb snobs who don't even have the decency to watch the real thing. And for those who have taken in the real thing, what DO these people expect when they watch a locally made monster movie from the 1970s that defines the word "cheesy"? On that level, ZAAT delivers in spades.
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