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Ray Dennis Steckler
Ray Dennis Steckler,
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For its 1999 airing on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Zaat (shown under the title Blood Waters of Dr. Z) was heavily edited. Among the numerous scenes cut were further scenes of the INPIT agents, Dr. Leopold disposing of his victim in a vat of acid, scenes of the locals evacuating, and one bizarre scene where a band of singing hippies is taken to the jail by the Sheriff. See more »
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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