Zaat (1971)


aka The Blood Waters of Dr Z

USA. 1971.


Director/Screenplay/Producer – Don Barton, Story – Ron Kivett & Lee O. Larew, Photography – Jack McGowan, Music – Jamie DeFrates & Barry Hodgin, Electronic Music – Jack Tamul, Monster Costume – Martha Fillyaw, Ron Kivett & Les Lancaster, Makeup – Lee James O’Donnell. Production Company – Barton Film Company


Wade Powell (The Monster), Marshall Grauer (Dr Kurt Leopold), Paul Galloway (Sheriff Lou Krantz), Dave Dickerson (INPIT Agent Walker Stevens), Gerald Cruse (Rex), Sanna Ringhaver (INPIT Agent Martha Walsh), Archie Valliere (Deputy Sheriff), Nancy Lien (Abducted Girl)


In the town of Cypress Grove, Florida, scientist Dr Kurt Leopold has been labouring for twenty-five years on his Zaat formula, defying ridicule to persevere with his theories that fish can be shown how to walk and will eventually inherit the Earth. He bathes in a tank of Zaat formula and emerges as a human-fish hybrid. Heading out into the bayous, he injects the fish there with formula to make them grow in size, while also attacking the humans he comes across. Reports of the monster come to the attention of the sheriff who mounts a hunt. Leopold then decides to abduct a woman and inject her with the formula to make her into his fish mate.

Zaat/The Blood Waters of Dr Z has gained a reputation as a bad movie classic. It has a permanent position on the IMDB Worst Movies list. It received sporadic drive-in release when it first came out and was circulated in 1974 under the title The Blood Waters of Dr Z. It languished in obscurity for many years, was resurrected on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-99) in 1999 and then received a dvd release in 2012, although bootleg and video copies have circulated under various different unofficial titles.

Zaat immediately plunges into bad movie territory during its opening scenes where Marshall Grauer’s scientist gives a long scientifically nonsensical speech in voiceover about his plans to give fish legs so that they can inherit the Earth. All of this is laid over the top of aquarium footage – the filmmakers shot at Marineland of Florida and one gets the impression they conceived the film around the availability of the location. In the next scenes, Grauer winches himself into a tank of formula and emerges as a ridiculously cheesy looking monster. Despite Marshall Grauer being top-billed, the rest of the character’s scenes are played by Wade Powell in the monster suit.

On the other hand, after having introduced its monster and premise, the film then seems at a loss of what to do. Most of the rest of the show is slow moving and concerns the scientist wandering around in monster form, injecting fish with the formula and occasionally stalking or scaring people. Nothing much else happens – and it seems to take forever to do so. The behaviour of the monster seems borrowed from The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) – there are scenes with it looking on from in the water at the bikinied Nancy Lien and even a scene blatantly copied from Black Lagoon with it following her from under the water as she swims and then abducting her. Zaat does at least take the monster’s preoccupation with the heroine further than The Creature from the Black Lagoon did – it takes her to its laboratory and places her in its tank so as to convert her into a mate for it. Later its attentions become overt as we see it acting as a peeping tom and spying in on Sanna Ringhaver as she showers.

Aside from Marshall Grauer’s nonsensical voice-overs, Zaat seems lacking in much of the way of the hilariously awful gaffes that fans of this type of movie love. There is one rather amusing scene when the police are examining a corpse on the morgue table and we can see it moving. There is much voiceover talk of the scientist’s experiments as he sets out into the wider world, injecting fish with a serum that will make them giant-sized and give them legs. However, we get to see almost nothing of the results of this, apart from one laughable scene where we get fish crawling across a pavement and then demolishing a ridiculously unconvincing model fence. The film’s one moment of purely surreal imagination is the scene where the sheriff (Paul Galloway) takes a group of hippies away, herding them Pied Piper-like off to jail and into cells as they blissfully sing, dance, make music and ride through the streets atop the police jeep.

Full film available online here:-

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