Zaat Blu-ray Review
Directed by Don Barton
Written by Ron Kivett, Lee O. Larew, & Don Barton
1971, Region A, 100 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on February 21st, 2012
Marshall Grauer as Dr. Kurt Leopold
Wade Popwell as The Monster
Paul Galloway as Sheriff Lou Krantz
Gerald Cruse as Marine Biologist Rex
Sanna Ringhaver as Agent Martha Walsh
Dave Dickerson as Agent Walker Stevens
Archie Valliere as Deputy Sheriff
Nancy Lien as Girl Camper
Zaat, the tale of an unhinged former-Nazi scientist who unleashes a diabolical plan to mutate himself, the nearby marine life, and the entire state of Florida (ironic considering that the rest of the country already feels Florida is a land of mutants), is quite frankly a bad movie. But that’s exactly the point. In fact, Zaat, under its alternative title of Blood Waters of Dr. Z, was lampooned by Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in the day, and for valid reason.
The doctor’s devious master plan revolves around submersing himself into a shallow tank filled with water tainted by a compound dubbed ZaAt, a special concoction that will imbue the swimmer with aquatic abilities and strength. Turns out that one of the unfortunate unexpected side effects of ZaAt is that it will also turn you into a goofy looking rubber monster with shag carpet accents, a face like a gas mask, and a clumsy gait like you’re favoring an inflamed hemorrhoid. Taking the hideous transformation surprisingly well, the doctor takes his favorite Windex bottle full of ZaAt down by the water’s edge to casually spray his potion all around the Glades like he was spritzing prized roses.
The monster’s motivation is about as contrived and murky as a lake bottom, but who really cares about any of that? It’s all about a lumbering ghetto version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, its awkward kill scenes, and the bumbling locals who try and stop him. The acting is stiff, the special effects are dated (even for the ‘70s), the uncalled for 100 minute run time is tedious, the pacing is painful, and the action sequences are corny. Yet despite all of that, Zaat managed to come across as oddly charming and slightly offensive, yet innocent; like that sweet senile uncle of yours who farts and tells racist jokes at the Thanksgiving table.
Video and Audio:
Zaat on Blu-ray is like installing expensive chrome spinners and a purple neon undercarriage to an ‘87 beige Yugo. Your initial gut reaction would be “what’s the point?”, but once you are witness to the bright colors and improved clarity of a film whose original print was likely never very good to begin with, you will concede that there is simply no better way to watch such a camp classic. The audio is Dolby 2.0, and the dialogue track is nice and clear. Don't expect much more beyond that.
Zaat comes with a decent offering of special features including a pleasant but not necessarily insightful commentary track from director Don Barton, co-writer Ron Kivett, and actor Paul Galloway. There is an extensive screenshot gallery, television spots, a radio interview from 2001 (the film’s 30th anniversary), a fantastic before-and-after HD restoration montage, theatrical trailer and a collectable Zaat postcard. Needless to say, it would have been beyond fantastic if this release included the MST3K commentary w/optional silhouette overlay, but alas no. Licensing rights be damned.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are not a reflection of the Blu-ray image. They were captured using the standard DVD.*