Sunday, November 18, 2012

Zaat – A Man, Fish, Monster or Devil?

By Steve D. Stones

Zaat is such an obscure early 1970s cult gem that it rarely appears in any film encyclopedia. Scary Monsters Magazine dedicated their issue #38 to Zaat. Film Chest recently released Zaat on a Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack. A lobby card of poster artwork of the film is also included in the pack. This is a must have for any true fan of rare cult monster movies.

A bitter Cypress Grove, Florida scientist, Dr. Kurt, conducts experiments on himself and local marine life. His experiments turn him into a half-human, half-fish monster. He goes on a murderous rampage to find a perfect female mate to turn into a fish monster to breed with. He also pollutes the local waters to make fish wash up to shore in an attempt to make them into mutant monstrosities. In Kurt’s lab is a circular chart that looks similar to an astrology wheel. On the wheel are poorly drawn images of women he wants to kidnap and colleagues he wants to murder for ridiculing him. As he murders his victims, he crosses them off his chart. 

A group of filmmakers in 1970, led by director Don Barton, set out to create a regional monster, B-movie in Florida in hopes it would get local screenings, and then move onto national screens. Writer Ron Kivett and Lee Larew came up with the idea to create a monster movie based on a Florida phenomenon of walking catfish.

 What makes Zaat such a fun gem is that although it is a 70s low-budget film, it has all the markings of earlier 1950s monster movies. Some 50s monster movies that come to mind are Creature From The Black Lagoon, First Man Into Space, Monster of Piedras Blancas and From Hell It Came. A number of other low-budget monster movies were made in the Florida region in the 1960s & 70s that would make a great double-feature with Zaat, such as Octaman, Sting of Death, Death Curse of Tartu and Milpitas Monster. Happy Viewing!

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