Sunday 11 October 2015

IMDb Bottom 100 Review - Number 45 Zaat

Another monster movie, a sub-genre of the Bottom 100 ensemble that never quite dies out, I think. Mad scientists are ever hellbent on world domination, and for some reason always have the means to attempt it. If I were a mad scientist, I wouldn’t even have enough cash to buy a white lab coat, let alone expensive equipment. I guess that’s why I’m not a mad scientist. I just don’t have what it takes! I also didn’t hunt jews in World War II or enable somebody else to, and that seems to also be something mad scientists have often dabbled in. I'm digressing into a sociopolitical analysis of this that you guys are far from equipped to follow, so, please, if you will, join me on quite a journey of the macabre, when I take an underwhelmingly critical look at…

Evil Scientist and his best, and most trusted friend, AND future gene-sharer: The catfish that started it all. 

Zaat (1971)

I think possibly only one other movie from the 70s has crept up into this reviewer’s blog at the time of writing. (You remember it, surely. Mitchell, if you don’t. It blew.) An interesting decade, because the 70s did give us a few decent mainstream movies, albeit not many compared to other decades. However, from the 50s to today, the 70s are the least represented, and that’s possibly a good thing, because with just one more movie of this sort, they would skyrocket up the charts of accumulated crap. This movie is from 1971, so I’ll credit the 60s with having influenced it heavily. Just because I hate the 60s, or their shitty movies at least. Anyway, Zaat is a monster movie, and not a very good one at that, mostly because the premise is ridiculous, too ridiculous really. Nothing ends up making sense, even in a monster movie context, this just doesn’t fly. The suspension of disbelief here reaches epic levels within 20 minutes of kick off, and you run out of swear words after another 10. An hour into the movie, you are questioning reality, I was anyway.

Look at the clarity. It's almost HD. Beautiful. If only the rest of the movie had looked like that. 
We are dealing with the classic mad scientist getup here: ex-nazi (I think) has been shunned from the scientific collective because of his completely logical notion that man and fish should probably mix and become one. The first of too many minutes of this movie is spent with the scientist putting about his lab with a bemused voice over chatting away. Basically, we deduce that he’s pissed off and is about to undergo his own treatment or experiment or whatever. He wants to be a catfishman. Sounds legit. He injects himself, and writhes about for a bit, and lo and behold, he emerges mere minutes later as a fully formed, human sized catfish….man. Like any other catfish-man clone, he immediately goes on a killing spree. We take a look at his whiteboard, which is set up like a weird calendar, with various pictures of (presumably) the assholes who dared question his motives; his kill list, if you will. I didn’t want to accept it, but I had no choice. I had to. You however, have the choice to reject this review. Anyway, he claws at a picture of some balding guy that just so happens to be out fishing with his wife and daughter in a little dinghy. Catfishman hits, and hits hard. All three die. Mission accomplished. Balding guy in picture is crossed out, in true kill list fashion.

What most of the movie actually looked like. Imagine what ended up on the editing floor.
Now, these murders don’t go unnoticed by the community, some scientists come down, and in collaboration with, what appears to be, the laziest and most obnoxiously daft police chief in the great state of wherever they are, they examine the bodies and determine that it’s possibly a big fish or something stupid like that. Fish attack! Of course, the police chief is reluctant to believe it’s a giant monster. I know I say that like that’s somehow ludicrous behavior, when really it’s the most realistic thing in this movie. With our already negated disbelief, he appears like a bumpkin of the worst sort by questioning the giant monster theory. The scientists start poking around about the same time that Catfishman(™) decides he needs to breed. He kidnaps a woman and injects her with his serum. Alas, the transformation fails, and, enraged, he reboots the killing spree and ups his game. More scientists are now worried, as the body count is steadily rising. Even the daft police chief is now worried and keen on finding a solution, it’s election year after all (probably perhaps I don’t know I just made that up.) Catfishman grows ever impatient and reckless, and like all good monsters he ends up being too sure of his own abilities for survival. He is shot dead on the beaches of Normandy (not really, but imagine if he was. That would be cool wouldn’t it?) while trying to carry some lady out to sea.

The most realistic part of this movie. And the third most annoying. 
As you may have expected, everything was wrong with this movie. The version I had seemed to be a shitty VHS rip, so there was a distortion at the bottom of the screen, that the movie couldn’t really help as such, but it still annoyed the fuck out of me. Weirdly enough it set the style of the movie perfectly. The sound was abysmal and most of the dialogue was muffled. Not a great loss, because I can’t imagine it being particularly intricate. They could have had a boys choir sing Bee Gees a capella, for all 95 minutes of this movie, and it would have been just as coherent. The acting. Oh my god the acting. I read some trivia about this movie, and it claimed that all but two or three of the cast members have this movie as their only attempt at making it in films. It was very apparent as everybody seemed to run around like a bunch of blind hedgehogs. In a bag. Dialogue could have been written by E. L. James. The story, if we boil it down to the absolute bare necessities, makes sense. Mad scientist experiments on self, kills people, wants lady friend, kills lady friend, is more mad and is eventually taken the fuck out of the equation. Yes. It makes sense. And somehow, even with a premise as simple as that, this movie manages to obscure and muddle it up enough that you are frustrated. There is a lot of just walking around shots. Wide shots of people walking. Walking to and from places. Who gives a shit? This movie is 95 minutes long, and it could’ve been cut down to 75 if they had removed completely pointless shit. Oh my fucking god. Scientist walking from a lab, through a woods. No. Just no.

Dude is slashed open from a monster encounter, but by all means let's all sit in his perfectly made bed, and contaminate everything. Sepsis wasn't a thing in the 70s?
The monster itself looked ridiculous. The body suit was acceptable, somehow managing to look generically monstrous. Black and gnarly was the correct look, and it doesn’t just look like a shitty rubber suit. Cool, right? Well no. Because the mask just multiplies all the good will the suit had built up. And it multiplies it with zero. That’s right. It looks so unfathomably stupid in it’s stupid catfishman face, that I found myself with hands clenched in fists of rage more than once when it was on screen. It was like three feet tall in and of itself. With a body of 6 feet, that just doesn’t look right. It looks stupid. Not scary. Not terrifying. Just stupid and laughable. I would have died guffawing wildly, if I had fallen victim to Catfishman. “Haha dude.. hahaha no seriously when you’ve killed me find a mirror. You’ll thank me later!” This fact irritated me, and ruined an otherwise horrible movie. The fight sequences looked like a couple of pre schoolers on speed were slugging it out underwater. Speaking of underwater, if any aspect of this complete shitshow could be singled out as less than abysmal, it was the few underwater scenes they had somehow managed to shoot. They looked weirdly crisper than the picture from above water and it wasn’t nearly as dark as the above water parts of the movie. It left me wishing they had shot the entire movie under water. I mean usually when I’m out swimming, it’s darker under water, because the sun is, well, not under water and water refracts light and all that, but in this movie physics had been disabled for the underwater shots. Everything else looked like it was shot at the twilight hour.

The black guy dies? Come on, 1970s. It's 2015 for Pete's sake. Did Wiz Khalifa live and die in vain? 
I hated this movie. A lot. It was boring and pointless and I wanted to stab myself in the jugular. That’s the most important artery in the throat, and would almost certainly cause me to bleed out. It would be worth it, for a moment of peace from this travesty. Don’t watch it if you intend to ever had kids. This movie sucks on a chromosomal level, and your DNA could be fucked with.

And here it is. What you've all been waiting for. The monster. I believe George Lucas saw this flick, and was inspired for Greedo. 

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