Zaat is one of those so-bad-it’s-good moving pictures that has a great deal of hilarity going on for itself. The colorful lab sequences are a dream come true for those of us who always wanted to construct our own mad scientist sets as kids, while the bad acting and amateur electronic soundtrack (some familiar stock music plays in certain parts as well) correspond joyously. Zaat also has several of the most truly inept heroes ever. Dave Dickerson’s character not only tries to track the monster down in an Amphicat, but somehow manages to stall the amphibious vehicle. From there, he is bitten by a water snake, crawls right past the creature in the woods, and still can’t shoot the monster with a rifle (with a scope) when it’s only a few feet away. Classic stuff.
Not surprisingly enough, Zaat — which was released on videocassette back I the day as Hydra and Attack of the Swamp Monster(s) — showed up in an edited-down form on Mystery Science Theater 3000 under the alternate title, Blood Waters of Dr. Z, wherein the film was not only heckled mercilessly, but succeeded in introducing the homegrown horror flick to an even larger audience. Fans of both the MST3K version as well as the unedited original will want to check out the beautiful new transfer that the collective genii of Film Chest, CULTRA, and HD Cinema Classics have released here.
Boasting some truly gorgeous colors throughout, the presentation of Zaat here is positively stunning. Unlike previous releases by Film Chest/CULTRA/HD Cinema Classics, Digital Noise Reduction doesn’t seem to be as heavily into play here (which is a relief)
Some of the film’s darker scenes don’t have a tremendous amount of depth to them, but the rest of the movie looks better than ever. The HD transfer is dedicated to the memory of the late Wade Popwell (who passed away in 2006), citing him as “the nicest monster we ever knew” by the creators of the film, who have obviously worked hard in restoring this guilty pleasure. Additional efforts have gone into play to bring us a number of special features, which include an audio commentary from director Don Barton, co-writer Ron Kivett, actor Paul Galloway, and is hosted by historian/archivist/huge fan ED Tucker. The track is a fun one, and is basically just a group of old friends getting together, but it isn’t scene-specific, as it sounds as if Tucker’s guests literally phoned it in.