Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: Robert Hood / Avery Guerra
Forty years ago film maker Don Barton left his mark on the B monster movie genre with "ZAAT" a film about a man who turned himself into a monster so that he could destroy the world and score with bikini girls. Well ... that's not entirely accurate. It's the story of a mad scientist who turns himself into a half-human-half-catfish so that he can "pollute the entire universe" (one swamp at a time) and score with bikini girls.
Who hasn't had that fantasy before right?
Anyway "ZAAT" is part "Creature from the Black Lagoon", part "Boggy Creek" and a whole lot of make-out film with girls in their underwear being strapped to tables. You know a typical Saturday night in Mississippi.
Now some forty years after the fact Don Barton has decided to return to his fish loving roots with a sequel to his once forgotten film. According to the film maker "ZAAT" is about to get a DVD release in December and tomorrow (Sunday October 23, 2011) he will be on hand for a special 40th anniversary screening at the Five Points Theater in Jacksonville, Florida (The local where the original film was shot) with a teaser for the film, which is entitled "Darn Monster".
Never seen "ZAAT"? ... well check out this trailer!
Here is the plot for "ZAAT" courtesy of Wikipedia:
The film begins with Nazi mad scientist Dr. Kurt Leopold – it is revealed later in the film that he graduated cum laude from MIT in 1934 – in his lab, where he has lived alone for about twenty years. He is contemplating his former colleagues' laughter at his formula (described as "ZaAt" — read Z-sub-A, A-sub-T — but which he simply calls "Zaat"). His formula can turn a man into a walking catfish. He injects himself with the serum emerges from a tank as a giant fish-like creature.
His first act of revenge on society that he feels has wronged him is to release several smaller walking catfish around the town's lakes and river (filmed in the St. Johns River near Green Cove Springs), an annoyance to the townspeople, and releases Zaat into the local water supply, rendering many of the townspeople ill. Leopold decides to kill the colleagues that laughed at his work. He begins with a character named Maxson. In a lake where Maxson is fishing, Leopold swims under Maxson's boat, overturns it, and proceeds to kill Maxson and Maxson's son. Maxson's wife escapes, although she is in shock from the attack.
After killing Maxson, Leopold discovers a girl who is camping out alone on the shore of the lake. He approaches her, only to be deterred by her barking dog. The girl carries on with her business, unconcerned about the barking dog. Leopold retreats. Later, Leopold kills another colleague, Ewing.
His two colleagues now deceased, Leopold returns to the lake where the girl is still camping and waits for an opportunity to abduct her. His perseverance pays off when she strips down to a yellow bikini to go swimming. She dives into the lake, swimming carefree until Leopold catches her underwater. He swims with her to his lab, even as she struggles in vain to escape.
At the lab, the bikini-clad girl is lying strapped down in a basket next to the large tank of Zaat. She is unconscious, and Leopold reveals his intentions to make her his mate. Leopold injects Zaat into her neck. As she is immersed into a tank of Zaat, the girl wakes up and struggles against the ropes holding to a mesh basket. An unknown reason causes the equipment to malfunction, and her corpse, partially transformed, is pulled from the tank.
The movie strangely diverts from the storyline for approximately 10–15 minutes to show a lingering scene of the town sheriff Lou, watching a small group of youth playing religious folk music. After one of the youth (an acoustic guitarist, Jamie DeFrates, who also wrote the songs for the film) finishes leading the group in a song, the sheriff places them all in the town's jail, presumably for their own protection.
Leopold attempts to kidnap another mate: his choice is Martha Walsh, the lovely female member of a scientific team sent to investigate the weird happenings in the town (caused by Dr. Leopold). Leopold grabs her after her male counterparts leave her alone. Leopold takes her to his lab, but two of her companions (having unraveled the plot) are waiting there. Leopold kills them (including the town's sheriff Lou) violently. He injects her with Zaat, readies her to be dunked into the tank, and makes his getaway, with canisters of Zaat. Martha's transformation does not go as planned and she gets saved by one of her dying male companions from getting dunked in the tank as Leopold flees toward the ocean. Despite being saved from the transformation, she immediately follows Leopold trance-like into the sea. The movie ends ambiguously, with Leopold seen shot but not killed.
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