Zaat 

About all it takes is a big ol' syringe full of Re-Animator fluid, a dunk tank with electric cables, and a room full of primitive equipment resembling the games no one plays at Chuck E. Cheese.

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Zaat, a 1971 regional Z movie that no one was calling to be restored for and/or preserved on Blu-ray, but here you go, anyway.

The monster is supposed to be like a giant walking catfish, but looks more like a seahorse with facial paralysis. He walks around and swims underwater with a spray bottle, in order to turn other living things into his likeness. He also seeks a queen — aka an unwitting blonde in a bikini — to help him create a new aquatic race to conquer humanity. It's good to have a goal, and every King Kong needs a Fay Wray.

The sheriff (Paul Galloway, J.D.'s Revenge) is too lazy and slobbish to pose much of an obstacle; I bring him up only because if you close your eyes, he sounds just like John C. Reilly. Not until the orange-jumpsuited INPIT researchers are called in does anyone stand a chance against the monster, man.

Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 may have seen Zaat before and just not realized it, under the alternate title of Blood Waters of Dr. Z. Film Chest/Cultra’s cleanup job on the flick can’t improve the amateurish acting or direction (not that I’d want it to), but the label has done wonders with the picture. Now it bursts with primary colors so bright, they hurt your eyes. A helpful restoration comparison shows just how radical the changes are.

I love that we live in an age where movies so obscure and arguably undeserving of such a nice package get just that from Film Chest/Cultra (past winners include Poor Pretty Eddie and Carnival Magic). The combo pack includes the Blu-ray and DVD, plus trailers and a tinny-sounding commentary. Kudos to whoever designed the menu; my only complaint is that it is rather unresponsive to the remote. —Rod Lott

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Rod Lott

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