Wednesday, March 3, 2010

'Zombies of Mora Tau' fails to live up
to its potential

Zombies of Mora Tau (aka "The Dead That Walk") (1957)
Starring: Gregg Palmer, Autumn Russell, Allison Hayes, Joel Ashley, Marjorie Eaton, Morris Ankrum and Gene Roth
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A group of callous treasure hunters and the residents of an isolated African farm are beset by swimming zombies protecting a treasure trove of cursed diamonds.

While watching "Zombies of Mora Tau" my mind repeatedly wandered to the work of another director who was turning out cheap horror movies in the 1950: Edward D. Wood. This is film is not that much better than "Bride of the Monster", making it one of many bits of evidence that whoever first decided it was cute to slander Wood with the "worst filmmaker ever" label was an ignorant twat.

"Zombies of Mora Tau" is a film with a weak script being performed by a cast who are actors in the sense they can hit their marks and deliver their lines but who otherwise seem fairly free of any actual talent for acting. It further suffers from the fact that the costume designers or make-up artists didn't have the creativity to make the zombies look even halfway interesting--even "White Zombie", which is borrowed from/paid homage to on a couple of occasions here, did a far better job at this, way back at the dawn of the zombie movie genre--and it didn't have the budget to actually make the cool idea of underwater zombie attacks look believable.

This is one of those movies that is brimming with potential, but it remains nearly entirely unrealized because of the incompetence of the filmmakers and the paltry budget they had to work with.

Almost despite itself, the film manages to mount a number of creepy moments, such as when the slutty femme-fatale wife of the captain of the salvage ship (played by Allison Hayes) rises from the dead as a zombie and then sets about to kill her former colleagues, including her husband. However, even the creepiest moment in the film is marred by cheapness and bad acting.

As bad as I think this movie is, I did keep watching it and not because I was wondering if it could get any worse. No, in this instance, I kept hoping it would get better, because I kept thinking, "Wow... this could be a really scary scene if there was some more blood here" or "Good actors could have made this actually seem as intense as it's supposed to be" and so on.

I'm sure anyone who likes zombie movies will have a similar reaction when viewing this film. It is so full of what-could-have-been material that it will feed the imagination of any but the most braindead horror fan. This quality, coupled with the laughably bad execution of just about everything present on screen, makes it a great movie to consider for inclusion in a Bad Movie Night.

It's a shame that the film industry only seems interested in remaking movies that were already good to begin with. If there's a movie that deserves to be remade, it's "Zombies of Mora Tau". You wouldn't even need a new script. With a few minor tweaks and a modern approach to executing the story, the existing script would be the perfect foundation for a kick-ass film. (It would need a enough of a budget for decent diving and underwater scenes, though. Just imagine: "Into the Blue" with zombies! How cool would THAT be?!)

1 comment:

  1. I saw the photo you posted above and had to do a double take; it looked like Mariah Carey to me for a second.