Monday 23 July 2007

Zombies of Mora Tau (1957) Edward L Cahn

Oh, this one reeked of outrageous B movie madness from the get go, but it disappointed even at that. Jan Peters is an all American girl but she grew up in the wilds of Africa and is now back for the first time in years. As the chauffeur drives her back to the house to see her droning crone of a great grandmother, he runs over an immobile seaweed covered zombie who was standing in the road, and Jan realises that nothing has changed since she was a kid.

Meanwhile on a boat offshore a gang of treasure hunters are planning what to do with the loot that they plan on retrieving from a local sunken ship called the Susan Bee and they're being plagued by the zombies too. Naturally it's the sailors from the Susan Bee who stole the jewels in the first place and quickly sunk to be cursed. Old great grandma is the widow of the captain.

I remember the stunning ineptitude of Uwe Boll's House of the Dead, which somehow managed to suggest that zombies are great swimmers but can't ever get off an island. At least this one starts out how it means to go on: these zombies swim and are great at pulling people off boats and breaking their necks. They're also great at keeping their clothes tucked in and completely undamaged after sixty years or however often they get shot; walking slowly and stupidly but with reflexes apparently quicker than mine; and even handling switchknives while flaring their eyes and bouncing candlesticks off their heads.

There are a couple of names here, though not very major ones and none of them are Gregg Palmer, the man at the top of the bill who made a lot of films, it seems mostly about the same quality as this. He's instantly forgettable, the only part of him of note being his hair which seems to have a life of its own. The leading lady isn't Jan Peters, played by Autumn Russell; it's Mona Harrison, played by Allison Hayes only a year before she became the 50 Foot Woman. She does sultry pretty well but doesn't have much more to work with beyond screaming on queue and bitching at the old lady, until she turns into a zombie, that is, but that's only because the wooden acting style works far better. The only other name I recognise is Ray Corrigan, another B movie veteran, of things like Crash of the Moons, and he's just a zombie crewman.

The sad thing about a film called Zombies of Mora Tau isn't that it's bad, because I was expecting it to be. It's that it's boring and that didn't have to be the case. I think there's definitely room for a swimming zombie film out there but House of the Dead wasn't it and neither was this. I did learn things like scattering something means dumping it all in the same place, and it's completely fine to forcibly carry someone off only to promise to bring them back later. Somehow they just don't cut it in a B movie world where Ed Wood logic is what's needed to make something bad and fun at the same time. This was just bad.

The saddest thing of all is that rating this only as low as Bad means that it's the best Edward L Cahn film I've rated, a whole point above such cinematic abortions as Invisible Invaders and It! The Terror from Beyond Space.

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