"Sargassum fish — mighty hunter of the deep. What an inspiration you have been in my plot."
Blood Waters of Dr. Z, also known as ZaAt, is a 1971 Sci-Fi Horror film directed by Don Barton.
It's about Dr. Kurt Leopold, a mad scientist who wants to get revenge on all those who thought he was silly for wanting to make a half-man, half fish. Using a chemical of his creation (the titular "ZaAt")note , he makes himself into his first test subject, and turns the local catfish huge and man-eating. Next steps: kill those who wronged him, and find a mate to breed the new race, and then conquer the universe.
Shot on location in, of course, Florida.
For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page. RedLetterMedia reviewed it as well, as did New York Daily News' Phantom of the Movies, a decade later in 1984. (It took that long for the film to reach the Times Square grindhouse theaters.)
Tropes present in The Blood Waters of Dr. Z include:
- Aliens in Cardiff: The world is threatened by a mutant in Green Cove Springs, Silver Springs and Switzerland (no, not that one), all towns in Florida.
- The Bad Guy Wins: ...Sort of. It's probably more accurate to say The Bad Guy Manages To Pull A No Score Draw.
- If getting the canisters to the ocean will mutate all sea-life then he did indeed succeed. We don't know if the bullets killed him, and also he got the girl... kind of.
- Blessed with Suck: Being turned into a fish probably wasn't worth the constant, wracking agony.
- Deep South: Especially the Sheriff.
- Dies Wide Open: The girl that Dr. Leopold, er, "punches" to death dies with her eyes open.
- Faint in Shock: Possibly the most egregiously unrealistic faint in cinema history: Near the end, the heroine faints when Dr. Leopold breaks into the cabin where they've set up shop. She manages to remain unconscious while being roughly carried through a hot, noisy, fetid swamp for several miles. Mystery Science Theater 3000's take on this:Crow: Apparently women are devoid of the "fight-or-flight" reflex.
- Gainax Ending:Servo: This film was the winner of Canne's Palme de Huh? award.
- Heroic BSoD: Martha gets kidnapped by the mad doctor, gets injected by the formula, narrowly avoids getting transformed into a fish-woman, and then afterwards she's not quite the same — zombielike, she follows the doctor into the ocean at the end.
- Large Ham: Dr. Leopold, at least before he becomes the fish-monster. Unfortunately, everyone else in the movie is the exact opposite.
- Leave the Camera Running: MST3K fans were lucky in that the televised version used for the show cut the first 15-20 minutes, which was nothing but Dr. Leopold walking around, checking equipment, and reading notes, and nothing else.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "I'm planning revenge on your friends..."
- Missing Steps Plan: Step One: Turn self into fish. Step two: Find lady on which to repeat the process so I can have a mate. Step three: Conquer the entire universe.
- No Ending: The movie just... ends ambiguously.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge: The sheriff can be viewed this way, as he calls his assistant Ben "boy." However, Ben was originally written for a white actor, and the sheriff takes a fatherly attitude (addressing white characters as "boy" too). It's evident that "boy" was written with the characters' relationship in mind, regardless of skin color, but YMMV on how uncomfortable the end result is.
- Non-Indicative Name: There is no Dr. Z. It could have been a mistaken case of the distributor thinking "ZaAt" was Dr. Leopard's name.
- One-Book Author: This is the only feature film made by director/writer Don Barton.
- Pan and Scan: The film was never intended to be viewed in 4:3, so television prints show that the walking-catfish Leopold is wearing sneakers.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Two of Leopold's victims are men who denied him permission to do his unethical experiments.
- Room Full of Crazy: Dr. Leopold's huge chart showing each phase of the years he spent on his Evil Plan to turn himself into a half-catfish hybrid.
- Schedule Fanatic: Say what you want about Doctor Leopold, he's meticulous and has EVERYTHING planned out on a huge chart on his wall. Almost makes you believe that he could conquer the universe through transforming himself into a fish. Almost. Can't stress that enough. (Or did he?)
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "World War Two Boy," sung over the beginning which is upbeat and catchy in contrast to the doughy, unimpressive evil scientist.
- Take Over the World: Through mutated walking catfish no less.
- They Called Me Mad!: "They think I'm insane... they're the ones who are insane!"
- Those Wacky Nazis: Leopold is an ex-Nazi, despite being obviously too young for it.
- Today, X. Tomorrow, the World!: Emphasized when Catfish!Leopold emphatically marks Florida with an "X" after infecting the water.
- Transhuman Treachery: Well, strictly speaking he was plotting against humanity before becoming transhuman.
- We Could Have Avoided All This: Walter's reaction to the sheriff finally telling them about Leopold's experiments much later than he could have.