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Wednesday 23 October 2013

Burl reviews Zombies of Mora Tau! (1957)

Shambling toward you from out of the jungle dark, it’s Burl, here to review a tale of voo-doo zombification! Yes, I’m going to talk all about Zombies of Mora Tau, an oldie von moldie set in a studio-bound Africa so thoroughly colonialized that not a single African person is ever seen! Ha ha!
The setup is this: Jan, a young lady who left Africa as a girl, now returns to visit Granny, who has never budged from her coastal bungalow! But there’s zombie trouble brewing again, a problem for which only the old lady has the proper appreciation! At the same time some treasure hunters arrive to dive for the legendary lost diamonds, and since the zombies are the guardians of same, their restlessness is thereby accounted for!
These shamblers don’t bite, but prefer to give their victims a pretty stiff neck twist! Ha ha, they’re super-strong too, these zombies, which is a nice adjunct to the mythology! And this group of rotsmen, numbering about a dozen, was created in the late nineteenth century and have just been hanging around ever since, popping out of their oddly clean and spacious mausoleum when their diamonds are under threat of discovery! Granny shows off an impressive array of graves in which previous treasure hunters have been buried – it’s a pretty good scene, ha ha!
There’s a lot of deep-sea diving and some underwater zombie attacks – the divers are repeatedly pulled up from the depths covered in zombies! The mean lady played by Allison “Gunslinger” Hayes gets zombiefied somehow (the process, voo-doo based presumably, is never explained) and must be imprisoned within a cage of lit candles, as the zombies’ only fear is fire! Ha ha, a nice image, that! Meanwhile, Jan and the diver hero Jeff, played by Gregg  Billion Dollar Brain” Palmer, get their mitts on the diamonds, and, at Granny’s behest, toss them to Davy Jones’ Locker (in what looks like about three feet of water, ha ha!) so that the zombies, among whom is Granny’s husband, may finally find eternal rest! Meanwhile a professor played by Morris Ankrum, of Giant From the Unknown fame, stands around doing the same thing he’s done for the whole picture, which is nothing!
It’s a cheap little picture, much of which makes no sense; and it doesn’t have a fraction of the atmosphere found in a great movie like I Walked With A Zombie! (Ha ha, that one is one of ol’ Burl’s stone favourites!) But Zombies of Mora Tau looks moody enough, thanks to nice photography from Benjamin Kline, who also apparently worked on Edgar Ulmer’s Detour and Strange Illusion! I enjoy little programmers like this, and I’m going to give it two collapsing suits!

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