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Saturday, October 31, 2015

HubrisWeen 3, Day 26: Zontar, The Thing from Venus (1966)

Screenplay by Hillman Taylor and Larry Buchanan
Directed by Larry Buchanan

John Agar:  Dr. Curt Taylor
Susan Bjurman:  Ann Taylor
Tony Huston:  Keith Ritchie
Pat Delaney:  Martha Ritchie
Neil Fletcher:  General Matt Young

I think I should have gone with zombies instead. See, there's this thing about doing HubrisWeen--when you get to the last letter of the alphabet, you just kinda want things to be over. And you don't want to watch a zombie movie around this time, because they tend to be pretty similar to each other and after 25 movies in a row you'd prefer not to see stuff you're really familiar with. Which all makes a lot of sense, I hope, and you can see why I'd want to keep things as fresh as I could when I'm in the home stretch and wrapping the project up for another year.

On the other hand, that means watching a Larry Buchanan movie in lieu of something that might have been made by more talented directors, and I only have myself to blame for that one. And while I'm talking about blame, let me put this out before I kick the film around:  I understand that Larry Buchanan was working under ludicrous constraints while making this film--he got stuck remaking the Roger Corman alien-invasion movie It Conquered the World as a syndication-package TV movie in the mid-Sixties. That's not a recipe for greatness to start with (and the main reason he got the job is that American-International Pictures wanted to be able to sell color movies to TV networks as 4 AM time filler). But beyond the rushed shooting schedule and lack of reason for the movie to exist beyond "we can sell this to television stations just barely picky enough to want the movies to look newer" there's another problem. I can't remember where I heard this (though I expect it was from El Santo of 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting), but Buchanan was given lower budgets for his TV-movie remakes than Roger Corman spent a decade earlier making his movies. That figure isn't adjusted for inflation or anything--the budget for Zontar was lower, in absolute dollars, then the previous decade's black-and-white cheapie from notorious skinflint Roger Corman. How's it all work out in the end under such handicaps? Not particularly well...

Can I stop now? No? Okay, it's eighty minutes of pure delight, then. Here we go:

Stock footage of some radar dishes is captioned

United States orbital 
rocket control and 
tracking station.

It's almost a haiku. Inside, a woman at a radar screen reports a UFO in the "launch area" and a really thin guy in a lab coat says that area should have been cleared out earlier. Turns out to be a false alarm; a passenger plane wandered into the no-fly zone accidentally and the launch of whatever it is that's supposed to go up into orbit can proceed. 

Dr. Curt Taylor, the man in charge of the "laser satellite" launch, muses that their project is finally going to be ready in less than three minutes when the rocket goes up when a secretary says there's someone to see him. It's got to be important to interrupt him now, Another scientist, Keith Ritchie, tells Dr. Taylor that the launch can't proceed and that he's warned the government about that several times. Nice job waiting until two minutes till go time to come back and flip out about everything now, man.

Ritchie says he knows why the previous laser satellite blew up in orbit; the other civilizations of the universe didn't want the people of Earth to have one. He is apparently waiting till this second to tell anyone about the actual reason that satellite exploded and doesn't have any proof that his version of events is what actually went down. According to Ritchie the other planets don't want Earth communicating because that would make us too advanced and that they'd prefer us ignorant and more easily controlled. While he's ranting about this the rocket he was trying to abort gets launched, and the main title fills the screen over flickering stock footage of the spacecraft going up.

B movie stalwart John Agar gets first billing, so it looks like his name was still big enough for it to be a selling point for a film. That's got to be neat, even if the film is a cheap and shoddy-looking affair like this one (where Mission Control for NASA is four people in a room full of cardboard mainframes). And it looks like those aliens are minding their own business for the time being, because the satellite doesn't explode--at least not during the opening credits. There is a flying saucer moving over the face of the Earth right before we go back to the narrative, though (or that's supposed to be the laser satellite), but it doesn't do anything.

Three months later, over dinner, Keith and Dr. Taylor have a conversation that proceeds to drop exposition on the audience like a dump truck full of Jell-O. The satellite is working, hasn't been blown up by alien forces, and the two men's wives are tired of them talking shop all the time. Hey, if I had the opportunity to talk about laser satellites I'd never turn it down. Sorry, honey, you're going to be hearing about them for a long time. Keith says that he knows something secret and hugely important, and he's breaking a promise (made to someone, I guess) not to talk about it when he spills it to Dr. Taylor. Turns out he's got a space radio that fills an entire closet, and it's picking up "laser communication" from Venus without a satellite. Which, uh, doesn't make a huge amount of sense to me. A satellite around Earth wouldn't be necessary to communicate with Venus (or maybe Keith is saying that he doesn't need a gigantic receiving station in order to get static directly from the second planet in the solar system).

Keith says there's a voice underneath the static, and Dr. Taylor can't make anything out. So either there's a big communications rig in the Ritchies' closet that is in psychic contact with Keith or he's just listening to random noise and thinking that he's able to talk to some kind of life on Venus. To hear Keith say it, he's been hypnotised by the Venusian intelligence (which he says is masculine, and that the closest Terran equivalent to his name is "Zontar"). Why are the aliens in these things never named Steve? The phone rings seconds after Keith drops the name Zontar and the space facility calls Dr. Taylor to say that the laser satellite has disappeared. He's got to bail on the after-dinner conversation and go back to work.

Once Keith's alone, he talks to himself about Zontar's imminent arrival on Earth--apparently he's hijacked the laser satellite to use as a vehicle to get here. Which doesn't make a huge amount of sense, Earth and Venus are different distances from each other at various times (both planets' orbits are ellipses instead of perfect circles), but a rough estimate of the average distance between the two planets is 93,500,000 miles. The typical satellite orbits 22,500 miles up. So whatever Zontar's using for transportation, it gets him 99.9999 percent of the way to Earth and then he's got to thumb a ride with a communications satellite to make it the rest of the way down. I'm not saying that's a stupid way to do things, but...okay, I am saying that's a stupid way to do things. The satellite's not designed to come back to Earth. I'm not sure exactly what Zontar's supposed to be doing with it in order to ride it down to where he can talk to Keith face-to-pseudopod but that's his plan.

Back at the space facility, General Matt Young drives up in a blue-for-night scene so he can harangue the scientists about how the laser satellite is lost, and they need to find that sucker now. Back at his place, Keith is listening to some public-domain piano chords on his gigantic hi-fi and telling his wife that everything's going to be all right once Zontar puts in an appearance. While Dr. Taylor is there at Mission Control the satellite gets back into communications with the computers, and Taylor says they have to bring it down in order to diagnose the problems (!), which shouldn't be a problem because it's not like the Earth's atmosphere would turn it into glowing slag and vapor on the way down or anything. If the alien's using that to hitch a ride to Keith's place I hope he's actually Zontar, the Thing from Krypton. It also beggars my imagination to think that people could pull a satellite down in order to take it to the garage and do a quick repair job, then put it back up into orbit. It stopped working in 1963, but Telstar I is still in orbit right now. It's just not cost effective to take them back down to Earth and fix 'em; instead, they put new satellites in orbit when the old ones need to be replaced.

I'm guessing that anyone willing to watch this sucker in 1966 would realize that Zontar's plan would have to get smarter to just be idiotic, but it appears to be working. Keith is talking to his space radio telling Zontar that he's the alien's only friend on Earth and that nobody else believes in him. Or he's holding up his end of a hallucinatory conversation with nobody. His wife Martha asks him to come to bed and he says that Zontar's plan was even goofier than I thought--the Venusian hijacked the laser satellite, brought it to Venus, got on board, and set it back down right where it was supposed to be in orbit around the Earth in under sixty minutes. Any longer and Keith's Space Pizza would have been free. According the Keith, Zontar is going to save humanity from its own worst instincts (which should work out just fine, right?), and that the greatest day in history is about to dawn.

Martha says he's really got to snap out of his fantasy world (so she hasn't heard Zontar yet either) and that getting some sleep is really a good idea. She's a woman, though, so she's wrong. Zontar does totally exist and he's Keith's friend! Keith also says he's decided that Zontar's presence on Earth is going to be for good rather than ill, and that he was worried about what the first contact with alien life would wind up being for years. I'm sure no technologically superior entity would turn out to be evil, though, so the rest of the movie will just be about every nation learning to live in harmony with the new technological bounty supplied by Zontar.

Oh, right, Cold War. Can't trust the alien who says he's bringing gifts.

Turns out that flickering-light UFO thing from earlier is supposed to be the laser satellite, I guess, because they cut from it to Keith asleep in an easy chair listening to his atonal static jazz stuff on the Space Radio. Martha covers him with a blanket and goes back to bed herself. And back at Mission Control the general is there to supervise the retrieval of the laser satellite and give the final order to bring it down to Earth. I guess that means NASA is a military operation in this movie? I'm guessing that instead of doing research, Larry Buchanan had access to an Air Force general's uniform so the script was written to accommodate that. The scientists at Mission Control try to guide the satellite down to Earth but it's not responding to their commands (including the command to put it back in orbit rather than risk destroying it on the way back down). They lose contact with the satellite completely while trying to get it to work, which means someone's got to explain to the President that they broke their several-hundred-million-dollar piece of hardware while trying to bring it down so they could fix it.

Back at Keith's place he tells his wife that Zontar landed the, requisitioned...satellite in a nearby cave. Martha thinks he sounds like a lunatic when he talks about Zontar bringing a new era of peace and prosperity to Earth (perhaps talking to Martha on the Space Radio as well could have helped with that). And when Keith talks to his Venusian ham radio pal again he says the cave is a half a dozen miles away from his house. Looks like he's gonna splash on some Aqua Velva for a good first impression and go talk to the alien. Zontar picked a cave with hot springs in it so that he wouldn't get homesick for Venus' temperatures hot enough to boil lead on the planet's surface. Sounds legit.

A baffling montage of stock footage (a train stopping on a track, someone working an adding machine, power lines, a construction worker in a cherry-picker and Dr. Taylor's car stalling out) ensues. Back at Mission Control the same four or five people that are always there can't get the computer or phones to work. I assume Zontar's pulling some kind of "Day the Earth Stood Still" trick to announce his presence intentionally, but it could be an unintended side effect of his arrival on Earth. Ann Taylor says her watch and the clock in the car both stopped at the same time the engine stalled out; a couple of random dudes on the street somewhere else tell each other all kinds of electronic devices are now failling to work. When Martha walks into frame the two random dudes ask her what's going to happen next, since her husband predicted this was going to take place (which is news to the viewer); Martha says she just doesn't know and walks out of frame.

Back at his place, Keith is leading off a list of leaders that Zontar presumably will want to be taken to. He's starting small, with the mayor and police chief of Jackson, Texas. General Young and Dr. Taylor also make the list as well as all the various men's wives. According to Keith if those eight people are taken under Zontar's influence, the alien will have total control over the greater Jackson metropolitan area. And the ominous questions about "control devices" and "injectopods" that Keith asks the Space Radio make me think that Zontar's got to be one persuasive alien mental force in order to convince Keith that his intentions are benevolent.

Right after that Bob Newhart routine about the injectopods, we get a glimpse of Zontar (in the dark, filmed too close to make out any details) and then footage of crowds of people running in panic. Literally "footage" because the camera doesn't show anybody above the knee. I'm guessing it's panic on the streets of Jackson because of the power outages (including a woman who needs help operating her husband's iron lung) and Keith tells his wife Zontar's upgraded their ration card so their car will run while nobody else's will. Meanwhile (there's a lot of "meanwhile" in this film) Dr. Taylor and his wife are walking to the Ritchies' house and they see a flying lobsterbat looking creature that Dr. Taylor throws a stick at out of revulsion. I'm guessing that's the injectopod. 

Back at the Ritchie place, Keith tells his wife that all the various power sources in Jackson are shut down other than anything he's personally using--not just electricity, but running water as well! When Martha turns on the garden hose to prove that water is still flowing in the area her husband says Zontar likes him so much he can still water his lawn when nobody else can. It's good to be on the winning side, isn't it? The Taylors show up and ask for a ride to a garage so they can arrange a tow for their car, but Keith offers them a drink instead. He hints that there's plenty of time to explain what's going on and possibly even enough time for Dr. Taylor to understand things and see them his (and, by implication, Zontar's) way.

Back at the command center, some Odious Comic Relief gate guards are looking at some kind of pinup model Viewmaster thing when one of the scientists asks if they've heard anything from the military command structure. The general had to walk back to his own headquarters in order to start work on the response plan, and without telephones or radios working there's no way for him to tell anyone else what to do or what's going on. According to the scientist, even the hand crank for the generator won't work, which means Zontar can selectively overwrite the laws of physics rather than just setting up some kind of localized EMP field to screw up electronics. It also means that woman's husband in the iron lung is probably dead by now.

Hey, the general's out walking to the headquarters even as we speak! He sees one of those lobsterbat things and immediately draws his sidearm to shoot it (well, the movie does take place in Texas). He's a lousy shot and winds up getting bitten on the back of the neck by the creature. It appears to be some kind of alien lobsterbatbee thing because it dies as soon as it stings or bites the general; he kicks some dead leaves over its body and sets off on his walk again.

Back at the Ritchie household Dr. Taylor is telling his friend he doesn't believe any of this selective-power-failure stuff, and without hearing news reports of that happening, I guess I wouldn't believe it either. Two stopped clocks and a car stalling out don't exactly add up to a world-threatening power exerting its influence and that's all the Taylors have seen so far. In a way, Zontar making sure his Renfield is comfortable works against Keith's plausibility. Keith says he's not just Zontar's first underling on Earth, but that he was the one who first contacted Venus (which I don't think is too terribly likely). Keith thinks that mankind is too stupid to trust and too dangerous to leave alone; Zontar will be able to save humanity from its own worst impulses and bring about an era of peace and plenty for everyone.

Dr. Taylor says anyone offering that much for nothing might not be inherently trustworthy, and asks for a ride back to the lab so he can do some science. Keith won't drive him there because it's a waste of time going to a lab where none of the equipment is going to function, but is polite enough to drive Curt and Ann back home. Martha tries none-too-gently to break it to her husband that Dr. Taylor still doesn't believe any of this Zontar nonsense and Keith says that she really needs to get with the program before Zontar gets mad. Then he talks to the Venusian on his Space Radio and sets Dr. Taylor up for a meeting with an injectopod, warning Zontar that the scientist is hard-headed and they might need an extra-strength brain parasite to take him over. But it'll be worth it to have such a top-notch scientist under Zontar's influence.

The General comes back to Mission Control and tells the two gate guards that he's the new commander of the Jackson area, which is under martial law. I don't know how much two dudes with rifles that won't shoot (Zontar presumably can prevent the gunpowder from burning if he can stop a hand-cranked generator from providing power) are going to do, or even how the general is supposed to give orders to anyone if he's limited to the technology of yelling to get information out. He tells the gate guards that they'll be abandoning the facility and carrying stuff off to a new location via a forced march. That's going to make him popular with the boys.

When the general gets into the computer room he tells the scientists that there's a Communist uprising in Jackson, Texas and that it's some kind of Soviet superweapon that has prevented anything electronic from working. The general says there's a special courier that got to him since the phones and radios are down, and that all four of the scientists on staff will be confined to the base (andwon't even be allowed to leave the computer room!) until the emergency passes. For their own good, of course. Can't have Soviets taking advantage of their cleverness. Or letting them go to the bathroom, I guess.

At the Taylor place, nothing works--the phone's dead and the lamps don't work. Curt thinks that Keith is still talking nonsense with this Zontar stuff, and that just because their car stalled out doesn't mean there's an alien from Venus that turned off their refrigerator. He's honestly got a point. And hey, speaking of Keith, he's talking to Zontar again and finding out that there's going to be a twelve-hour delay before Zontar can grow eight more lobsterbats to go bite people and turn them into his mind slaves. So Keith's job is to hang out by the Space Radio and wait for further instructions. Meanwhile, everyone's trying to leave Jackson on foot (an excuse for more crowds-running-around footage). Fire engine sirens and bells play out over the footage, which might mean Zontar missed a spot or that Larry Buchanan doesn't know what he's doing. Curt tries to find out what's happening from a panicky guy running past but that guy would rather flee than explain.

Curt says he's got to go to the Mission Control center (and will be taking a bicycle, which shouldn't work if Zontar is shutting down strictly mechanical devices). Then a lobsterbat attacks the police chief while he's pushing a stalled car out of the street and one more mind slave joins the ranks (which doubles Zontar's forces, not counting Keith; he's a true believer rather than a forced convert). The first thing the chief does is pull a gun on the newspaper editor, saying that the Jackson Times-Herald-Star-Telegraph-Tribune-Daily-Enterprise-Review-Chronicle-Journal-Register-Gazette is no longer needed in the new world. The journalist stands his ground so the cop stands his ground according to Texas state law and shoots the dude in cold blood. 

Dr. Taylor happens to bicycle by and witness the crime. He demands to know why the police chief did what he did, and finds out that Zontar's giving the orders now. The cop says that Dr. Taylor needs to be taken into protective custody, just like that room full of rocket scientists on the base. Dr. Taylor punches the cop but doesn't get shot--turns out Zontar has him on the "convert" list rather than the "kill" one. The chief tells Curt that he can run but he won't get away, and lets him go. 

Back at the Ritchie place, Keith comes in from an afternoon's birdwatching (he was hoping to catch a glimpse of an injectopod, and his enthusiastic explanation of what they are and where they come from makes him sound like a complete goddamned lunatic). It's pretty amusing, and I'll take my enjoyment where I can get it with this movie. He also tells his wife that "victims" is not the preferred term for the people who get bitten by an injectopod and have Zontar overwrite their brains to turn them into his agents on Earth and extensions of his personality and will. Keith doesn't say what the preferred word is, mind you, but that Zontar's a little sensitive about calling his victims "victims". Martha gives one of those Fifties science fiction movie speeches about the need for human self-determination and the value of emotions rather as opposed to submitting to an authoritarian overlord (and kudos to Larry Buchanan for giving that comeback to a woman rather than shoehorning another male character in to give the political message). 

When Dr. Taylor gets to the base, General Young offers him a lift to the new location where everyone's been moved for their own safety. That's "lift", as in "this guy has a working Jeep when nothing else is moving that Zontar hasn't personally authorized". Taylor doesn't put two and two together on this until he's already in the passenger seat, though, because he is a Professor of Smartology. Then he spots the implant in the back of the general's neck, judo-chops him unconscious and steals the Jeep (which Zontar will be able to track by virtue of keeping it running, not that Taylor knows that). He drives to Keith's place and says he's decided that Zontar is real, and that Keith is an accessory to murder. Keith goes onto a rambling explanation about how Zontar's race used to live on Venus but the other Venusians that they used for bodies (apparently Zontar and his ilk were creatures of pure intellect) died out. Now they need a new planet full of host bodies and Earth is the next one over in the solar system, so they've decided to move in.

Keith thinks that humanity needs Zontar to keep its impulses in check, and that with Venusian intelligences running the show there won't be any more greed or hatred and science will be allowed to flourish. Taylor counters with the Truth Bomb that humanity has figured out some pretty boss stuff on its own like X-ray medicine and Tang, and that we did it completely without Zontar helping out. Then, proving his political acumen, Curt tells Keith that he'll fight against Zontar (and Keith, who is much closer) rather than submit to the new order. Considering he knows the penalty for getting in Zontar's way is death, that's very brave but perhaps not so smart. He also calls Keith the worst traitor in human history and storms out. Martha storms in and tells Keith in her big speech that she can't love him any more because he's become a monster, and then they hug (huh?).

Zontar picks that moment to call Keith up and the guy requests a face-to-face meeting with his overlord because he's starting to have second thoughts about this whole "willing accomplice to the takeover of humanity" thing. I'm sure that's going to work out fine for him. Curt bikes back home to find Ann waiting for him (she says she just took a shower, which might mean she's been Zontarred and feathered because nobody else has working water power). Yup, she's an alien mind slave, and chucks a dragonbat at her husband, who stabs it to death with a fireplace poker in a sequence too thrilling to show as anything other than closeups of John Agar as he flails around. His phone rings the second the injectopod kicks the oxygen habit, with Keith telling his friend that he's got the only working phone in town. Well, other than the one Dr. Taylor is speaking into, of course. 

Keith wants to try talking Dr. Taylor into joining Team Zontar willingly again (or at least that's what he says over the phone), cluing Curt into one of the Venusian's weaknesses--he can only grow and send out so many injectopods at one time, so Taylor's going to be safe for a little while until Zontar's able to make another attempt to ream his brain out via monster bite. Taylor, looking at the sidearm he got from General Young, says he'll be right over (driving his wife's car, with Zontar's permission). Keith gets his marching orders:  he's got to kill Dr. Taylor in order to protect Zontar's plan to take over the world. Back at the Taylor place, Curt shoots his wife rather than see her continue to exist as part of Zontar's overmind (which I did not see coming, and which is actually almost affecting thanks to John Agar's performance).

But enough of that shit involving the main characters, let's listen to soldiers sitting around griping about how they don't know what they're supposed to be doing while in a crappy blue-for-night scene! Then it's back to the Ritchie residence for Martha to chastise Keith again for voluntarily working with Zontar! Martha asks her husband what Zontar is really like, and we get the same exposition this time that we've already had before. Zontar lives in a cave by a hot spring; he grows eight injectopods at a time and uses them to mentally dominate four key men in an area and their wives (because that makes the men more tractable). We also learn that the mayor of Jackson and his wife were killed in the evacuation (how Martha knows this when no news has been broadcast to her, the newspaper publisher was shot dead, and she hasn't left the house at all is a mystery for the ages).

Meanwhile, back at Mission Control, the scientists are getting back to work at the office and Louise stumbles across the two dead lobsterbats used to take over her colleagues' minds. She winds up getting strangled by one of the rocket scientists (since there isn't a spare injectopod to take care of her). And back with the Ritchies, Keith tells his wife she might want to go for a walk while Curt comes over to get murdered. She gives Zontar a piece of her mind via Space Radio, telling the Venusian that she's going to kill it when she gets a chance. Then Curt shows up for his meeting with Keith and Martha takes the gun from her car's glove compartment (insert Texas joke here), then drives off to find Zontar's cave and turn him into a good Venusian.

Dr. Taylor shows up for his meeting with Keith and threatens to kill his friend, telling the other man that it's his very desires to help the world that Zontar took advantage of. Keith says he needs to think about it, but it's starting to sink in. Maybe. If we're lucky. While Martha drives off to try and pull a Jack Ruby on Zontar she passes by the soldiers who are complaining about being hungry (and who don't consider the one car they've seen all day to be one of those suspicious things they were supposed to watch out for).

Martha gets to the correct cave and wanders around, with her scene intercut briefly with Dr. Taylor threatening to kill Keith. Her scream when she sees the alien (which looks just as stupid in the film as it does on that poster) is broadcast via Space Radio to Keith, who finally realizes that throwing in with the alien mind-control parasite might not have been the best possible thing he could be doing for humanity. She makes a really lethargic escape attempt but somehow Zontar gets in front of her. It turns out that bullets don't hurt Zontar (or at least the handgun isn't powerful enough to do the job) and Keith listens to the Venusian overlord kill his wife. And now he's willing to take Zontar out and save the world.

Curt gets his mission to go back to Mission Control to do something with the mind-controlled scientists while Keith takes a light-up sex toy out of the Space Radio closet, claiming it's self-developed laser capable of killing Zontar. He also neatly sews up a dangling plot thread by telling Dr. Taylor that he's so good at laser physics that the goofball prop he's holding is the way he contacted Venus before building the Space Radio--it's how he originally got in touch with Zontar. Whatever. Any ending is a good ending at this point. One of the soldiers sees Zontar in the cave and shoots it to new effect, then tries to tell his sergeant what's up. The sergeant says he doesn't have any orders concerning monsters and they all leave. With bare moments left to the film's running time, suddenly things start happening. The general is taking a briefcase bomb to his meeting with the President to blow himself up and create a power vacuum in the nation for Zontar to exploit! (Why the plan wasn't for him to just wait a day and bring eight injectopods with him, I don't know, but this means there's time pressure for Dr. Taylor to do something). He shoots the scientists and General Young as soon as he walks in the door and the general sets the self-destruct for Mission Control off, I guess, because stuff starts smoking and sparking right as Dr. Taylor runs out.

Back at the cave, the soldiers get orders to fix bayonets and start poking holes in Zontar. Keith speeds to the cave and gets stopped by the police chief, who shoots first (but gets wiped out by Keith's laser gun / adult novelty). The soldiers kill the narrative by walking slowly through the cave and eventually get to Zontar so they can lose the fight and prove that it's impervious to bullets, but Keith zaps it to death with his Cosmic Rod at the cost of his own life. And John Agar doesn't do as well with the awesome wrapup speech from the original Corman movie that I was looking forward to from about the ten minute mark on. But hey, that means I don't have to watch this any more.

"Plodding" is the best term I think I could use to describe this film, though "padded" and "redundant" also fit. It''s just kinda there, taking up space on the screen, running through its time, which is exactly what it was meant to do when AIP had it made for its television syndication packages back in 1966. I doubt anyone involved with the film remembered it fondly and even among aficionados of B movies it's not got much of a reputation. Sure, it's a movie that starts with a Z and doesn't include zombies, but that's really all I can say about it. And after two bakers' dozens of movies to review in a single month that isn't enough to make it distinctive or interesting. I've barely got anything to say about it at all besides "it was in color and John Agar makes a decent Peter Graves substitute". It's enough to make you realize how much Roger Corman brought to even the cheapest and fastest-made films in his canon, and how little Larry Buchanan brought to the table when redoing the same concept.

We have reached the end of HubrisWeen 2015! Thank you all for reading my gibberish, and I hope you stick around for the next movies I review on the Checkpoint (after taking a couple weeks off, because the last thing I want to do right now is pop another disc into the PC and start critiquing). Click on that banner to see what the other four participants chose to watch for their final film in the marathon.

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