#45. The Blood Waters of Dr. Z

45. The Blood Waters of Dr. Z (1972) - Season 10, episode 1005

"Did I just hear a fish strangling a guy?"

Plot:  A Nazi scientist wants revenge on the world he feels has wronged him. So he creates a race of mutant fish-men to terrorize Florida.  
Famous for:  The infamous opening scene where the narrator waxes poetically about fish and their fish lives. Because closeup shots of a fish butt are exactly how you want to open your movie.

"Please enjoy a fish anus."

My favorite riff:  There's a hilarious sequence about ten minutes into the film, where the mad scientist is setting up one of his experiments. He's doing all these safety checks, and strapping himself into all these weird harnesses. And Mike and the Bots reel off the best string of masturbation jokes I have ever seen on this show. It's incredible.  

"Hmm, I think I've got everything. Oh wait. Nipple clamps. That's it."

"Should I perform horrible experiments? Or count my used tissues?"

"I need to simplify my masturbation ritual."

Comments:  The Blood Waters of Dr. Z is one of my favorite types of MST3k episodes - It's a weird little regional horror movie that some guy made because he wanted to inject some money into his local film industry. In this case, the particular city he wanted to highlight was Jacksonville, Florida.

Regional horror movies are one of those things that are going to show up a number of times on my favorite episodes countdown. And the reason why is because even though they're incredibly low budget, and even though they are almost always stupid and goofy, at the same time they have a strange way of actually being kind of charming. And better yet, they were NEVER big Hollywood movies. These weren't real movies, that starred real actors, that were made by filmmakers who actually knew what they were doing. These were just regional productions that were thrown together by a bunch of locals. Who just wanted to do something interesting for their local filmmaking community. Based on whatever materials and budget and talent they just had sitting around. And that's why I will never be that harsh when I'm talking about a movie like this. And of course, The Blood Waters of Doctor Z is a PERFECT example of a movie that fits all of these criteria. It's basically just a bunch of locals who are running around Jacksonville.

Movies like this are never good, but it's clear that somebody actually BELIEVED in them at some point. And to me that just makes them all sort of charming.

Cheap, of course. And shitty. But also charming.

Oh shit, Florida Man turned into a lilypad.

And of course, it would be irresponsible for me to not point out that Blood Waters of Dr. Z (under its original title, "Zaat") was actually pretty well known, long before Mystery Science Theater ever got their hands on it. As "Zaat", it was often considered one of the worst movies ever made. And again, this was long before it was ever riffed by Mike and the Bots. Zaat was a well known shitty movie going back to the early 70s. Elvira even featured it on her TV show that made fun of shitty movies way back in the mid 80s. And when Elvira is taking digs at your movie, you know that it's bad.

In other words, unlike Manos and The Final Sacrifice and Red Zone Cuba and some of the other obscure movies that MST3k has shone a spotlight on over the years, Zaat was never that obscure. This wasn't just some rando movie that the guys at Best Brains pulled out of a discount bin, this was long considered one of the best known, most terrible movies that had ever been made. In fact, I read somewhere that, to this day, they STILL hold yearly screenings of Zaat down in Florida, where people who love it can go and watch it on a big screen and make fun of it like it's Tommy Wiseau's The Room.

As for me personally? I happen to think that Blood Waters of Dr. Z is an awesome episode. And I'm always surprised to find that most MST3k fans don't tend to agree with me. For some reason Blood Waters never shows up on anyone's favorite MST3k episodes list. EVER. And I don't know why. It's really funny. In fact, in my opinion, it's basically a much funnier and much more watchable version of Manos. Because again, people already loved it, and already mocked it, and already made fun of it long before Mystery Science Theater got their mitts on it. Zaat was really Manos before there was ever a Manos.

"It's also got playful teen beach movie font!"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  I will forever love that dumb little car that the scientist drives at the end. I mean, seriously Zaat, what the hell? It's like they specifically put that car into the movie, just so MST3k would be able to riff on it twenty five years later. I see no other reason why it's there.

"I gotta get back to Camp Snoopy and connect this to the ride."

Trivia:  The Blood Waters of Dr. Z (aka "Zaat") has had a rocky legal history over the years, and for a long time it was nearly impossible to find a copy of it on DVD. According to Wikipedia, here's why:  

Cult television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured Zaat in a season 10 episode under the title Blood Waters of Dr. Z. The episode, which originally aired May 2, 1999, mocked the film's low-budget effects and general tepidity. Director Don Barton was reportedly annoyed with MST3K for mocking his movie, but later clarified that the only reason he was annoyed was because Syfy (then known as the Sci-Fi Channel) had failed to secure the proper rights to the film. Barton issued a cease and desist and a lawsuit, so Syfy pulled the episode. And they only reran it twice two years later, when they had cleared the issue with Barton out of court.  

Shout! Factory eventually released the MST3K episode on DVD, along with three others, on March 16, 2010 as part of Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Volume XVII, after managing to properly secure the rights. So Blood Waters of Dr. Z (aka Zaat) is now finally available to everyone.

Here's the film's original poster - from back in 1972

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