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Edward L. Cahn
Gregg Palmer, Allison Hayes, Autumn Russell
Writing Credits:
Bernard Gordon

Zombie-like, dead crewmen of a sunken ship have always prevented salvagers from claiming the wreck's legendary box of diamonds, but will a new group of treasure hunters succeed?

Rated NA.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 69 min.
Price: $99.95
Release Date: 9/14/21
Available as Part of “Cold War Creatures” Four-Film Collection

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Kat Ellinger
• Introduction by Film Historian Kim Newman
• “Atomic Terror” Visual Essay
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Zombies of Mora Tau [Blu-Ray] (1957)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 14, 2021)

Ever since George Romero redefined the genre with 1968’s seminal Night of the Living Dead, zombie movies tend to take place in fairly “common” locations. Prior to that, though, these tales usually landed in more exotic climes, and that becomes the case for 1957’s Zombies of Mora Tau.

Near the coast of the African island Mora Tau, a ship loaded with treasure sank decades earlier. Though many attempted to recover this fortune, the zombie-like crew of the vessel prevented that.

A new set of treasure hunters arrives, as wealthy American George Harrison (Joel Ashley) brings a team headed by deep-sea diver Jeff Clark (Gregg Palmer). They deal with the threat of the zombie seamen as they attempt to excavate the loot.

This Blu-ray for Mora Tau comes as part of a four-film collection that provides films produced by Sam Katzman. Though that represents a tiny fraction of Katzman’s work, Mora Tau offers the second zombie-focused flick of the four, as 1955’s Creature with the Atom Brain covered these characters as well.

However, Mora Tau gives us a much more traditional take on the genre. Whereas the zombies of Atom Brain were created by science, those in Mora Tau come with a more standard supernatural influence.

Though apparently this doesn’t mean Mora Tau lacked innovation. According to film historian Kim Newman, this became the first instance in which zombies created zombies via bites/infection, as previously, zombies came into existence only through voodoo.

Innovations aside, the question becomes whether or not Mora Tau holds up as a movie more than six decades later. Because I liked Atom Brain, I hoped this one would entertain as well.

Unfortunately, Mora Tau seems less enchanting. While it gives us a few decent twists, the end result lacks much creativity and just comes across as a bit leaden.

Whereas Atom Brain brought some good story and character beats, Mora Tau tends to feel like something in the Creature from the Black Lagoon vein. That occurs mainly because an awful lot of Mora Tau revolves around the seemingly endless need for screechy, attractive women to get rescued from the encroaching menace.

A guy can only take so much of this “damsel in distress” material before it gets old, and Mora Tau crosses that threshold less than halfway into its story. The film fails to generate many compelling characters, so we wind up less than engaged in the action.

I do like Marjorie Eaton as Mrs. Peters, the elderly woman who relates the story of the zombie seaman and who conveys most of the movie’s exposition. Eaton adds enough impact and bite to her cliché part that she brings life to her scenes.

Otherwise, Mora Tau seems fairly forgettable. As far as 1950s horror flicks go, I’ve seen worse but it still remains a lackluster entry.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Zombies of Mora Tau appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Most of the image looked pretty good.

Sharpness usually appeared solid. Some shots displayed a bit of softness, but those examples seemed modest and came with some clumsy dissolves. The majority of the flick came across as reasonably detailed and distinctive.

I noticed no issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained mild. Grain seemed somewhat heavy but still natural. Print flaws showed a few small marks and nothing more.

Blacks looked deep and firm, and contrast appeared good. The low-light shots demonstrated solid clarity and definition, with no issues connected to excessive opacity other than in some awkward “day for night” shots. This turned into a mostly appealing image.

As for the movie’s LPCM monaural soundtrack, it seemed more than adequate for its age. The lines remained perfectly intelligible and suffered from no real concerns, with good clarity and fairly natural tones.

Music was fairly bright and clear, while effects came across as acceptably concise. Nothing here excelled, but the mix sufficed.

A few extras pop up here, and we get an audio commentary from film historian Kat Ellinger. She offers a running, screen-specific discussion of story and characters, cast and crew, aspects of the zombie genre and its history, themes and interpretation, and related topics.

Here we get more of a critical view of the film and its genre than a take on the production, so don't expect to learn much about the movie's creation. When Ellinger sticks with aspects of the zombie genre, the commentary works, but her attempts to give insights into Mora Tau seem less compelling because it just doesn't feel like an especially deep tale. Still, this is generally a pretty good chat.

We can view the film with or without an Introduction by Film Historian Kim Newman. In this seven-minute, 35-second piece, we get some info about the film and its genre. Newman brings us a good chat, though it falters as an intro for new viewers because it includes spoilers.

Next comes Atomic Terror, a 19-minute, 48-second “visual essay” from critic Josh Hurtado. He discusses the way producer Sam Katzman adapted horror tropes for the 1950s climate. He gives us a worthwhile overview of these films.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with an Image Gallery. It presents 29 elements that mix publicity stills with shots from the production. Expect a decent compilation.

As a genre entry, Zombies of Mora Tau never quite kicks into gear. Despite a few intriguing elements, the movie mostly relies on standard horror tropes and it fails to turn into anything memorable. The Blu-ray brings mostly good picture and audio as well as a mix of bonus materials. Though not a bad fable, Mora Tau doesn’t do much for me.

Note that Mora Tau comes only as part of a four-film package called “Cold War Creatures”. In addition to Mora Tau, it brings three other movies from producer Sam Katzman: Creature with the Atom Brain, The Werewolf and The Giant Claw.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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