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Friday, November 17, 2017

Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)



Most of the zombie movies that I would cover for the horror dude blog were made after Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Before he reinvented the zombie genre the movies were really slow and had a bug-eyed walking corpse here or there. That doesn’t appeal to me, but there are some exceptions to that. The Zombies of Mora Tau is one of those movies.

The plot is very simple. There is a shipwreck off the coast of Africa that has a safe full of diamonds in it. Those gems were stolen from a temple or crypt, the movie is a bit vague on the details, and are guarded. When they were first looted ten of the crew died and soon returned as zombies to sink the ship and protect the diamonds. Now they are cursed and continue to rise from their graves to attack anyone trying to recover them. This brings us to the present.

Another crew shows up to recover the diamonds. They meet the local family, the Peters, who tries to warn them off. Specifically, Grandmother Peters who has a special connection to the curse. But they are far too greedy to be scared off so they dive and go after the gems. Along the way they lose some crew and the wife of the man financing the salvage operation. To complicate things further the diver of the crew, Jeff, is enamored with the youngest of the Peters family, Jan. She is just back from school and initially doesn’t believe in the zombies, but eventually is convinced and tries to get Jeff to stop the treasure hunt. This is a horror movie so you know the greed overwhelms common sense and bad things happen.

I don’t understand why more people aren’t fans of Zombies of Mora Tau. I get that after ’68 the zombie genre changed dramatically. But this is still a great movie and the zombies are very creepy. While they might not be trying to eat everyone they still are trying to kill. It is hinted that in some way the men are still aware and trapped inside the bodies suffering for what they did years ago which is disturbing. The scenes of the glassy eyed corpses rising from their coffins is very creepy and executed nicely. Whenever I watch the movie I remember the first time I saw it late at night with the lights off. Perhaps some nostalgia is in play, but I think it still works.

The zombies look good.
The cast is made up of many “B” actors including Gregg Palmer. He was in one of the best rubber tree demon movies ever, From Hell It Came! Ironically this was made the same year as his starring role in Zombies of Mora Tau. What a year that must have been for him. On a serious note, I noticed while researching this review that he had passed away. I had the chance to meet him and get an autographed lobby card for From Hell It Came and was sad to hear he had died.

I’m being kind of silly with the From Hell It Came praise, but Zombies of Mora Tau is a good movie. This isn’t what most would think of when it comes to this genre, but that is part of the fun. The fact that it plays more like a ghost story with the haunting of the wreck makes this an interesting and unique take on zombies. I recommend giving this one a chance. It is one of those gems from the ‘50s that gets overlooked.



© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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