Forgotten Films: Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)
This is the 84th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films
It’s October and that means TCM is showing some old and forgotten B horror films from the 1950’s. I saw this one listed and thought it sounded interesting enough that the DVR would puke on it so I recorded it.
The cast is respectable with Allison Hayes (ATTACK OF THE 50 FT WOMAN) playing the gold digger Mona, Gregg Palmer (FROM HELL IT CAME and 7 other titles in 1957 alone), Autumn Russell (in her seventh but first credited role), Joel Ashley (RUMBLE ON THE DOCKS) and more.
The story may sound familiar. A sailing crew finds a treasure and steals it from a native tribe. They get cursed, the ship gets sunk and they all become zombies. This time it is in Africa and not the Caribbean and there is no Jack Sparrow. There is Grandma Peters (Marjorie Eaton) who remembers the curse. Her husband was the captain of the crew and is one of the zombies. He has been one for 60 years. She wants the curse broken. She lives on a plantation in Africa with her servants. As the film begins, her granddaughter Jan (Russell) has returned home from school. On their way to the plantation the chauffeur runs over one of the zombies by the road. Jan does not know/believe the story and really wants to help the injured man but the driver prevents that.
Enter the Harrisons, George and Mona (Ashley and Hayes, respectively). He owns a salvage company and has hired Professor Eggert (Morris Ankrum) to tell him about the native diamonds the crew has lost when the SUSAN B sank 60 years ago. The diamonds are worth millions and the Harrisons both want them. To accomplish that they have brought in Jeff Clark (Palmer) to do the underwater work. Clark seems to be chasing every skirt as there had been something between him and Mona and he is now chasing Jan.
The only way to break the curse is to destroy the diamonds, scattering them across the sea floor where no one person can get them. But everyone except Grandma wants them.
Jan, still concerned about the run over zombie pedestrian, takes Jeff out to look for them. They find zombies and Jan does her best acting whenever she is screaming, which is a lot. They escape but no one really believes. Least of all Mona who gets captured and turned into one. George does not believe his eyes so he keeps her around. Warning: Zombies do not make good wives or pets!
It’s a relatively predictable film but not too bad. Running about 70 minutes. A lot shorter and less bloated than the Gore Verbinski title which was more than twice that length. Special effects were minimal here and did not distract from the film.
An interesting thing I noted. There is an intro card after the opening credits but before the action which somehow managed to incorporate the names of two future TV shows into it. The Twilight Zone and The Walking Dead were both phrases used on that card. This film is also known as THE DEAD THAT WALK. I am not sure I ever heard the name Mora Tau mentioned in the film.
Film also had some good music from Mischa Bakaleinikoff. IMDB says he was uncredited but I saw his name.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.