Short Takes: Z

Zombeavers (2014)

Producers: Evan Astrowsky & Chris Lemole & Tim Zajaros and Chris Bender & Jake Weiner & JC Spink
Director: Jordan Rubin
Screenwriters: Al Kaplan & Jordan Rubin & Jon Kaplan

Three sorority sisters go to a cabin in the woods to get away from their boyfriends. Unfortunately, toxic waste has been dumped in the river and now the beaver population has turned into zombies. Luckily, the boyfriends show up so there are more people to kill.

This film features strong dialog and good acting. The story’s pretty standard and the college students are at least as annoying as real college students. It’s clearly meant for a high school audience. More discerning audiences should check out Killer Pi├▒ata.

Starring Rachel Melvin (Madtown), Cortney Palm (The Dark Tapes), Lexi Atkins (Accidentally Engaged), and Rex Linn (Cliffhanger). Bill Burr has a small role.

Zombeavers is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

1 December 2020

Zombie (1979)

Producers: Ugo Tucci & Fabrizio De Angelis
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Elisa Briganti
Alternative titles: Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters

A boat floats into New York with nothing but a zombie onboard. The daughter of the boat’s owner goes searching for him with the help of an interested reporter. They make it to an island where everyone is turning into zombies.

This is a solid zombie picture with Fulci’s usual eye for brilliant visuals. It has two particularly notable scenes. One is an underwater fight between a zombie and a tiger shark. The other is of a woman’s eye being being impaled on a large wooden splinter. If nothing else, look up those scenes on YouTube!

Starring Mia’s sister Tisa Farrow (Fingers) and Ian McCulloch (Survivors). With Al Cliver (Endgame), Auretta Gay, Richard Johnson (The Haunting), and Olga Karlatos (Murder Rock).

Zombie is under copyright. It is available on DVD with a couple of minor extras. It is available on a single Blu-ray with a commentary with Ian McCulloch and an introduction by Guillermo del Toro. It is on a two-disc Blu-ray that adds a ton of interviews with people who worked on the film. And it is on a three-disc Blu-ray that comes with all that plus a commentary with writer Troy Howarth and a CD of the music.

Zombie Cop (1991)

Producer/Director: JR Bookwalter
Screenwriters: Matthew Jason Walsh (story: Bookwalter)

Somewhere in the suburbs, a couple of cops try to arrest Dr Death, a voodoo drug dealer. One of the cops dies while killing the Bad Doctor, but they both rise up. The zombie cop and the living cop team back up to send the doctor to hell where he belongs.

A lot of people love this film. It doesn’t work that well for me. Maybe it’s the very suburban setting for what should be an urban film. Maybe it is the marginally racist voodoo element. I don’t know. But like I said, people love it, so give it a try!

Starring Michael Kemper (Robot Ninja), Ken Jarosz (Maximum Impact), and James Black (Ozone).

Zombie Cop is under copyright. It is available on DVD with the Maximum Impact as part of the Bad Movie Police series.

Zontar: The Thing From Venus (1966)

Director: Larry Buchanan
Screenwriters: Hillman Taylor and Larry Buchanan

A great but naive scientist welcomes a space alien that looks like The Incredible Melting Man (1977) with wings. But the alien’s intentions are not honorable.

This is a rip-off of It Conquered the World (1956). If you can get past the Cold War propaganda of it, it’s a fun ride. John Agar (The Mole People) as the sensible older scientist is wonderful, as usual.

Featuring: Tony Huston (writer of Curse of the Swamp Creature), Pat Delany (Creature of Destruction), and Susan Bjurman.

Zontar: The Thing From Venus is available on It is available on DVD but I can’t speak to its quality. It was shot on 16 mm, so I wouldn’t hold out for a Blu-ray release.

Zorro (1975)

Director: Duccio Tessari
Screenwriter: Giorgio Arlorio

When his old friend dies, Diego must take his place as the new governor but with a promise not to kill anyone. So while pretending to be a weak governor, he moonlights as Zorro, bringing justice to the common people.

This Spaghetti Western version of the classic character is full of action, comedy, and good cheer. It features a great cast. And the final sword dual is amazing. Some people don’t like it because they are ideologically against fun. Try to see the 2-hour cut.

Starring Alain Delon (Le Samouraï), Stanley Baker (Zulu), Ottavia Piccolo (Mado), Adriana Asti (The Phantom of Liberty), Enzo Cerusico (Hercules, Samson and Ulysses), Giacomo Rossi Stuart (The Last Man on Earth), Giampiero Albertini (Return of Sabata), and Moustache (Avalanche).

Zorro is under copyright. It is available on various DVD releases but it isn’t clear what versions they have. The full version is available on a very expensive Blu-ray. But you can watch it on Amazon Prime.

26 January 2021

Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981)

Producers: George Hamilton and CO Erickson
Director: Peter Medak
Screenwriter: Hal Dresner (story: Hal Dresner and Greg Alt & Don Moriarty and Bob Randall)

Zorro does his usual thing, in this case mostly because he’s in love with a revolutionary woman. And he has a twin brother who is gay to help him out.

Despite the title, this one holds up remarkably well. The story is spotty but it’s pretty consistently funny. You need to enjoy gay camp, however.

Starring George Hamilton (Love at First Bite), Lauren Hutton (American Gigolo), Ron Leibman (The Super Cops), Brenda Vaccaro (Ten Little Indians), and Donovan Scott (Police Academy).

I would assume Zorro, the Gay Blade is under copyright but there is a nice print on It is available on DVD.

25 February 2021

Zotz! (1962)

Producer/Director: William Castle
Screenwriter: Ray Russell (novel: Walter Karig)

A professor of ancient languages finds an amulet that gives him special powers. The US military thinks he’s crazy but the Russians don’t!

I don’t think anyone ever doubted that William Castle had a sense of humor. And this film is pretty funny — the lighter side of Cold War propaganda.

Starring Tom Poston (Newhart). With Julia Meade (Pillow Talk), Jim Backus (Gilligan’s Island), Cecil Kellaway (The Postman Always Rings Twice), and Fred Clark (Auntie Mame). Margaret Dumont (Animal Crackers) has a small role.

Zotz! is under copyright. You can get it as a vanilla DVD. You can also get on The William Castle Film Collection along with 13 Frightened Girls, 13 Ghosts, Homicidal, Strait-Jacket, The Old Dark House, Mr Sardonicus, and The Tingler. Better is probably to get it on the extras-packed Blu-ray William Castle Volume Two along with 13 Frightened Girls, Old Dark House, and Strait-Jacket.

Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1990)

Producesr: Lloyd A Simandl and John A Curtis
Director: Harry Bromley Davenport
Screenwriters: John A Curtis, Stephen Lister, Robert Smith, and Edward Kovach

The government is working on a project to send people into another dimension. When they do, the people disappear and they have only 12 hours to get them out. Then they get one of them out. And then it’s Alien (1979).

A lot of people really like this film. It isn’t at all like the first film. But it has good sets, acting, editing. Sure, it’s derivative. But what isn’t?

Starring Jan-Michael Vincent (Deliver Us from Evil) and Tara Buckman (Blue Angel Cafe). With Paul Koslo (The Omega Man), Jano Frandsen, Nicholas Lea (The X-Files), and Rachel Hayward.

Xtro II: The Second Encounter is under copyright. And currently, it is not widely available. All the versions I’ve found are well over $100. It is available on its own disc. You can also get it with the first Xtro. You can get it at a reasonable price on VHS.

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