Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)

Jan Peters (Autumn Russell) is returning to the home in Africa where she grew up to visit her great grandmother (Marjorie Eaton). On the way her driver (Gene Roth) appears to callously hit and run over a man standing in the road, covered in seaweed. Jan is distraught and reports the incident to her great grandmother, who dismisses it.

It turns out that the man was one of the walking dead, and he and 9 others (including Jan's great grandfather) were all crew on a ship called the Susan B. In 1894 the crew came ashore and, while exploring, discovered a cask of diamonds in an ancient tomb. 10 of them were zombified, and they slaughtered the rest of the crew, and have continued slaughtering the members of any expedition to retrieve the diamonds, from 1908 to the present day.

And, of course, there is a new salvage expedition led by George Harrison (Joel Ashley) and his wife Mona (Allison Hayes), with diver Jeff Clark (Gregg Palmer) along to do the actual heavy lifting and Dr. Jonathan Eggert (Morris Ankrum), a friend of the Peters family with an academic interest. They quickly find out that this will be no easy operation as one of their crew is killed before they even come ashore.

This is a cheap production, but rather exciting and entertaining. The performances are quite a bit above what one would expect from this type of movie, and there was a wise decision not to do a heavy make-up job on the zombies, but rather make them look normal - just with dead eyes, no expression and the occasional bits of seaweed dripping off of them. It's also a bit more violent than most movies of the period.

Sure, there are many movies like this with similar plots, but this one eschews some of the cheese for some true thrills.

Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)
Duration: 70 minutes
Starring: Autumn Russell, Gregg Palmer, Allison Hayes, Joel Ashley
Director: Edward L. Cahn

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