|Directed by||William Castle|
|Produced by||William Castle|
|Written by||Walter Karig|
|Music by||Bernard Green|
|Edited by||Edwin H. Bryant|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|October 3, 1962|
Zotz! is a 1962 fantasy/comedy film produced and directed by William Castle. It stars Tom Poston, Julia Meade, Jim Backus, Fred Clark, and Cecil Kellaway. The plot is about a man obtaining magical powers from a god of an ancient civilization. It is based on Walter Karig's 1947 novel.
A brilliant but peculiar professor of Ancient Eastern languages, Jonathan Jones, finds that an amulet sent to his niece Cynthia by a boyfriend from an archeological dig has magical powers.
Whoever has the amulet in their possession can 1) cause great pain by pointing at another living creature, 2) cause time to go into slow motion by saying the word "Zotz!", or 3) cause instant death by simultaneously pointing and saying "Zotz!". Both government and Communist agents immediately develop an interest in the amulet's possible military use. (This is a metaphor for the age of nuclear weapons, as the novel was written two years after atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
In the meantime, Jones and rival professor Kellgore are both in line for a promotion to take over from retiring Dean Updike as head of this California university's language department. A new colleague and possible romantic interest, Professor Fenster, is startled by Jones' behavior, particularly at a party thrown by Updike's wife that turns into chaos.
During the initial theatrical run, theater patrons received a full-size plastic replica of the amulet as a promotional item. In color, size and design, the replicas were essentially identical to the film amulet, with the additional feature of a small hole drilled at the top, for a key chain.