Monday, November 25, 2019

pakula lives!

With the Mark Gatiss/Steven Moffat update of Dracula looming on the horizon and after spending a weekend immersed in the original Universal Monsterverse thanks to a bumper showing of classic creepies on the Horror Channel I thought it was about time I had a rewatch of one of THE greatest monster movies of all time.


"Children of the mooth....what shite they make!"

Zinda Laash (AKA The Living Corpse, Dracula in Pakistan - 1967).
Dir: Khwaja Sarfraz.
Cast: Rehan, Ala-Ud-In, Asad Bukhari, Nasreen, Latif Charlie and Deeba Begum.

The kindly, yet oh so slightly hatstand Professor Jimmy Tabini (60s superstar Rehan who most of you may know from Hell's Ground) has spent his whole life (so far) trying to create a magical medicine that will quite literally hold back death.

And get rid of those eggy stains you get on the underside of your pants.

Unfortunately for him - but not for the movie obviously -  things go a wee bit awry when takes a swig from the bottle to test it and suddenly drops down dead.

As luck - and plotting - would have it his cutesy cardie-wearing assistant Gayle (Nasreen best known as Girdhari's Mom in Tel Malish Boot Polish) is on hand to quickly carry him to the cellar and pop his body in a handy coffin.

Which is nice, if a little abrupt.

But almost immediately after nailing the coffin shut Gayle notices a spooky scratching noise coming from within.

Putting it down to wolves she retires to her bed for the evening little realizing that the home-made medicine has had a bizarre effect on the good doctor.

Well more bizarre than appearing to kill him stone dead obviously.

It seems that the powerful potion has turned Tabini into one of the undead causing him to rise from his grave whilst dressing in Bela Lugosi's hand me downs.

Well I hope they're his hand me downs seeing as Lugosi was buried in his cape and suit - I'd hate to add grave robbing to Tabini growing list of misdemeanors.

So imagine Gayle's surprise that night when she comes across the resurrected Tabini on her way to the toilet.

The surprise soon turns to terror tho' as he greets her by chomping down on her neck.

Something tells me he's become a vampire.

Oh yeah - the movies title.

Sean Connery farted....and it smelled of haggis. And shame.

Being based on Bram Stoker's book it's not long before someone called Harker turns up - in this case the handsome Dr. Aqil Harker (Bukhari) tired and hungry after a trip to the local Londis (probably to see if they still have Orloff And The Invisible Man in stock) who arrives at the Professor’s humble abode looking for food and lodgings.

But not, i hasten to add a vampiric encounter.

Tabini resplendent in all his dinner suited glory creepily greets Aqil and quickly takes him upstairs to 'show him to his bedroom'.

I don't know about anyone else, but when men of a certain age have rushed me upstairs we've at least discussed payment first.

But just as the movie is seeming to head into the territory of 'the homolust' much feared by Pakistani cinema a photo of  Aqil's fiancée falls from his overnight bag not only to prove that the doctor is as straight as they come but to give Tabini a chance to show us his pervingly lustful look.

So we're all winners really.

Portishead: The pikey years.

Maybe Aqil could have avoided trouble when sleeping in strange old men's houses by wearing a picture of his missis in a heart shaped badge on his lapel but then maybe he fancies a wee bit of camp count action for a change.

And with that thought he makes his excuses and goes to bed only to be woken  from a restless sleep some time later by the spooky sound of singing emanating from the cellar.

As is the way in horror movies (yup even those with sporadic musical numbers) Aqil grabs his dressing gown and heads off to investigate soon coming across (and who would blame him?) the professors assistant - clad only in a sheer, granny style nightgown - sexily undulating and generally being a saucy minx in an attempt to seduce him.

I say.

Your mum yesterday.

Unable to resist the sight of a full hipped dusky beauty in a flowing nightie Aqil is soon not only under Gayle's hypnotic spell but a servant of the undead Professor Tabini.

A man of science now possessed by an evil supernatural force.

"I fang you!"

Will Aqil's family notice he's missing and mount a search party?

Will his Fiancée Janet - overcome with grief for her missing man - begin singing in the street for absolutely no reason? 

And how will she manage to free him from Tabini's - and more importantly the foxy vamp vixens - power?

Unashamedly borrowing wholesale from (and in the case of James Bernard's score for Horror of Dracula - blatantly stealing, alongside an incredibly strange version of La Cucaracha.) the Hammer and Universal Dracula cycles by way of a Bollywood style make over - the wonderfully weird Zinda Laash is exactly what you'd expect from a film entitled 'Dracula in Pakistan'.

Switching seamlessly from classic Gothic terror to song and dance scenes at the drop of a cape, the movie also adds some unique touches to vampire lore.

Whereas the 'western' Dracula has the ability to shape change (mostly into a bat in screen versions) Tabini is more likely to hop into his car for a quick getaway.

Same goes for Dracula's use of his 'persuasive' mind powers, whereas we're used to the Count's hypnovision, Tabini is more likely to just beat the shit out of people in order to get his own way.

And it's these scenes of wanton violence alongside dance routines dubbed "Too sexually provocative" by the censors that led to the film's almost banning only getting a release after the sexier scenes were cut and then with an 'X' rating,  the first ever in Pakistan.

No mooth shite-in allowed!

And it's this mix of the familiar and downright bizarre that make this movie such a joy to watch, plus Nasreen is probably THE most exotic - and not to mention sexily swivel hipped - vampire babe to ever grace the silver screen.

Genius from start to finish.

And Rehan gives the greatest ever performance as Count Dracula in any movie ever.


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