Mondo Macabro's restoration of this long lost Pakistani version of "Dracula" is simply spellbinding! The Lollywood interpretation leans heavily on the Hammer DRACULA of Terence Fisher even down to James Bernard's famous cues for the master's entrances and shock moments. Even so THE LIVING CORPSE or "Zinda Laash" at 104 minutes holds its own as a fascinating look at the Dracula myth from another part of the world.
The print was transferred from the only existing negative and looks amazing for a film made in 1967 and thought lost for nearly 35 years! The print shows a little wear and is a bit ragged in spots but overall is sharp and allows one to appreciate the expressionistic camera work that is full of atmosphere and shadows worthy of the German masters it emulates.
The plot is clearly Dracula by way of Hammer with a pre-credit sequence explaining that the Count was really just a mad scientist searching for the elixir of eternal life and working overtime in his lab promptly dies for his efforts. His attractive assistant takes the Professor's body and places it in an underground cellar where he rises as one of the Living dead. Once a vampire, the Professor wastes no time in transforming his buxom assistant into the realm of the undead. It is with her character that we witness one of the films best scenes when he offers her an infant to feast on rather than the young traveler, a moment true to Stoker and never included in any of the Hammer Dracula films. From this point we encounter young Dr. Aqil, the Jonathan Harker of the piece and the other Professor/Van Helsing as they attempt to seek out and destroy the evil Prof. Tabini. Unlike the western vampire tale this one has impromptu musical interludes with the vampire women not to mention a sing along for the local villagers that makes THE LIVING CORPSE a unique and charming curiosity. The audio track is in the native Urdu with English subtitles and presented in Dolby Digital stereo with no real complaints.
One of the revelations watching this film is how much Hammer's HORROR OF DRACULA influenced world cinema at the time creating a genre revival not only in Mexico with EL VAMPIRO, I VAMPIRI in Italy but a few years later being imitated so well in South Asian with this film.
Mondo Macabro has filled this presentation with great extras like two documentaries, a still and poster gallery, not to mention an audio commentary that informs us about the film in a very entertaining way. The first documentary is a brisk 24 minutes and gives you a good account of South Asian Horror, while the other --"Dracula in Pakistan" -- is also of interest to those who wish to learn more about how this film came to be made.
Director Khwaja Sarfraze has much to be proud of with this film and it shows in his remarks regarding the restoration of THE LIVING CORPSE along with comments by his "Dracula" actor Rehan who looks and acts much like Christopher Lee in the film.
THE LIVING CORPSE is THE find of the year and a must for anyone interested in vampire films or the horror genre from a world view. Try reading Fear Without Frontiers from Fab! Press after viewing this remarkable film and let's hope Mondo Macabro continues to present more of this kind of film since they do it so well. (David Del Valle)
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