Zinda Laash (The Living Corpse): Lahore horror

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Zinda Laash directed by Khwaja Sarfraz horror film movie reviewsZinda Laash  (aka The Living Corpse aka Dracula in Pakistan) directed by Khwaja Sarfraz

For proof positive that the fearsome vampire scourge continues into modern times and is truly international in scope, one need look no further than the 1967 Pakistani film Zinda Laash, otherwise known as The Living Corpse (and, less imaginatively, Dracula in Pakistan). Infamous for having received the first “X” rating for a Lollywood film (and no, that is NOT a typo; apparently, that is the accepted name for the Lahore film industry), as well as for giving one poor woman a heart attack (!) during an early screening, the film is nevertheless little known today, a state of affairs that this great-looking DVD from Mondo Macabro will hopefully correct. Though based on Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, Zinda Laash branches off into original directions and is certainly a unique experience.

In it, a scientist named Prof. Tabani (played by an actor only billed as Rehan; many of the film’s actors also sport one-name handles) swallows his new elixir, hoping that it will confer upon him immortality. The good news is that Tabani’s formula does indeed work; the bad news is that it transforms him into a fanged neck-nosher, with a decided aversion to sunlight! And when members of two nearby families become victims of the transformed doctor, several of their survivors decide to put an end to his nocturnal depredations…

Although certainly not the best and surely not the scariest vampire movie to ever flap out of the crypt, Zinda Laash does have much to offer, even to the jaded Western viewer. The picture boasts some striking images and occasionally stunning B&W cinematography, with inspired use of light and shadow. Though never graphically violent or sexually provocative (Western viewers will certainly conclude that this is the most unjustly given “X” rating in film history!), the picture does feature a thrilling conclusion and numerous instances of strangeness. Among the assorted bits of weirdness on display are a super-klutzy seduction dance by a lusty/ravenous vampiress (actress’ name: Nasreen); one brother seeking for another by calling out “Dr. Aquil” (such formality!); Shabnam’s initial DAYTIME seduction (how’d that happen?!?!?!); and a nighttime cemetery walk taken by the now-vampiric Shabnam (actress’ name: Deeba) and her cute little niece.

And then there are those musical numbers, five in all, including one with a dozen young gals extolling the beauty of the weather as they picnic by a river that looks like a toxic dump! And though some of the film’s background music, provided by Tassadaque Hussain, is quite eerie and effective, at times it can be quite inane (as when it breaks into “La Cucaracha”!). Director Khwaja Sarfraz, however, brings his film in with some style and imagination, although many scenes drag on for too long (the picture could/should easily be 15 minutes shorter) and his lack of budget is quite evident.

Yet, for all this, Zinda Laash remains a striking achievement. And don’t even get me started on what a package this DVD is! Filled with copious extras, including two documentaries on South Asian horror and the film itself, a trailer, in-depth text articles, stills and more, the disc is yet another remarkable offering from the highly generous and enterprising folks at Mondo Macabro…


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SANDY FERBER, on our staff since April 2014 (but hanging around here since November 2012), is a resident of Queens, New York and a product of that borough's finest institution of higher learning, Queens College. After a "misspent youth" of steady and incessant doses of Conan the Barbarian, Doc Savage and any and all forms of fantasy and sci-fi literature, Sandy has changed little in the four decades since. His favorite author these days is H. Rider Haggard, with whom he feels a strange kinship -- although Sandy is not English or a manored gentleman of the 19th century -- and his favorite reading matter consists of sci-fi, fantasy and horror... but of the period 1850-1960. Sandy is also a devoted buff of classic Hollywood and foreign films, and has reviewed extensively on the IMDb under the handle "ferbs54." Film Forum in Greenwich Village, indeed, is his second home, and Sandy at this time serves as the assistant vice president of the Louie Dumbrowski Fan Club....

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6 comments

  1. It’s always interesting to see what people do with Dracula, and how they choose their level of connection with this groundbreaking work. I thought long and hard about using him in my fantasy series, starting with A Vision in Crimson. I could have easily gone a more generic route, but my concept of vampirism and the paranormal derives so much from Stoker and his contemporaries that anyone else would not have done the character justice. But it’s also a struggle to make someone else’s character your own-this film shows its cultural stripes in its cinematic form, especially with things like musical numbers. I hope someone else will say that about my fiction one fine day.

    • sandy ferber /

      Yes, you are so right, Kathryn. There are so many vampire films out there whose debt to Bram Stoker are more than evident, and many newer ones that have branched out in less conventional directions. For example, there is George A. Romero’s “Martin,” in which our bloodsucker might not be a vampire at all, but rather just a disturbed dude with a taste for the red stuff. Anyway, best of luck with your literary endeavors!

    • sandy ferber /

      Yes, you are so right, Kathryn. There are so many vampire films out there whose debt to Bram Stoker is more than evident, and many newer ones that have branched out in less conventional directions. For example, there is George A. Romero’s “Martin,” in which our bloodsucker might not be a vampire at all, but rather just a disturbed dude with a taste for the red stuff. Anyway, best of luck with your literary endeavors!

      • It’s so funny that you mentioned that. One on my works in progress, Notes From the Undead, deals with similar issues-through psychological and physical trauma, Roderick Chastel comes to believe he is a vampire, and chronicles what it takes to maintain such a gruesome lifestyle. Hopefully this will be ready for beta reading soon!

  2. sandy ferber /

    Sounds very interesting to me, Kathryn! Have you ever read Theodore Sturgeon’s “Some of Your Blood”? I have reviewed it here on FanLit. It might be right up your alley….

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