The Living Corpse

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Professor Tabani has been working on a formula that will grant eternal life, but he hasn’t nailed down all the right elements. His hard work soon pays off however, when he concocts the serum and downs it without hesitation. An instant surge of pain rushes through him, which he is certain will lead to his own demise. So he writes a note to his assistant to be placed in a coffin downstairs, which is carried out right off. He does pass into the next world, but he returns to his own life soon after, though in a much different state. The first act once he returns is to bite his assistant, which turns her over to the realm of the undead. After some time passes, a man named Dr. Aqil seeks refuge in Tabani’s mansion, but his exact intentions are unknown. Tabani’s assistant quickly begins a dance of seduction and bites Aqil, but her bite alone isn’t enough to change him. Tabani will need to bite the man as well, since he is a full blooded vampire. Aqil soon realizes what has happened and of course, he is determined not to be transformed. He is able to descend to the tomb and dispatch the assistant, but he falls short in his battle with Tabani. This results in his complete transformation, as well as his fiancee being selected for a replacement bride for Tabani. Can anyone stop Tabani’s reign of terror, or will he live forever, just as he planned?

This movie is touted as the finest horror movie ever made in Pakistan, which is a statement I would have a hard time debunking. After all, we don’t see too many Pakistani pictures here in America, let alone horror movies from that nation. At least I had heard of The Living Corpse, as discussed in a few books and magazine articles about obscure, international horror and cult cinema attractions. I have to admit, the idea of a Pakistani take on Dracula sounded like something I needed to see, if I could ever track it down. The search took some time and effort, but I did locate a video and it was well worth the extra work involved. I had read this was a rendition of Dracula, but I didn’t expect it to be so close to the source material. The Living Corpse unfolds like other takes on the classic novel have, but with some new twists & turns tossed in. We even see some scenes from the book that didn’t make it into other productions, not to mention that this movie features some unusual song & dance musical numbers. But don’t expect camp from The Living Corpse, as this is a serious, straight horror film and for the most part, it all works. The performances are good, the atmosphere is great, and the visuals are stylish & well executed. This is a must see for fans of horror and obscure cinema, but like I said, don’t expect schlock with this one. Mondo Macabro has served up a great disc too, so don’t miss The Living Corpse.

Video: How does it look?

The Living Corpse is presented in full frame. This film has been restored and it shows, as this is a much cleaner and more refined presentation than I’ve ever seen. As I said before, I have seen a couple other versions of this movie and in each case, the visuals were soft and murky, but that has been solved here. The print used has some grain and marks at times, but looks a thousand times cleaner than previous editions. The lessened grain opens up the visuals, so we have a sharp and crisp visual presence. I was pleased to see the contrast has also been vastly improved, so black levels are consistent and stark throughout. Now detail is much higher and the visuals can actually be appreciated, unlike prior versions. This might be a low rent Pakistani flick from the 60s, but this is one hell of a visual presentation.

Audio: How does it sound?

The film’s original Urdu soundtrack is preserved here, via a more than passable stereo presentation. This is a low budget movie from Pakistan in the late 60s, so we can’t hold it to the same standards as more recent releases. I noted some worn spots, where the audio gets thin, but that is to be expected in this case. The dialogue sounds clear, even if I couldn’t understand it, while the offbeat, but fun music is also well presented. In all, I found this to be an always decent and acceptable soundtrack and I think most folks will agree. This disc also includes optional English subtitles, should you need those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I’ll begin with an audio commentary track, which features the insights of Mondo Macabro’s Pete Tombs and film critic Omar Khan. This is a primer on Pakistani cinema, as both men know an immense amount about this film, as well as its place in the grand Pakistani cinematic scope. The track unrolls as a relaxed, but information packed session, one which fans of the movie and obscure cinema in general won’t want to miss. Even more insight into South Asian cinema is found in a half hour featurette, which delves into a more broad look at the subject. A wide scope of cinema is looked at in this piece, but time constraints are obvious and the information is more brisk, as opposed to in depth. A selection of interviews with cast and crew members can be also scanned, which provides a more detailed account of the production itself. This disc also includes still photos & promotional materials, documents on the film’s censored versions, a text essay on the film’s restoration, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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