Dracula in Pakistan (Zinda Laash)
Film: Dracula in Pakistan (Zinda Laash)
Director: Khwaja Sarfraz
Writer: Naseem Rizwani
Starring: Yasmeen Shaukat, Deeba Begum and Habibur Rehman
This film begins with a scientist believing he has created the Elixir of Life, he is played by Rehan. He writes out his last will if drinking it will kill him. He then drinks it and dies. He has a woman assistant, played by Nasreen, who comes in and makes herself a drink. She ends up finding his body. She also finds the note and moves his body into the casket in the basement. Rehan then wakes up in the night and he has become a vampire. He bites Nasreen.
We then shift to a car driving down back roads. The man driving is a doctor, played by Asad Bukhari. He ends up at a mansion. It is said to be haunted, but he ignores this. He enters and after looking around, he is greeted by Rehan. Rehan asks him to stay and takes him up to a room. He tells him that he is welcome there, but Rehan will be leaving the following morning for business. Rehan also sees a picture of Bukhari’s love and he’s also interested.
In the middle of the night, Bukhari hears laughter and goes to investigate. He finds Nasreen who does a dance for him and then tries to bite his neck. Rehan stops this and then attacks Bukhari. The following morning Bukhari tries to escape, but he goes into the basement. He finds Nasreen and stabs her in the heart with a knife, releasing her from her curse. He is the next victim of Rehan though.
Bukhari’s brother comes looking for him, played by Habibur Rehman. He is told about the haunted mansion and he visits it. He finds Nasreen with the wound in her heart. He also finds Bukhari in a casket, as well as a knife with blood on it on the ground. He uses it to free his brother, but he doesn’t kill Rehan.
We then meet Bukhari’s love, played by Deeba Begum. She is teased by her niece, played by Baby Najmi. She comes inside to find Rehman talking her brother, played by Allauddin, and his wife, played by Yasmeen Shaukat. After Begum leaves the room, he tries to convince Allauddin that Bukhari had become a vampire and they need to kill the head vampire. They do not believe him, but Allauddin decides to accompany him to see proof.
The problem is when they get there, they do not find anything. Back at their house, Rehan visits Begum and bites her neck in the night. A doctor comes to help her, thinking it is just some blood loss. A friend, played by Sheela, is asked to stay with Begum that night. Begum becomes agitated though and wants to be left alone. Rehan returns and bites her again, killing her this time.
Allauddin still doesn’t believe in vampires, even when a young child was found dead in the cemetery with a similar death to Begum. He still doesn’t believe it when Najmi claims to have been visited by Begum the previous night as well. Bukhari tries one last time to convince him that there are vampires and they are after his family.
Will they find Begum a vampire? Who is the next victim of Rehan? Can he be stopped or will everyone become his victim?
I didn’t realize this until watching this film that this was a rare, thought to have been lost film from Pakistan. I guess that this was the first horror film from the country. I have to say that the best part of this film is the music during scenes that are building suspense. They have a great selection for these scenes that help set the mood. I thought the acting was okay and the story is Bram Stoker’s, just converted in some parts to fit the culture. This one is interesting to say the least.
Now I do have some issues with it. Where the music was good for the scary scenes, I thought it was horrible in others. There are scenes that have American or Western civilization music that felt out of place to me. I also do not understand the dance scenes that felt put in randomly and seemed out of place to me. I also read that they were considered controversial and actually gave it an X-rating. I found this surprising speaking what we see today in PG-13. The film is a bit boring, but I will give it some leeway being the first horror film from the country that had to deal with censorship.
With that said, I would recommend this film for the historical context, especially if you are interested in Pakistani culture or Dracula films. It is not he best version out there of this story, but it isn’t bad either. I have stated that it is the first horror film from the country as well. The acting is okay. I did watch it in Urdu with English subtitles as well as it was in black and white, so keep that in mind if it sways your decision. It isn’t a bad film to view though, if you’re interested.
My Rating: 5 out of 10