Cinema/TV, Dracula

Your Daily Dracula – Haram Alek (Shame on You) (1953)

Your Daily Dracula – Stephan Rosti as Professor Aasim, Haram Alek (Shame on You) (1953) aka Have Mercy and Ismael and Yassim Meet Frankenstein.

This Egyptian imitation of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein features lookalikes for the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula and the Wolf Man to recreate scenes from the American film, but they aren’t really the famous monsters.  Instead, they’re a mummy, a hypnotist/mad scientist and an epileptic (!), presumably on the principle that the originals don’t feature in Arabic pop culture.

The film highlights the hard-to-take comedy stylings of Ismail Yasseen (who has the Lou Costello role) and Abdel Fatah al Kasri (whose Bud Abbottiness extends to a pal who keeps yelling ‘Abdou’!).  The comics gurn through hoary jokes (‘Can you tell me how old you are?’ ‘Actually, I can’t — because when I was born I was too young’) and react open-mouthed as scary people lumber at them.  Initially, they work in an antiques shop, to which ‘the mummy of Farfour Ben Bakhtour’ (Muhamad Soubay) is delivered, but heroine Afiff (Lola Sarfi) gets them a job as waiters in the home of her uncle Professor Aasim (Stephan Rosti).

The self-styled Invincible One (‘Mameluke’) wants to transplant Ismail’s brain into the mummy’s head so he’ll be easier to control.  Aasim has enslaved Dr Mourad, Afiff’s nattily moustached boyfriend, who sprouts Chaney Jr fur and fangs when he hears a wolf howl (one does, whenever convenient).  Farfour wears an exaggerated Karloff mask and semi-Beatle wig, plus big boots and shabby clothes.  Aasim sports a Lugosi cloak and hypnotic amulet, but also a devilish goatee and non-false crooked sharp teeth.  He spends enough time in a coffin to recreate the opening scene of A&CmF, but is otherwise not a vampire even though he is described as looking like an ‘affrit’.

The small-scale, drab film keeps its shadows to laboratory scenes, mostly playing out in well-lit, unatmospheric rooms.  Director Essa Karama’s sole clever bit of staging has the transformed Mourad stalking Ismail in a small courtyard where sheets are hung out to dry.  In a surprisingly bloody moment, Mourad scratches Farfour’s face and leaves clawmarks; which is more than Universal dared in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.

Otherwise, it’s the usual eek-a-monster stuff.  In the climax, Farfour and Aasim plunge off a balcony to their deaths, leaving Mourad freed of his curse and eligible to settle down with the heroine (as in House of Dracula, which might be where the moustache comes from).  The sign-off gag features the comedians spooked by the voice of the Angel of Death instead of the Invisible Man, but is the same basic idea.

Extract from Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon.

Want to see it? Here’s a nice-looking, if unsubtitled print.


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