Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ismail and Abdel Meet Frankenstein AKA Have Mercy

By Doug Gibson

A while back on Plan9Crunch, we reviewed a very obscure, but out there for sale, likely illegal 1962 Mexican remake of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. We now bring you an even more obscure Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein likely illegal remake, from Egypt in 1954, called "Abdel and Ismail Meet Frankenstein," (although it was titled "Have Mercy" in Egypt). I actually think this film is a little superior to the Mexican ripoff, but that's not really a compliment. This film is sold via Sinister Cinema.

The film is really cheap, mostly unfunny and has a musical score that makes the score for Ed Wood's "Jail Bait" seem like Beethoven. But, to its threadbare credit, it sticks stubbornly close to the plot of Bud, Lou and Bela's film; even to the point of re-creating, with its character, the most shocking scene of the Universal classic, where Glenn Strange's monster picks up beautiful mad scientist Sandra and throws her through a window to her death. Of course, everything's cheap in this version, the window looks phony, and so on, but I was impressed they included that scene.

Anyway, Egyptian comics, and apparently stars, Ismail Yasseen and Abdel Fatah al Kasri play silly clerks in an antique store. The "Lou" type, Ismail, is romanced by a woman, Samya, who is in cahoots with a mad scientist. (Guess what, Samya wants Ismail's brain!) One night, our boys receive a delivery of a big coffin that contains a mummy that looks just like a dime store traditional Frankenstein monster. Ismail keeps seeing it, Abdel never does and eventually the mad scientist, who looks just like a dime store version of the traditional Dracula, steals the Frankenstein-like mummy.

I digress to mention that Dracula and Frankenstein monster are never mentioned, perhaps to avoid any copyright legalities? There is a wolfman, but he is the assistant to the mad scientist, and he romances the mad scientist's niece; hence the Bud and Lou film characters of Dracula's unknowing assistant, the insurance investigator, and Lon Chaney Jr,'s wolfman are covered in two characters.

To get the boys in a situation where the mad scientist and Samya can get Ismail's brain into the "mummy," the comic pair are engaged as help at a party for the mad scientist's niece. Eventually, everything moves to the same climax scenario that was so funny in Bud and Lou's version. It isn't nearly as funny in this version, and arguably not funny at all 90 percent of the time, but it's fascinating to watch this virtually nil-budget production try so hard to mimic the experts.

At the end, the mummy survives and loses his curse, so he and the niece can live happily ever after. Ismail and Abdel do their version of the Invisible Man blackout that Bud and Lou did so well. There's no lake or boat, and their last-minute visitor is the "angel of death," which sends them running wildly away as the credits start.

This is a fascinating oddity for genre fans, just as the Mexican version is, but don't watch them both in one night; no one needs the torture ... but one can survive 90 minutes of bizarre kitsch.

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