International Remakesploitation: The Horror Meme from The Turkish Exorcist to Dracula in Pakistan (London)

Date(s) - Thu. Jan. 10, 2019
7:00 pm GMT - 10:00 pm GMT

The Horse Hospital

Iain Robert Smith

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This lecture will introduce students to the world of horror ‘remakesploitation’ – international exploitation remakes of successful horror films that were often unlicensed and aimed primarily at the domestic market. For example, in 1974 the celebrated Turkish filmmaker Metin Erksan directed Şeytan, a near shot-for-shot remake of The Exorcist (1973), albeit with the Catholic iconography replaced with equivalents from Islam. This was part of a global trend for producing unlicensed reworkings of William Friedkin’s film including the blaxploitation film Abby (1974), the Italian-American rip-off Beyond the Door (1974) and the re-release of Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil with additional scenes under the title The House of Exorcism (1974). Similarly, in 1967 the Pakistani director Khwaja Sarfraz produced a loose remake of Dracula (1958) titled Zinda Laash that recreated many elements from the Terence Fisher Hammer film but with the notable addition of ‘item girl’ dance sequences – thereby creating one of the most unique adaptations of Bram Stoker’s novel.

Surveying a range of examples of horror remakesploitation from around the world, this lecture uses Richard Dawkins’ concept of the ‘meme’ – a cultural equivalent of the biological gene that spreads and mutates in a manner analogous to evolution – to explore what these films can tell us about processes of cultural globalization. What changes were required, for example, when the Ramsay Brothers reworked Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) in their Bollywood film Mahakaal (1993)? Or when filmmaker Mehmet Aslan directed a Turkish remake of Sergio Martino’s classic giallo The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh (1971)? Or when Sanjay Gupta produced an Indian remake of Oldboy (2003)? Illustrated with numerous clips and posters from this international phenomenon, this class will investigate these processes of cross-pollination to explore how the horror genre adapts and mutates as it travels around the globe.