Let me share with you something that I know about comedy. The sight of people being terrified is never funny. But people with the heebie jeebies? HI-larious. It is perhaps for this reason that the haunted house comedy is such an enduring sub-genre. And, as The Haunted House -- yet another vehicle for beloved Egyptian screen comic Ismail Yassin -- shows us, that is true not just for Hollywood, but throughout the world's many film cultures, as well.
Ismail Yassin's Phantom and Ismail Yassin's Tarzan, one of the rare Ismail Yassin joints not scripted by the comedian's friend and mentor, Abo El Seoud El Ebiary, who was a respected playwright and journalist in addition to being a prolific screenwriter. Fatin Abdel Wahab instead handles the screen writing duties here, in addition to directing, and is, given those double duties, I'm afraid incapable of escaping receipt of at least some of the blame for the fact that the end product is something of a mess. The worst crime here is that Yassin, one of the rare screen comedians of his era capable of not being annoying when used correctly, is not used correctly. Thus it follows, I'm sad to say, that he ends up being kind of annoying.
And it is thus, through all the proceeding hijinks surrounding Morsi's bumbling pursuit of the Gorilla, that The Haunted House seems to give the lie to its title. That is, until the film's final third, when someone involved finally remembered that a film called The Haunted House should probably have a few ghosts in it. And these -- including a Falstaffian sultan who carries his head in his hands, a couple of sheet-covered Caspers, and a ceiling walking apparition -- are enough to distract us momentarily from how little sense or purpose everything else in the movie seems to have. Until, that is, The Haunted House goes all Scooby Doo on us, introducing a baffling subplot involving a counterfeiting ring that in turn leads to a cops-and-robbers style finale that is as uncalled for as it was unforeseeable.
Flying Saucers Over Istanbul), and what must have been, for the time, a fairly racy striptease by Thuraya Hilmi. And while this compensates for a lot, none of it makes up for the apparent fact that nobody involved had a clue what to do with Ismail Yassin. As in films like Ismail Yassin's Tarzan, he is surrounded by an assortment of pompous upper class ninnies who are ripe for the take-down. But rather than using him as a playing-field-leveling anarchic force -- something that Abo El Seoud El Ebiary proved adept at doing -- Fatin Abdel Wahab merely chooses to use him as a standard issue, bumbling comic relief stooge.