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BOLLYWOOD HORROR COLLECTION VOL 3 (1993 & 1986)
Published by Miranda on 2009/11/25 (866 reads)
BOLLYWOOD HORROR COLLECTION VOL 3 (1993 & 1986)
Directed by Tulsi & Shyam Ramsay
Review by Jason Tosta
Released by: Mondo Macabro
Running Time: MAHAKAAL (145 Minutes)/ TAHKHANA (125 Minutes)
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: Indian Audio/English Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Fullscreen 1.33:1
16:9 Enhanced: No
Special Features: Documentary, Cast and Crew Bios, Mondo Macabro Previews
Trailer Online: No
When I hear the term Bollywood, I think of sappy Indian romance flicks with large elaborate dance numbers. Well, not anymore. On the slab for dissection is Mondo Macabro’s double shot of Bollywood horror movies, THE BOLLYWOOD HORROR COLLECTION VOL 3. That’s right Bollywood horror movies are real and not just something I dreamed up in an alcoholic haze. The two films included in this set are 1993’s blatant NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET rip-off, MAHAKAAL – THE MONSTER and 1986’s more original offering, TAHKHANA – THE DUNGEON.
MAHAKAAL – THE MONSTER is the story of a monstrous demon with a burned face and a metal clawed glove on one hand (sound familiar?) that haunts the dreams of young Anita and her friends. As her friends start to drop off one by one, Anita, her parents and her boyfriend seek to stop the evil Freddy, I mean Shakaal, before he kills them all.
TAHKHANA – THE DUNGEON revolves around two sisters who are separated as kids when their father is killed. Each one possesses one half of a treasure map as a medallion around their neck. Once the medallions are put together, one sister and some friends set out to find the treasure in the bowels of her father’s deserted mansion. Unknown to them, there is a hideous monster guarding the treasure that is ready to slaughter anyone foolish enough to seek it.
MAHAKAAL – THE MONSTER is somewhat interesting, especially if you are a fan of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series. It’s fun to sit back and pick out all the similarities between the two movies. For example, they basically ripped off the main NIGHTMARE musical theme note for note. How were lawsuits not filed here? To be fair, several of the dream sequences are stylish, and though derivative of NIGHTMARE, have a bit of originality all of their own. The differences between this film and its American counterpart are also good for a chuckle or two. The funniest thing is that there are some of those trademark Bollywood song and dance numbers featured in both of these films. It’s pretty hilarious to watch. In the face of a demonic evil, these kids just can’t help the urge to sing and dance about things as diverse as “picnics” and “love.”
As the villain, Shakaal is a mixed bag. His burn make-up is reasonably done. He wears a ratty old London Fog overcoat and sports a killer mid 80’s spiky mullet; which is awesome! All he needed was some Oakley Blades sunglasses and he could have gone to high school with me. He doesn’t say much and his character is not well established. More killing and less laughing and stalking everyone would have made him a more successful baddy. As it stands, he’s just funny.
Culturally, there are some things in MAHAKAAL that don’t translate well. There are a few in-jokes about Indian movie characters and actors of the time that will leave American audiences slightly confused. This film is also incredibly long and overstays its welcome by a solid hour at least. At 145 minutes, you will need strong hallucinogenics to get through this thing in one sitting. By the third song and dance sequence, you may feel like ripping your eyes out. Lastly, there just isn’t enough bloodletting. I’m fairly sure that India’s strict censorship rules played a hand in this. There’s lots of tease but no real pay-off. Let’s just say, the most memorable thing about this flick is an Indian guy that does a left field, jaw dropping Michael Jackson impersonation, with supporting Thriller music and all.
TAHKHANA – THE DUNGEON fares a little better. It plays more like a gothic Hammer film. There are only two song and dance numbers, and they both occur before the middle of the movie, so they don’t disrupt the narrative as much as in MAHAKAAL. This film features some real atmosphere, and the monster is cool (in a lumbering sort of way). The story is much more original. It has black magic, dungeons, a monster, and a lost treasure. There’s a lot to like. That said, at 125 minutes, boredom does rear its ugly head at points throughout. I know that India is famous for its long films, but long horror films are rarely successful enterprises. TAHKHANA is no exception. Also, like MAHAKAAL, this film needed more blood. Without enough of the red stuff, we’re left only with some atmospheric visuals and a little cheesy action. All in all, there is just enough here for this film to get a passing grade from the Cheese Academy.
From the short but solid documentary on this disc, I learned that the Ramsay family was responsible for the birth of the Bollywood horror movement in India in the early 80’s. After seeing their success, other Indian filmmakers started flooding the scene with their own similar horror offerings. By the mid 1990’s, people were tired of the seeing the same old horror films over and over. The horror craze died out. It’s too bad really; I think that from what I’ve seen here, India has the vision to create some interesting horror films.
Your mileage with the BOLLYWOOD HORROR COLLECTION VOL 3 will vary greatly. If you are looking for scares and good horror cinema, keep walking. If you are adventurous, open minded and dig quirky, crazy foreign films that are far off the beaten path, check this collection out.
MONDO MACABRO deserves praise for allowing Western audiences to see rare and obscure titles like these. This is a maverick company, and all cult film fans should raise a glass to these guys. Their presentations are always top notch and the extras provided on their discs are often wonderful. The small, three-part documentary on the BOLLYWOOD HORROR COLLECTION VOL 3 set is excellent and essential in a release like this. After watching these two films, I scratched my head and said, “What was that about?” Luckily, the documentary was there to give me more information. The doc lightly covers the Indian horror craze of the late 80’s, Pakistani horror films, and their more visceral supernatural, computer effects based genre films of today. Informative text essays from Pete Tombs are also provided for both films, and cast and crew bios. MONDO MACABRO’s preview reel finishes things off. Man, they sure release some wild stuff. Great company, fun release, enough said.
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