Indian Horror Cinema falls into that category of film that I usually go to watch because it is so bad it becomes brilliant.
Purana Mandir-1984- Trailer…it pretty much tells the whole story…beasts, blood, and bathing beauties…
I hope there is some teenage Desi Tarantino out there waiting to make films which canonize these classic genres through his (or her) homage to 20th century Desi Horror….an Indian “Grindhouse”- perhaps this kid is out there sipping flat pepsi and eating stale popcorn in one of those crumbling Art Deco Desi cinemas that always seem on the verge of being bought out and bulldozed by some entrepreneurial multiplex cinema. Because I think as Bollywood and other Desi cinema genres get slicker, more coherent, and actually more frightening…we will lose the fun of watching the kind of films where the worse they are technically- the better they are.
Most Indian films that deal with horror nowadays are being done on a large scale….and tend to take themselves quite seriously….with careful attention to continuity- and the overall package leaning more towards “realist” horror…even when dealing with bizarre themes…they have much more money being put into special effects and editing – and the plot is full of less gore and freakiness and is driven more by the powers of suggestion and suspence…its supposed to keep the audience asking “what is it?” rather than…. “Holy shit it’s coming to get me!!!”…take for instance Naina and Kaal, which seemed more like drama/thrillers than full throttle horrific blood carnivals…
Right now we are on the cusp of losing all that camp upping the anti in terms of what scares- we have to when half of the movies that come through Indian cinemas and dvd stores are some hellish Hollywood flicks. But we are still making films which- for those of us stuffed with images from the Exorcist, Hostel, The Ring, The Grudge, etc….Bollywood horror is still watched more for comedic value than for the nightmarish experience-even though the cinematography has improved substantially- take for instance- the horror film “Vaastu Shashtra” 2004 by Ram Gopal Varma- that had such an inane plot and campy style- it had me screaming with laughter…To give you some idea of the film-“Vastu” is the ancient Hindu mystic practice of building and arranging your house so that the energies are balanced and you do not invite negative forces- its very much like Feng Shui.
So in the film a new family moves into a house where there is supposed to be perfect Vastu but there is an evil tree…and their child becomes entranced by a floating cricket ball…and his slutty sister gets killed and hangs naked from the tree…and then we find out that when people die they become ghosts who do not remember who they were before they die…they become ghost-zombies who attack relentlessly with no purpose…and all because of the evil tree…I’m actually making it sound much more coherent than it was…mostly it was filled with shots of the characters getting scared and the random sound effects of maniacal laughter, screams, buzzing flies, creaking doors, heavy breathing, some kind of Japanese flute, and the sound of ghosts going “whoooooo”…watch the trailer of Vastu here
The sound effects are my favorite part of the horror genre. I remember forcing my parents to take me on the “Bhoot Bangla” ride at Apu Ghar (Delhi Amusement Park) over and over again as a kid- it was my favorite ride…complete with maniacal laughter, piercing shrieks, and all that spooky synthesizer music accompanied by the visuals of plastic bats and spiders, ghosts poking out of mechanical coffins with springing lids and other creepy crawlies of the night lunging out at you as you ride along in a miniature train rattling over the clunking tracks.
khooni panja image from thehotspot
I guess I’ll be depressed if Desi horror completely loses those sound effects, the bleeding red eyes, furry monster costumes, jiggling temptresses and the nonsensical scripts. So I’m counting on little Pratap or Parvati Tarantino out there to be taking some notes on the Horror classics so in 2025 we’ll be watching horror tributes starring an Aging Shah Rukh Khan as “the demon-vampire-King” and little Abhishwarya (the spawn of Abhishek and Aishwarya) as “sacrifical maiden”
image from link
another blog thought on horror:
When I was in college, Zee Cinema used to air a hindi horror movie every Thursday evening. We never used to miss the laugh riot! The story used to be more or less same. All of them used to have an old, abandoned haveli or some khazana or pyaasi aatma. Inadvertently, our hero and his hip looking girlfriend will land into the ground zero along with few just-to-die-after-two-reels friends. However deserted the haveli might be, a chaukidaar, enshrouded in a blanket (even in summers, anyway, it’s always night in the bhoot-land), with a lantern will be there. And the shower will be working, so that our chick can bathe and the crowd can vasoolofy some money. The presence of one tantric baba is essential. When all the good-for-nothing friends are spent and the aatma now endangers the life of the leading couple, it’s baba’s responsibility to put the silver trishool through the bhoot’s breast.
Image trishul from link
Even some of the actors were regulars, Puneet Issar always played to fighter friend, only to be killed by the aatma after putting up a fighting show. Archana Puran Singh played the bathing beauty – the damned shower always started to throw blood after a while! Most of them ended up to be plain cheap sleaze show, to satisfy the front benchers. The acting standards used to be really ludicrous and the make up and all was plain pathetic. These movies certainly had the virtue of being cheap, so to extract cost should have been very easy. Ramsey brothers made a fortune out of howling creatures and booties under shower (They later went ahead to make Zee Horror Show! That was just class apart! :))!
For the rest of the article by Varun Singh click here
Trailer of 1990Bandh Darwaza… gives a good sampling of the plot; Vampire and vixens
And for more on the Ramsay Brothers – Bandh Darwasa and Purana Mandir click hereand check out thehotspotonline…excellent Pakistani Bollywood/Lollywood Horror Website…full of reviews and gory posters…enjoy!
image from link
heh heh…I love that pic…”The power of Om Compells you…”