Thursday, June 29, 2017 01:53

Posts Tagged ‘mondo macabro’

HELL’S GROUND

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

This Friday, City Screen York (Coney Street) is delighted to present Pakistan’s first gore movie – the inimitable HELL’S GROUND (aka Zibahkhana)!

zib

The film will be introduced by writer and producer Pete Tombs of Mondo Macabro, and will also feature a Bollywood horror trailer reel – oh, and there’s a bar…

If you’re able to get to it – see you there! More info here on the Facebook page…

Veerana (1988)

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Yeah, we Western audiences might be au fait with horror comedies but, when it comes to India’s horror output – films which frequently mix horror, comedy, family drama and musical – we’re on less familiar ground. This is what makes films like Veerana so utterly entertaining: they’re not only wacky, they’re cultural artefacts! It’s to the immense credit of the Mondo Macabro label that they have sourced, cleaned up and released so many otherwise unknown examples of world cinema for our screens.

Veerana plumps for occult-themed horror – mixing it with surprise dance routines and, by the standards of the place and the day, quite a lot of flesh. We start with a beautiful, insatiable blood-drinking witch named Nakita, and the devil cult which worships her (including a great, improbably-eyebrowed priest called Baba leading the ceremonies). When Nakita is captured and hanged by a group of disgruntled villagers, the priest vows vengeance on the village’s most influential family. And how? Why, by imbuing the wealthy Thakur Mahendra Pratap’s niece Jasmin with Nakita’s evil spirit, duh.

In a scene which was probably pretty scary to its earliest audiences, Jasmin is kidnapped by Baba and his miscreants, has her hair used to create an effigy of her, and is forced into the coffin of the Evil Dead-reminiscent witch in her true form. By the time her uncle saves her, it’s too late. Jasmin is a little more wild-eyed than she was…

Years pass. Jasmin has grown up, become hot and, when she’s not channeling Nakita’s Supreme Evil, she’s singing about love (you can be the judge of which is the more sinister). When Nakita is in the ascendant, however, Jasmin heads off and has her wicked way with garage attendants, draining their blood in the process.

Meanwhile, Jasmin’s cousin Sahila – whose father, Jasmin’s uncle, disappeared on that fateful day when Jasmin and Nakita became one and whose mother mysteriously died not long after – is called to return to the village. This is much to the chagrin of Baba, who has since wormed his way into the Pratap household by pretending to be a servant. Fuck knows why he’s so bothered, as Sahila, her accompanying cousin, wannabe horror director ‘Hitchcock’ and Hemant, a young man who she picks up along the way, seem fairly inept! Baba mobilses his ‘dark forces’ to prevent the other family members from arriving, but it’s no use. Even allowing for Hemant’s nearly-bissecting trousers, they all make it unscathed. Tough luck, Baba…

After this comedy of errors, the newly-arrived family members can’t help but notice that Jasmin is, well, a bit weird. They have to solve the problem of her dangerous dual life before a plot-bending twist reveals her true fate…and theirs! But not before a bit more singing and that.

Ah, Veerana. This is such an enjoyable film. Yes, there are plot holes you could drive a minivan through, but it doesn’t matter. You’ll be far too engrossed in why the Ramsay Brothers begin important scenes by focusing sharply on inexplicable portraits of alsatians, or who made the decisions on which scenes became song-and-dance numbers. This is also a very long film – 2 hours and 15 minutes in all – but it makes the most of its action and it certainly never feels dull. It’s so lurid, so over the top – and I have to give especial kudos to the cultists’ hiding-place, which looks like a cross between the video game DOOM and Blood on Satan’s Claw (and just who are the dudes with wooden heads? Give them their own film!)

Part of me feels I’m being a bit unfair towards the film by just cackling at it – it wasn’t made just to be mocked, and a lot of (slightly mad) care and attention has evidently gone into Veerana. The Ramsay Brothers were renowned for their gaudy work within the Bollywood horror tradition and you have to remember that there were a lot of very silly films coming out of Hollywood in the 80s too. They also seem quite self-aware – Hitchcock’s character sends up the horror genre at several points – and they do reference other films, even if it’s to steal some scenes (look out for scenes lifted wholesale from The Thing!)

As with so many films out on the Mondo Macabro label, this is a viewing experience which’ll stay with me. There’s just nothing like it in our cinematic tradition – even though we do have some horror-comedy-musicals, they aren’t even close to this in effect, being either nastier or more all-out pastiche. It’s also always interesting to see what goes for sexy and scary in other parts of the world, too – though, cultural lesson though this may be, it’s also a bloody entrancingly odd, entertaining movie.

Here ‘s the trailer!