Thursday, October 8, 2015

31 Days of Gore: Mahakaal (1993)

It's October. Time to talk horror. This year I'm reviewing a different horror movie each day of the month.

Do you know what Freddy films are missing? Singing and dancing, that's what. Leave it to Bollywood to address this oversight.

Not ready for prime time, bitch!

I haven't watched a lot of Hindi redos because they can be much longer than their Hollywood counterparts. Mahakaal, despite condensing the kills from several Nightmare on Elm Street films into one movie, is only a little over two hours long. Since it got a US DVD release in 2009, it's relatively easy to track down a copy, too (coughyoutubecough-cough).

The film is made by the Ramsay brothers, who I'm led to believe are a pretty big deal in Bollywood. According to Wikipedia:

The Ramsey Brothers have made more than 30 horror films in India, which epitomize the lower depths of 1980s Bollywood sleaze and gore, but which have secured their place in Hindi cinema’s hall of fame as the pioneers of horror.

So you can expect some dance numbers with your horror. What you might not expect is a Michael Jackson impersonator who incorporates mime routines into his act. He's not very good at it, either. Whether or not that's the joke, I honestly don't know.

The first act of Mahakaal is almost a carbon copy of the original Freddy film. Instead of high school teens, the leading characters are college students who are played by full grown adults. The biggest deviation in the first thirty minutes, other than the dancing, is the inclusion of a street gang which attempts to rape the main character. The crime is averted by a hilariously choreographed martial arts scene, which leaves her understandably shaken. Don't worry, though: the booger-picking Michael Jackson impersonator is quick to cheer the victim up with his silly antics, just what any woman would want following such a trauma.

Seconds later you can expect to see a gratuitous dance number set during a picnic on the beach. Somehow their pickup truck ends up in the water and they'll later wonder why it won't start. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, they decide to check into a nearby hotel. That's where they meet this guy:

"Well, helloooooooo!"

I'll be the first to admit a lot of the humor is lost on me, but even when it doesn't jell with my American sensibilities, the movie is downright charming. Which isn't to say this isn't a funny movie. Mahakaal can be a lot of fun with the right group, and not all of the laughter will come from the low production values and silly dance sequences. Even though this version of Freddy Kruger looks as if his makeup consisted of oatmeal and shoe polish, there's still something creepy about the way his scenes are shot.

Just don't call it a ripoff. Call it a tribute to some of Freddy's greatest hits. The trademark nursery jingle is even here, replicated just a few notes short of a lawsuit.


What real Freddy fans are probably wondering by now: Does it bring the goods? Sort of. You might expect it to shy away from the blood, but it doesn't. Not really. It just doesn't look very good. Skeletons appear to be made out of papier-maché and faces leave their skulls with the ease of pizza cheese. Somehow, I actually liked the way they revealed the parents' secret just a little bit better than the way it happened in the original film.

Look, I'm having a hard time recommending Mahakaal, but if you're a fan of musicals and cheap exploitation, it only makes sense to combine the two. However, you might get more ingredients than you bargained for... a lot more.


Come back at midnight Central Time for the next movie.

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