Tuesday, May 1, 2012
[May Monster Madness]-Mahakaal (1993)
So, here we are with Mahakaal (also known as 'The Monster'), the second Bollywood Nightmare on Elm St. ripoff!
So, let's get straight into things (unsubtitled Hindi things). Mahakaal starts off with really creepy music playing over a mysterious shrine. And I mean really creepy music!...Music that I'm pretty sure was lifted straight from A Nightmare on Elm St! (I say pretty sure, since I haven't yet seen ANOES, but I know this movie uses its music). Then we see a girl in her nightie (Sima) walking around in a dark, red-lit room, filled with hanging chains and musical stingers. She just walks around, until all of the nearby doors slam shut on their own, and she runs into...Shakaal!
Shakaal, metal gloved, with razor tips, just like good ol' Freddy, attacks Sima, and while he attacks here, she suddenly teleports several metres away, then she runs in terror...straight towards the plainly in sight Shakaal, who runs her through with his claws, which wakes Sima up. She thinks it was all a dream, but then she sees the claw-marks on her arm. Well I can give this movie props over Khooni Murdaa-thus movie's dream monster plot kicks in right away, not fifty minutes into the film!
The next day, Anita is doing housework, when her boyfriend Prakash (who's wearing a blue Freddy-sweater) comes over. They go to school, where we see Canteen, a Michael Jackson wannabe, who acts weird as hell, even talking to the camera, all while Thriller plays!
After that, a musical number starts up on a beach-a musical number so cheery, that counting this and previous scenes, you wouldn't know this was a NOES rip-off! When the film jumps back into reality, nearly six minutes later!, we cut to a classroom, where one of the teens is caught looking at Anita's boobs by the teacher. Then, Anita is talking to Sima, who tells Anita about her nightmare, and the cuts she has on her arm. Next, Anita is in bed, about to fall asleep, and her father (a cop, just like Nancy's dad) looks sadly at a photo of someone. So Nancy falls asleep, and finds herself in Shakaal's lair after following a creepy little girl (who I think she used to know). Then Anita's atattacked by Shakaal himself, and after she tears his face off, she runs away and is 'attacked' by the mass amount of skeletons in the lair. She wakes up, screaming, and sees cut marks on her arm...
The next day, Anita is at school (or college, I have no idea) and is attacked by a group of thugs, who try to rape her. But, before this movie can become I Spit on Your Nightmare, Prakash and another friend come and fight the thugs off until the principal (?) arrives. So Anita talks with her friends, and...oh god, not another one!......
So after that (admittedly fun, but decidedly non-horrific for a horror film) musical number, the group head for a restaurant/hotel, where they met a weird guy with a hitler moustache, facepaint, toothy serial-killer grin, and crazy-eyes (who may or may not be Canteen's father)! So the group all go off to do there own things-Anita tells Prakash about her nightmare, and Michael Jackson goes with the weird guy to peep at one of the girls getting dressed, until she sees them and beats the crap out of them.
Then, Sima is asleep next to her boyfriend, and you know what that means!... So, the gal is killed when dozens of Kreuger claw hands come out of the floor, and everyone thinks 'Rod' did it. So, 48 minutes in, and only one death so far-I am not amused. So the police look for Rod, and find him on the school campus. Soon after, Anita falls asleep in class, leading to a redo of the bodybag scene from ANOES, except instead of meeting Freddy/Shakaal, she meets an eyeless sorta-zombie Sima. Then she's attacked by Shakaal and burned by a steam-pipe, which wakes her up.
Since Sima's death, this movies actually been pretty well paced, with many dream scenes!...Well enough of that, time for a pop song! After that, Anita's boyfriend goes to the jail and visits 'Rod'. Then, two girls are walking down a dark street, and are attacked by a group of thugs, but they get away when they get inside a populated bar...but when the would-be-rapists arrive, the bar's patrons do nothing but get out of the way. So, the girls would be in danger, but luckily for them, a secret door in the wall opens and a weird leather nut superhero with metal-button coated arms emerges!...Um, I think I've fallen asleep and awoken to a very different movie!
So, it only took about five minutes for Mahakaal the Monster to lighten up with a goofy comedy scene! So after all the comedy is over, we cut to 'Rod', who falls asleep, and instead of befalling Rod's fate, he suffers a very snakey demise! So Anita wakes up, and she somehow knows what's happened to 'Rod', and she tells her father (I think), who scoffs at her, until he gets a phone call from the prison.
While Anita and her mother talk, her father walks off, and Prakash tails him. Anita's dad opens a draw, and inside is a clawed glove, and when he sees Prakash, there's suddenly a lot of laser noises, face zooms and Sergio Leone-style eye shots. Anita and her mother come into the room, and her father tells them about Shakaal. Here the movie goes into flashback mode, and Anita's older sister has been kidnapped by Shakaal and is being held in his shrine. Her father comes to the rescue, but she is killed by Shakaal, and the father attacks Shakaal (after looking down the bottomless pit she was thrown in for nearly thirty seconds, which should have given Shakaal more than enough time to lob him in too! Also, Shakaal's got one hell of an architect to have made this lair! The set's awesome, and the lighting is ooky and cool-even the bottomless pit has sinister red lighting!) and he knocks him in a coffin, which he chains shut and buries.
So the flashback ends, and Anita's dad and Prakash leave, geared up and ready to find Shakaal's body and destroy it (I guess). They find the spot where the coffin was buried, they dig it up, and they open it. Instead of Shakaal's body, dead or alive, the coffin's filled with snakes. After a massive gust of wind, they slam the coffin shut, and everything's alright...until Shakaal starts Apocalypse Now-ing the scenery!
...And then it randomly stops and the two walk away, and that's itNEXTSCENE! We cut to Anita driving a car, and suddenly Shakaal does the 'killer in the back seat' with her. She runs out of the car and heads for an aquarium.
Four 'why are you still letting your daughter fall asleep?!/Anita, why do you keep willingly falling asleep?!''s, one Shakaal possessing (of Anita) another attempted rape, and another musical number later, Anita is kidnapped by Shakaal, now in the real world, and Nancy's parents and Prakash go to Shakaal's tortuous lair for the final confrontation...
Mahakaal is a fun movie, definitely more entertaining than Khooni Murdaa. It does share many of the same problems though. The pacing is shot, and the tone is all over the place! But the pacing is better than it was in KM-plus, this movie is a proper Nightmare On Elm St. ripoff, rather than just the concept of a dream monster and aped setpieces. Still, despite the horror prologue, it takes three quarters of an hour for Mahakaal's plot to get going, and there's other long stretches of near-unrelated, decidedly non-horror stuff happening (I really should think of a name for that for future Bollywood horror reviews, since many, if not all have the same damn problem!).
As for it's similarities to ANOES, Mahakaal is a much more direct ripoff than KM, as I said before, but it has its differences. Since Khooni Murdaa came first, it had copied many of the death scenes from the first Elm St. movie, so Mahakaal uses death scenes from later Elm St movies, and I think it creates a few original moments and deaths (I wouldn't know for sure, since I've only seen the first ANOES movie). There's several cool scenes in Mahakaal, from the dream sequences, which are all in Shakaal's lair (a GREAT set!) to scenes like the one where Anita goes to a wall and dozens of Krueger claw-hands come through the wall, ala Day of the Dead!
As for Shakaal, Bollywood Fred Krueger 2.0, he is NO Robert Englund (or Jackie Earle), but he's fun. The make-up is cool, and in my opinion, Shakaal's trencoat getup is much, MUCH cooler than Freddy's sweater! He never talks though, he only chuckles and laughs maniacly. He is an intimidating villain, but he shares the same silly weakness that Khooni Murdaa's Ranjit had-Sure, he may be an impossibly powerful sorcerer and dream-demon, but if you just keep beating the shit out of him, he will stay down! Now you all know what to do when you come across Urdu Pumpkinhead-just hulk out!
As for the story, while it may have its superhero and Michael Jackson diversions, it's more interesting than Khooni Murdaa to the point where I'm bummed out that I wasn't able to watch Mahakaal with subtitles-a sentiment that I never felt when watching KM! Another plus Mahakaal has over KM is its set design, which is a lot more extravagant than the blandly shot KM.
Onto Nanc...Anita, from what I've heard from people who've seen this with subtitles, she's a very useless character, having none of the intelligence and resource that Nancy had. While I can't notice her passive behaviour much when I have no idea what she's saying, I do no that Anita, and every other character in this film make NO attempt to stay awake! Even after her father explains the story of Shakaal, she still constantly goes to bed and sleeps, something which neither her parents or boyfriend object to! She also has a huge Darwin-award moment in the film's climax. She's in Shakaal's lair, and she's managed to drop a guillotine on his legs, slicing them off from down the knee. So, Shakaal is slowly, slowly crawling on his stomach to Anita, and instead of running, she slowly, SLOWLY backs away, and then hides in a small crawlspace, with a barred door. Congratulations Anita! You've just hidden in the only place in the room where the crippled Shakaal can go to you, reach inside and kill you! And you have no chance of escape! Unpleasant dreams, Anita! She manages to survive though, in an exceedingly cool climax...immediately followed by an abrupt ending!
So in closing, while still cursed with Rule 24, Mahakaal is at least a bit more fun than Khooni Murdaa ever was! So that's something good. Still, I do NOT want my Nightmare on Elm St ripoffs going longer than War and Peace!