Friday, June 27, 2008

The ground of hell

The spirit of imagination and embracing what one is doing that I'm always so excited by the movies offered by Mondo Macabro.

Their catalog has movies I think are genuinely excellent along with many I find merely interesting and some I find interesting or bizarre failures... But the movies are always what they are in the most dynamically and entertaining fashion possible.

It's not really one of the "best" catalogs of any of the cult DVD companies, but it may be the most consistently interesting. In fact, I think if you polled a group of fans, you'd find that even there, the movies each person listed as favorites and such would differ greatly. So the idea that they were moving into producing new, original movies, starting with a Pakistani horror movie called Hell's Ground, was terribly exciting to me.

Director Omar Ali Khan describes the movie as influenced strongly by the likes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Evil Dead... He mentions a lot of references, but I couldn't help wondering if the character of Ayesha, played by the unbelievably gorgeous Rooshanie Ejaz, is called Ayesh in tribute to the Evil Dead character Ashley, played by Bruce Campbell being called Ash.

Of course, Aisha being the favorite wife of Muhammad, I could be reading in the wrong direction entirely.

Listening to the commentatary, I found it impossible not to like Khan and his understanding of '70s horror, Pakistani Cinema and his culture and how they could be brought together, including a nice cameo by Habib from The Living Corpse as possibly himself and a fakir in a role similar to the famous hitchhiker in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

And much as the various groovy bossa beat jazz and progressive rock scores of Italian genre movies often elevate their more mediocre movies into something more interesting, the Indian Subcontinental rhythyms of this movie keep things interesting even when it slips too far into the familiar.

Overall, I found much to admire in the movie.

But I was vaguely disappointed with it as a Mondo Macabro movie. Despite the interesting cultural bits that slip in, it's more of a generic '70s horror riff than I'd hoped, albeit one of the better ones. I hope in the future that both Mondo Macabro and Khan will move into territory not already being strip mined by Lion's Gate, New Line and Dimension.

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