• The Bollywood Horror Collection Volume Three: Mahakaal/Tahkana (Mondo Macabro) DVD Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: May 19th, 2009.
    Director: Tulsi Ramsay, Shyam Ramsay
    Cast: Karan Shah, Archana Puran Singh, Mayur/Hermant Birje, Aarti Gupta, Sheetal
    Year: 1993/1986
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    The Bollywood Horror Collection Volume Three: Mahakaal/Tahkana – Movie Review:

    Mondo Macabro continues to do the Lord’s work, uncovering some of the most esoteric foreign gems and unlashing them on an unsuspecting western viewing audience in better condition than various bootleggers have provided over the year,s and generally with pretty nifty extras too. Case in point, the third volume of the Bollywood Horror Collection line, featuring Mahakaal and Tahkana. What the Hell are Mahakaal and Tahkana? I’ll attempt to explain…

    Mahakaal (The Monster):

    Better known in various circles as ‘Bollywood Nightmare on Elm Street’ this one definitely borrows from Wes Craven’s fright glove classic. When the film begins, a foxy chick named Seema is wandering around a boiler room doing her gosh darndest to avoid a burnt up dude with a leather glove attached to some frighteningly sharp claws. It doesn’t work so well in her favor, but she wakes up from this horrifying nightmare on an unnamed street just in time, though the scratches on her indicate just how close she came to death.

    The morning after Seema’s spooky dream we meet sexy young Anita and her boyfriend Prakesh. These two are obviously madly in love, you can tell by the way they prance around and sing to one another, but a local bad dude named The Boss wants Anita for himself. Unfortunately for Prakesh, The Boss also has a small army of thugs at his disposal, one such henchman sporting a baby blue Iron Maiden polo shirt with the Can I Play With Madness logo ironed onto it.
    Style! At any rate, when our lovebirds are hanging out a cafeteria run by an effeminate Michael Jackson impersonator (who enters the frame to the tune of Thriller) named Canteen, it looks like it’s all going to hit the fan but thankfully a tussle is avoided… for now. Seema and Anita hook up and talk about Seema’s freaky dream and as luck would have it, Anita’s been having similarly odd nocturnal adventures of the fright glove kind, though hers involve a young girl in a white dress.

    When The Boss loses control of his libido and has his bad dudes attempt to rape Anita by spraying her with a hose (don’t get pregnant Anita!), Prakseh arrives just in time to kick everyone in the face and save her beloved from what we assumed was inevitable nastiness. To celebrate, they gather up some friends, including Canteen, and head out to the woods for a picnic – that makes sense, when you think about it, because there are rarely fright glove wearing burned up killers at picnics. Sucks to be them though cause their ride breaks down and they wind up having to spend a night in a rundown old hotel run by a guy with a Hitler moustache (seriously). When the friends hunker down for the night to get some much deserved shut-eye, the fright glove wearing killer shows up to haunt them, to kill them in their sleep even! It gets nuttier from there, with Canteen turning into some sort of wolf man, and various set pieces from Wes Craven’s film being blatantly ripped off and you know what? It’s fucking awesome.

    You wouldn’t think that A Nightmare On Elm Street really needed musical numbers but the sad fact of the matter is that you’d be very, very wrong because the Ramsey Brothers, by throwing in some song and dance routines and a gay Michael Jackson impersonator, have somehow managed to take a decent enough American horror movie and turn it into something completely different without straying very far from the film it’s attempting to copy. The picture is quite well shot, making some good use of colorful lighting and interesting locations (just wait until you see the final battle in the crazy underground skull lair) and on a technical level alone, it’s fairly accomplished. It’s a pretty berserk film that goes on a ridiculously long time, but you can’t help but get swept up in it all. Throw in some bizarre right wing morality snipes and a giant snake and you’ve got yourself a pretty bad ass movie.

    Tahkana (The Dungeon):

    The second feature, an earlier Ramsay Brothers effort, isn’t quite as nutty as the first picture but it’s still very much worth a look. The film follows two sisters, Sapna and Aarti Singh, whose evil magician of an uncle tried to sacrifice them to some sort of evil power when they were kids. Well, the bad uncle went to jail for a long time but guess what? He’s back. The sisters were separated after the ordeal, each one given half of a necklace that, when joined with its twin, will help whosoever is lucky enough have it find a massive buried treasure. Well, their asshole of an uncle wants to get his evil hands on that booty pretty bad so that he can continue to honor his dark god and grow crazy facial hair without having to land a day job like the rest of us slobs, so he sets out to capture his two nieces and get down to business.

    What he doesn’t count on is some odd changes in the sisters’ lives. Sapna has turned into an unemployed hottie (with an incestuous rapist cousin!) while Aarti has gone into hiding. The cousin, the rapist guy, tries to bone poor Sapna and winds up with her half of the locket, complicating things to a fair extent when he tries to throw everyone off of the treasure’s trail so that he can find it and horde it all for himself. What a dick. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t count on the evil uncle’s black magic being real enough to do him serious harm.

    The story wanders around all over the place and moves at a pace best described as completely spastic but Tahkana is a pretty fun movie in its own right. It’s got enough funny lighting, crazy bad guy hideout sets and dumb monsters to ensure that it’s never dull, and the pair of hot female ladies who head up the cast help keep things easy to look at as well. The first hour has some slow spots, but stick with it, as it all builds to a fantastic later half in which the evil uncle’s dark god breaks free and kills a bunch of people. There’s also a bonus monkey, some fun song and dance numbers, and a lot of footage of nice looking Indian girls running around the dark in white nighties. Yowza!

    The Bollywood Horror Collection Volume Three: Mahakaal/Tahkana – DVD Review:

    Aside from the fact that the 1.33.1 fullframe transfers are interlaced, they look pretty good and are a bit step up from the presentations in the first Bollywood Horror Collection and on par with the transfers seen in the second. There are scratches and mild print damage present throughout both films but they're not all that distracting, really. Some scenes are in better shape than others but overall, the image is just fine, and quite colorful.

    Both films are presented in their native language, with English subtitles that do a pretty good job of translating everything we need to know, without going into overkill and subbing screams and death cries and what not - the drawback being that some of the music isn't completely subtitled (though the parts that aren't subbed sound like repeated bits so if you pay close attention you can figure it out). The audio is just fine, really. Some background hiss is there and the high end can be a bit shrill sometimes (you'll notice this when some of the women sing!), but there's nothing super terrible here to complain about, especially taking into account where these movies were made, how low budget they were, and the source material available.

    The most substantial extra on this release is a twenty-five minute documentary that covers the ‘basics’ of what makes Bollywood and Lollywood genre films so interesting. It explores some of the cultural roots of this material and includes some fantastic clips to prove its various points – good stuff, and if you don’t watch it, you’re missing out. Mondo Macabro also provides a few text pieces that provide some welcome background information on the cast and crew responsible for these films, as well as original theatrical trailers for both features. Aside from that, look for some animated menus and chapter selection options... and of course, the even expanding Mondo Macabro promo reel.

    The Bollywood Horror Collection Volume Three: Mahakaal/Tahkana – The Final Review:

    Mondo Macabro’s Bollywood Horror Collection Volume 3 is the best one yet – fright glove fans, watch out, because you can’t live without this.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jack J's Avatar
      Jack J -
      I'm so happy I bought these sets when they came out. I've just checked this one on Amazon and the cheapest seller has it listed at $200!!!