Bollywood Horror: Indian A Nightmare on Elm Street/The Monster/Mahakaal (1993, dir. Shyam Ramsay & Tulsi Ramsay)


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This is my very first foray into the genre of Bollywood Horror. In fact, I wasn’t even aware this was a thing. I just knew that while looking for foreign knock-offs of famous American films, this one showed up on my radar. I decided to save it for October. Little did I know that this film came with a decade or so of horror films made by Bollywood prior to it. Even while I called this movie the Indian A Nightmare on Elm Street in the title of this post, it wasn’t really the first one. It’s just the one that is most well-known, and was an intentional remake of the original. Well-known to the point that it was even included in the Elm Street retrospective film Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010). The other is very easy to find, but has no English subtitles.

This movie was done by the Ramsay brothers who were pioneers of the genre. While Khooni Murdaa (1989) wasn’t a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), you can see below why it became an issue for the Ramsay brothers who were in the middle of making their film when it was released.

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Khooni Murdaa (1989, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

As a result, they either tweaked kills from the original movie, kept the style of the kill, or simply went with a kill from one of the other Elm Street movies. Full confession: I have only seen the first two, so I won’t be able to make sure I know which films all of the kills come from. With that little bit of exposition out of the way, let’s have some fun.

The movie begins with a shot of what looks like some sort of humanoid that appears like they are being crucified on a skull. Then the movie goes ahead and gives a shot of Freddy’s eyes.

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Then we meet Seema (Kunika) as she wanders around Indian Freddy’s Boiler Room.

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Eventually she runs into Freddy. Well, she runs into his claws to be more specific.

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Note that she does indeed take it to the the stomach because she will wake up to simply find claw marks on her arm.

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That’s a pretty nasty wound that you’d think she’d show somebody, but she won’t for awhile. Instead, it’s time for the directing credits to show up blinking like an old website before cutting to Anita (Archana Puran Singh) putting up a picture that appears to be somebody fighting a bear.

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If that doesn’t make any sense to you, then don’t worry, because none of the tone whiplash in this movie is going to make sense.

We then meet the family, including her boyfriend Prakash (Karan Shah). I don’t recall anything about Nancy’s mother from A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), but Anita’s father is with the police in this one.

Now we cut to her school where we meet the head of what I assume is the Tutankhamun gang.

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He is telling everyone that someday, Anita will be his. This is as good a time as any to mention that Anita’s regular life in this movie comes across as worse than Freddy coming after her.

Then we cut to what must be a restaurant rather than a cafeteria.

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It was nice of Rambo to make an appearance in this movie. The same goes for Michael Jackson.

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That’s when the movie’s extremely annoying comic relief (Johnny Lever) enters the room. And what song off the Bad album would play for his entrance, but Thriller.

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That was on the Bad album, right?

This guy is less like the “bad” Michael Jackson was singing about, and more like what Huey Lewis & The News were singing about in Bad Is Bad. He’s the worst.

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Now Anita shows up sporting a bandage where she was wounded. For some reason they cut from Seema getting attacked in her sleep to a similar looking woman and her boyfriend. It was confusing, and it didn’t help that IMDb says that Anita is the center of attention, not Seema. I got them screwed up over and over throughout this film till I knew for sure that Seema was dead. Also, the self-referential joke that turns into breaking the fourth wall here isn’t funny. Nothing he says or does is funny.

Oh, and did I mention this guy is the worst with enough emphasis? In case I didn’t, when the Tutankhamun guy shows up, this guy proceeds to sexually assault him.

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Don’t worry, Tutankhamun guy will get his turn to do some sexual assaulting of his own.

Once that is done, we get our first musical number. I’m sure that Wes Craven always intended his film to have musical numbers in them. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt flattered, and thought this movie was hilarious. Stupid, but hilarious. I say that because when you watch the movie, you can tell the Ramsay Brothers were fans of the original. If you cut out the parts that don’t fit for an American market (inappropriate and otherwise), then you actually have an interesting variation on the original that also brought together parts from the other films in the series. As for this musical number, I think the Ramsay Brothers decided to work in From Here To Eternity (1953) for some reason.

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I have to guess at which girl is Anita and which one is Seema here. I believe this one is Anita. This musical number seems to be here just to include breasts…

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and a crotch shot.

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After finding out that Tutankhamun guy’s friend is a fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees based on his shirt, Anita finally shows somebody those gigantic wounds on her arm. Unlike Nancy in the first film, Anita really doesn’t take an active role in fighting Freddy. She’s just kind of there. This is particularly hilarious considering they get their ending from that other big 1984 film that had one of the strongest female leads of the decade.

We now go home with Anita. I am trying very hard to keep these two straight.

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She goes to bed, and we cut to the father looking at a picture on the wall. It’s of his dead daughter. We find out she died seven years prior before cutting to another dream sequence.

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I think I have seen that before.

A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, dir. Jack Sholder)

A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985, dir. Jack Sholder)

That is Anita’s dead sister Mohini (Baby Sweetha) who is here to lead her into another Freddy place.

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Things are getting more serious because Freddy has expanded his repertoire to include Dario Argento lighting.

Suspiria (1977, dir. Dario Argento)

Suspiria (1977, dir. Dario Argento)

While we are down there, we get some genuinely creepy shots. The Ramsay Brothers didn’t have such great success in the genre of Bollywood Horror for nothing. That includes Anita ripping part of Freddy’s face off.

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I absolutely love how the father (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) comes in, and just shrugs the whole thing off as her fault. Let’s take a look at this. Here is how she looks when he enters the room.

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There are clear as day claw marks on her arm, but nobody notices. Not even Anita, till he leaves, which is apparently no reason to call him and her mother (Reema Lagoo) back in for a look. The best part of this is when you can see the mother clearly looking at the claw marks.

Moving on, we get to see that Tutankhamun guy is also a fan of Iron Maiden.

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However, before we have the opportunity to say “2 Minutes to Midnight to kill Freddy”, things go downhill.

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They pin Anita down and squirt her with a garden hose after basically saying they are going to rape her. Luckily, this doesn’t turn into the scene from The Lonely Lady (1983) where Ray Liotta raped Pia Zadora with a garden hose.

The Lonely Lady (1983, dir. Peter Sasdy)

The Lonely Lady (1983, dir. Peter Sasdy)

This uncomfortable scene is broken up with a martial arts scene.

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The same thing happened in Dariya Dil (1988) during a badminton match.

Dariya Dil (1988, dir. K. Ravi Shankar)

Dariya Dil (1988, dir. K. Ravi Shankar)

I guess that’s part of the standard Bollywood formula. They insert martial arts scenes wherever they can. Unfortunately, the bad guys getting the crap kicked out of them is stopped by Anita’s two friends, who are then stopped by administrators at the school this is all taking place at.

After going to the cafeteria, the never funny guy does get in one good line about the scumbags concerning what just happened.

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Remember tone whiplash? It’s time for another musical number right after this sexual assault. For some reason, during it we get this guy dancing like an Egyptian.

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When the car doesn’t work, they have to stop at a hotel.

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Yes, that is the same actor as never funny. There’s another character later that I’m quite sure is played by him as well. I think something is lost in the translation, but I am pretty sure they are poking fun at the running joke from Magnum PI where long lost brothers of Higgins would show up at the estate.

Anyways, the two guys played by the same actor go to peep through a keyhole to watch a woman paint her nails. Don’t worry. She spots them, drags them into her room, and beats the crap out of them. I’m really glad that pointless padding is this movie.

Speaking of padding, let’s cut out the rest of this part and just get to Freddy showing up again. After showing up to chase after Seema, he pins her to the ground.

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Then she dies under a sheet, and her boyfriend Parma (Mayur Verma) goes on the run because he believes that they will try to pin the murder on him. It doesn’t work for him. The police catch up with him pretty quick.

As does Freddy when he lures Anita into a freezer room by making her see Seema’s body come alive under plastic.

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This time he only leaves Anita’s arm with a burn on it.

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Now we reach the point in the film where Freddy spoke to me through the movie to make me aware that the copy I had only wanted to display in widescreen when it was actually 4:3.

Ready for something random again? Now two unrelated women appear, and want to go see an Amitabh Bachchan film. On their way home they are chased by several bad guys when this happens.

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Not funny guy shows up to rescue the girls dressed like Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic character from Shahenshah (1988).

Shahenshah (1988, dir. Tinnu Anand)

Shahenshah (1988, dir. Tinnu Anand)

The character is essentially an Indian version of Batman. If Amitabh Bachchan looks familiar, then you probably saw Piku (2015) where he played the constantly constipated Dad, Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby, or one of his other 200+ acting credits.

What does that scene have to do with anything? Nothing! That’s why after Anita has a short conversation with her mother, Freddy decides to pay a visit to Param in jail. He remembers that the other film already did the hanging thing, so he decides to top that by scratching the walls to make snakes come out of them.

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By the way, we are an hour into this two hour movie, and I was able to keep calling him Freddy because they haven’t said his actual name, nor have they explained why he’s around yet. That’s why Anita wakes up to tell her father Parma is dead, he finds him as such, and he finally decides to tell the family what’s going on.

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Here’s the gist. Freddy’s name is actually Shakaal in this one. The father refers to him as an evil spirit in a human body. He would kidnap children in order to sacrifice them to increase his magical powers. We get a nice little flashback, which shows us his daughter being sacrificed by simply being tossed down a bottomless pit before he can stop it. He locks Shakaal in a coffin and buries him alive. But then he gets home and there’s Shakaal’s glove alive and well hiding behind some drinks.

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He tosses it in the fireplace, which really doesn’t explain why he still had it in a drawer all these years later for this reveal. So, it’s off for Dad and Prakash to go and see if Shakaal is still in his coffin. What they find are pointless explosions…and snakes.

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When that is over, we cut to Anita driving when Shakaal decides to make an appearance. He chases her into an aquarium, and pops up to say hi.

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I love that shot.

Then we get more padding in the form of a foreshadowing holy man. I have to give them credit though. He says they should sever Shakaal’s body in half. Remember that Shakaal’s main thing is his glove. That’s when they cut to Evil Dead chasing after Bruce Campbell camerawork to take us back into Anita’s bedroom to wake her up. Well played.

You know the routine. She wakes up, she finds Shakaal’s glove, and it tries to strangle her.

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There is one difference this time. Shakaal has decided it’s time to start moving away from the first film and into the second one because they find her on the floor of her room fighting as if the glove was actually there.

While the dad is having a drink, Shakaal decides to amp up his attacks. He reveals himself to the father, but is kind enough to disappear in a puff of smoke when he tells him to leave. That’s because Shakaal has got better things to do. First, he has to walk across the living room disappearing, and then reappearing closer to the camera, before he pays another visit to Anita.

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With that little bit of green in his eyes, we now have a possessed Anita.

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The scumbag from earlier makes another run at Anita who is possessed now so that the movie can pad itself out with more marital arts.

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Now it’s off to the disco!

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Sure, you can have another random musical number, but can we leave references to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) to Egyptian Rocky Horror AKA Fangs (1981).

Fangs (1981, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

Fangs (1981, dir. Mohan Bhakri)

After her dance number, possessed Anita leads Scumbag right to A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 (1988).

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My favorite part of this scene isn’t that Scumbag finally gets his comeuppance, but that after Shakaal breaks through the plastic and pulls him under, he magically reseals the plastic.

The next morning Anita wakes up to appear shocked at what happened.

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That’s the last we’ll see of Anita being possessed by Shakaal. Hold on a minute there. That means Shakaal possessed Anita. He then went to school as her where the scumbag tried to stop her and her friends took care of him via fighting. Then Shakaal performed a musical number in front of him to get his juices going. That was followed by Shakaal taking him to his place where he proceeded to tease that they would have sex, then kill him. Afterwards, Shakaal left her body. Sounds like Shakaal did her a favor. Also, this screenshot did me a favor because I finally know that Scumbag is named Randhir (Dinesh Kaushik). He seems to have a been a B-Movie actor, but he did have some role in Sarfarosh (1990), which at the time of writing this is ranked as #65 of the top rated Indian Movies on IMDb.

Not funny and some more padding shows up before we can move on with this movie.

Now we find out that Shakaal is also a fan of Romero.

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Day of the Dead (1985, dir. George A. Romero)

Day of the Dead (1985, dir. George A. Romero)

Finally, Shakaal decides to stop messing around, and just takes Anita in to be sacrificed like her dead sister.

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Leather boyfriend and her family show up to all confront Shakaal. This includes Shakaal taking an axe to his head.

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I’m sure if there were sequels to this movie, then no matter how much of Shakaal’s history they changed, or what actor they had playing him, they would always make sure to acknowledge that axe to the head by putting a dent there.

He also gets impaled.

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But Shakaal finds an alternative power source and pulls it from himself. If you haven’t noticed by know, Shakaal is less like Freddy and more like Jason. He doesn’t talk either like Jason, which people who haven’t seen the Friday the 13th movies say.

After beating up leather boyfriend, Shakaal follows Anita down into his basement where he has a convenient guillotine in it to chop his own legs off.

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Look, as long as crazy looking holy man from earlier said they needed to cut him this way, then it is a totally original thing and not a role reversal with Anita being the one to cause Arnold Shakaal to end up this way. Never mind this scene that follows.

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That’s when leather boyfriend shows up to make use of the convenient hydraulic press.

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I mean spiked ceiling that I don’t know why Shakaal had in his place anyways since he just appears to toss children down pits like he did with Anita’s sister.

With the family all reunited, they can throw “The End” at the screen.

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They sequel bait this with Shakaal’s glove sticking out from his crushed body, but since there are no sequels, it doesn’t matter.

I do recommend this one. It may have come at the tail end of the Bollywood Horror renaissance, but it is fun to see a variation on A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) that doesn’t just copy the concept, but actually tried to stay somewhat true to the original.

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