Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SHA-KA-KAAL!: Mahakaal: The Monster (1993)

Mahakaal: The Monster (India, 1993)
rating: ***1/2
starring:  Karan Shah, Archana Puran Singh and Johnny Lever

You may have heard of Bollywood flicks; those pieces of cinema from India well known for their distinctive taste for musical, action and romance put together with whatever genre you're watching. If there's another thing I know about Bollywood flicks outside these distinctive traits, it's that they're known to knock off a few Western films. I wouldn't call it plagiarism (or, maybe it is) but due to constraints of rushed production schedules and small budgets, some of directors normally would resort to this. For instance, the slashers Sssshhhh and Kuchh to Hai are two 2003 I Know what you did last Summer rip-offs, but thanks to the secluded nature of the India's cinema as well as most of the public's unawareness to Western media back then, they were easily passed off as their own run.
Well, I'm not here to talk about plagiarisms of Bollywood cinemas. That's the lawyer's problem! No. No, I'm here to review the Bollywood the Nightmare on Elm Street Rip-off, Mahakaal! (or, Mahakaal: The Monster)

Two girls, Anita and Seema, were having dreams involving a burnt man with a razor glove, before waking up and finding themselves wounded in the same manner as they did in their night terrors.When the nightmares became too unbearable, the girls decided to go on a trip and stops by on a nearby hotel when their car broke down.  Seema had the nightmares again, this time finally killing her when the dream man got his grimy claw(s) all over her. The murder got the attention of Anita's father, the head of a local police force, who once took down the perpetrator, a child murdering monster known as Shakaal. Now back to exact his vengeance, Shakaal returns from the grave. Meaner, Angrier and sporting a mullet!

Mahakaal is a two and a half hours long re-adaptation of the original ANOES, sporting a similar plot structure, five measly murders (which the first happened around the 45 minute mark!) and gallons of rip-offed elements from nearly all the Nightmare movies such as the theme, a lazy variation to our nightmare man (Think classic Freddy with gold gloves, wearing this trench coat suit in New Nightmare and, again, a mullet), as well as scenes upon scenes of scares (the "body bag nightmare") and even development. (the "boyfriend was blamed for the murder so he ran and then got captured by pa, only to be killed in his cell" crap)

And it doesn't just stop there; somewhere in the second half, we got a possession side note that was thrown in for no reason (a nod to Freddy's Revenge) and the water bed kill from Dream Master just for the sake of tackling it. Frankly, it's an odd experience sitting through this piece since it covers everything from teen comedy, martial arts, some (failed) rape-revenge angle and the classic bollywood musical dance numbers, finding yourself wondering whether you're watching a horror film in the first place.

With this, the film is uneven in tone with all that craziness; one second we're watching a girl desperately run away from her fate as a human sushi, then next thing you know we're watching her and her boyfriend do a five minute dance-a-thon of how much they love each other. If that's not silly enough, we also have a character named "Canteen" who's into Michael Jackson, dresses up as a vigilante superhero (and oddly, managed to fight off four thugs in process) and fills in comic relief role perfectly with all his antics from being peeping tom to dressing up as a guru.

As if pushing the comedy aspects of the Freddy character up an ante, the film's silly nature is almost bad-cheese worthy, as if a parody of the Nightmare films though ironically the villain hardly talked. Other than doing his sinister laugh, Shakaal never went one-liner happy, making this villain lack much power than his American original. Still, with his clawed glove and burnt face, he does look menacing if not funny at times and even dished out some original variation of the Elm Street deaths.

Make no doubt, Mahakaal is anything but original, though beyond the unoriginality is a movie trying hard to be fun and, at some level between stupidity and creative mess, it worked. It has the feel of a good "bad" grindhouse exploitation movie despite it's 90s release, making it far from a great film but entertaining nonetheless. If you want a bad movie to ruin everything you believed in the Nightmare movies, this is it! (That, or the other ANOES rip-off Khooni Murdaa.)

1 female slashed to death with razor glove
1 male bitten to death by cobras
1 female thrown to pit
1 male slashed to death with razor glove, drowned in water bed
1 male previously buried alive, crushed by a spiked slab
total: 5


  1. I'm going to buy this movie when I get the chance.

    1. have fun and good luck! it's CRAZEH~!