Saturday, March 7, 2009

Zombies, yaar

Zibahkhana, a.k.a. Hell's Ground (2007)

Maybe it's just me -- okay, it's almost certainly just me -- but I find it reassuring that even in Pakistan, horror movie teenagers sneak out to rock concerts, smoke a lot of pot, and say "I'll be right back" when there's something nasty lurking in the darkness.

In "Pakistan's first gore film," the road trip of five friends (or "Paanch Dost," as the trailer mournfully intones, causing me to cry "Hey, I know Urdu!") leads them into an area where the villagers are protesting against contaminated water. (And well they should, since it seems to turn them all Night of the Living Dead). Then their van runs out of gas in the turf of a character I can only describe as Leatherface in a burqua.

Cult star Rehan shows up as the eccentric owner of Deewana's Chai Stall, and denies that he's the actor who appeared in 1967's The Living Corpse (a.k.a. Dracula in Pakistan), but it provides the opportunity to re-use a few clips. (Sadly, those are his only two credits, at least on the IMDB).

As for the kids in the van, they certainly have more personality than the ones in the new Friday the 13th movie. The two girls had the most memorable roles: as Roxy, the jaded and bitchier girl, Rubya Chaudhry got the best reaction shots, and it actually seemed believable that she was friends with these people. The similar role in many horror movies makes you wonder why her character is even there, other than that the script wants different "types."

Fellow newcomer Rooshanie Ejaz also made an impression as the Final Girl, a good daughter who's never lied to her mother before, but is refreshingly able to defend her life with force and ingenuity. She also wears a religious pendant around her neck, and is embarrassed to have her cooler friends see it, just like an overtly Christian character might be about wearing a cross.

The special features include some background on filmmaker Omar Ali Khan, whose day job is running an ice cream shop decorated with horror posters and Movie Maniacs action figures. I don't know of an ice cream shop that awesome in the United States. One of the posters is for Planet Teror, which seemed especially appropriate. Because of its low budget and old-school gore effects, Hell's Ground came across as a more an authentic drive-in/grindhouse homage than Grindhouse was.

No comments: