Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 12th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: India, 1993 (Mahakaal), India, 1989 (Tahkhana)
Directors: Tulsi Ramsay, Shyam Ramsay
Cast: Karan Shah, Archana Puran Singh, Johnny Lever, Mayur, Reema Lagoo, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Baby Swetha, Mehnaz, Sunil Dhawan, Asha Patel, Dinesh Kaushik, Mahavir Bhullar, Kunika (Mahakaal),Hemant Birje, Aarti Gupta, Sheetal, Trilok Kapoor, Narendra Nath, Priti Sapru (Tahkhana)
DVD released: May 19th, 2009
Approximate running time: 143 minutes (Mahakaal), 117 minutes (Tahkhana)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Hindi
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
First and foremost, Mahakaal: The Monster opening acknowledges its main influence Wes Craven’s a Nightmare on Elm Street. In fact at least two of the kills in Mahakaal: The Monster, are blatant variations of deaths scenes from a Nightmare on Elm Street. The plot for Mahakaal: The Monster feels strung together and it wears out its welcome long before its predictable happy ending.
The horror related scenes in the film are very good and at times exceptionally executed. The comedy and song dance parts of the film are painful to watch and not in a terrifying way. At least during one of the musical numbers one of the leading ladies is drenched with water. One thing that is sort of amusing in the film is a character that kind of resembles Michael Jackson and the first time this character appears music from Thriller plays in the background. Also the score for the film features a musical motif that sounds like a musical motif used in a Nightmare on Elm Street.
Tahkhana: The Dungeon - A monster that has been lurking in a dungeon is accidentally freed by a group of friends looking for treasure.
At the core of Tahkhana: The Dungeon is a story about two sisters who haven’t seen each other in years. Each sister has half of a necklace that when put together it makes a map that shows where an ancient family relics have been hidden. The most despicable character in Tahkhana: The Dungeon is a pervert named Shahkal who rapes or tries to rape just about everyone of the female cast. At just under two hours the plot moves along nicely with only a few minor missteps. This film like Mahakaal: The Monster also features a musical number in which one of the leading ladies is soaked by pouring rain. The two actresses, who are cast as sisters in the film Sheetal and Aarti Gupta (Purana Mandir), provided plenty of eye candy.
Mahakaal: The Monster and Tahkhana: The Dungeon, were both directed by Tulsi Ramsay and Shyam Ramsay who also directed Purana Mandir, Bandh Darwaza, Veerana – Vengeance of the Vampire and Purani Haveli – Mansion of Evil. Visually Mahakaal: The Monster and Tahkhana: The Dungeon, are both stylish films that are expertly directed. Performance wise both films come up short with no one performance leaving any lasting impression. Overall Mahakaal: The Monster comes off as nothing more than a Nightmare on Elm Street cone that brings nothing to the table, while Tahkhana: The Dungeon in an enjoyable horror film that has all the ingredients that one would expect from a Tulsi and Shyam Ramsay film.
Mondo Macabro presents Mahakaal: The Monster and Tahkhana: The Dungeon in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratios. There are some mild instances of print damage and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. Both transfers fare well all around with the transfer for Mahakaal: The Monster being the stronger of the two.
Both films come with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Hindi and removable English subtitles have been included. There is some mild background noise and on a few occasions the audio sounds distorted. These minor imperfections are never intrusive.
Extras include text pieces for each film and cast bios that were written by Pete Tombs. The main extra included for this release is a twenty five minute documentary about South Asian Horror that is broken up into three sections India’s Bollywood, Pakistan and Indonesian cinema. For anyone who ever wanted to know more about the cinema that comes from Southern Asia this is another excellent documentary from Mondo Macabro that covers a lot of ground in such a brief amount of time. This documentary was also included on Mondo Macabro’s first Bollywood Horror double feature DVD. Also included with this release is the Mondo Macabro preview trailer which includes clips from titles they have currently released or about to release. Overall another pair of Bollywood horror films get a strong DVD release from Mondo Macabro.