Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 15th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Pakistan, 2007
Director: Omar Ali Khan
Writers: Omar Ali Khan, Pete Tombs
Cast: Ashfaq Bhatti, Sultan Billa, Osman Khalid Butt, Rubya Chaudhry, Rooshanie Ejaz, Najma Malik, Salim Meraj, Haider Raza, Rehan, Kunwar Ali Roshan
DVD released: June 24th, 2008
Approximate running time: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Urdu/English
DVD Release: TLA/Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Synopsis: Five friends on their way to a rock concert get lost after taking a short cut that leads them to the middle of nowhere.
Hell’s Ground is Pakistan’s first splatter horror. Pakistan as a film industry is mostly made up of regional based dramas and comedies. The horror film genre is all but non-existent in Pakistan with a revolutionary film like Hell’s Ground giving the Pakistan film industry a much needed shot in the arm to revive a genre that has never been fully developed in Pakistan. It is the genre that translates the best since no matter what language you speak the language of Horror cinema is universal.
Visually director Omar Ali Khan creates tension and mayhem with limited resources very much in the same way that Tobe Hooper did with his film Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The plot which revolves around five teens on their way to a rock concert does feature some obvious nods to horror film from the past. These tributes are not merely carbon copies of the original as much as they are unique creations unto themselves. The bulk of the film takes place in a van which is appropriately painted with horror related imagery. The characters have more depth than your typical teen horror film with the weaker characters in the film being the killer and the zombies. The death set pieces are bloody, brutal and well executed. The zombies in the film are regulated to a subplot and they never really pose any threat. The killer who is dressed in a Burqa eliminates its prey with many stylish weapons like a spiked ball on a chain.
The film is superbly cast with the five teens perfectly cast. In a secondary role is an actor named Rehan who is most remembered by Pakistani horror film fans for his portrayal in The Living Corpse a Pakistani adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”. The best performance in the film comes from an actress named Rooshanie Ejaz. She plays a character named Ayesha who out of all the characters in the film is the purest. The other four teens that are on the trip with her all try to further corrupt her. In many ways she is an outsider who just wants to fit in with the cool kids.
The cinema of Pakistan is often referred to as Lollywood and the films soundtrack features many songs from several classic Lollywood productions. The film moves along briskly with several precisely timed scares from start to finish. Hell’s Ground’s influences are deeply rooted in Slasher films from America. There is also a Bollywood type feel to the film during its more comedic moments when the five teens are having fun before the chaos starts. Ultimately if you are a fan of body count films that are knee deep in gore and sadistic killings then you will thoroughly enjoy Hell’s Ground.
Hell’s Ground is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The image looks really good throughout with strong colors and natural looking flesh tones. There is no print damage and the image look sharp throughout with solid black levels.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix. The audio mix is in a dual language with most of the dialog in Urdu and the rest of the dialog in English. The audio mix sounds clear, evenly balanced and at times dynamic. English subtitles that are error free and easy to follow have been included.
Extras for this release include a trailer for Hell’s Ground, footage/interviews for Hell’s Ground’s premiere at Lums (7 minutes), a promo music video and a twelve minute documentary titled “Ice Cream Zombieland”. The main extra is a highly informative audio commentary with the film’s director Omar Ali Khan. The remaining extra are trailers for other films also available on DVD from TLA releasing. Hell’s Ground gets a fully loaded DVD release that presents the film to its fullest potential and the extra content thoroughly provides all the details behind this historic production.