With different sets of cultural taboos and sub-psychological fears, other countries have routinely come up with interesting takes on horror films. Not so much with India. Bollywood's horror boom was late in coming; until the early 1980s, the biggest screen thrills in India came from cut-rate monster movies. After that, it was cut-rate supernatural thrillers and a clutch of restrained interpretations of American slasher flicks. Even for lovers of Indian cinema, the country's horror output has always been the guiltiest of guilty pleasures, and this two-DVD presentation of two late-period atrocities proves why. Bandh Darwaza is the main feature; released in 1990, it nonetheless looks like it was filmed in 1974 ' and the suave vampire plot would have been dated even then. (The central drama is of a woman who can't bear children, despite going 'barefoot to the temples,â?� and therefore ascends the Black Mountain to get some vampire lovin'.) Oh yes, there are song-and-dance numbers, some of which manage to be sexy and slightly satanic. Purana Mandir (1984) is the other film, and it's far better than Bandh Darwaza. It's less a copycat of American horror tropes and more Indian exploitation, right down to the overcooked effects and absurd monster.
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