Monday, August 11, 2008

Movie Review #20: Hell's Ground


The American title for the Pakistani slasher "Zibahkhana," directed by Omar Khan, borrows its plot structure from American horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but succeeds in creating its own unique niche in international horror cinema - quite an achievement from a country who hasn't produced a scary title since the 1970's.

Your typical crew of victims, 5 young Pakistani teens with conflicting personalities, sneak out to attend a rock concert but, of course, never actually make it there. They pile into a rented van and drive out to the forest, taking a shortcut and running into mutated zombies along the way. After a visit to the local medicine man, who warns them that they are on Hell's Ground, one of the teens eats a deadly dose of hallucinogens and they are picked off one by one by a burqa-clad killer waving a spiked ball and chain. As if there weren't enough blatant Western horror cliches staring us in the face, the main characters just never seem to learn in the horror genre, even in Pakistan - the killer never dies after the first try. Our lead female nearly escapes after smacking the killer with a barbed wire stick. She then does what any determined woman would - returns to the body and plunges a stake through his chest dozens of times and leaves spattered with blood, only to run into her friend-turned-zombie for a climactic finish that leaves plenty of room for a sequel. I say bring it on!

Khan seems torn between shooting a zombie movie and a slasher, developing a back story that goes nowhere about people who mutate and feast on blood after being poisoned by the local water supply. The picture quality is terrible, which adds to the feel of the film, but the gore and effects are great. I give this film 4 toes - a fresh take on a genre that has become so repetitive and predictable. And the Bollywood soundtrack makes for a belly dancing good time as well . . .

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