Bandh Darwaza

Director: The Ramsay Brothers
Year:  1990
Rating: 7.0

Aka - Closed Door

I finally got around to watching one horror film for Halloween Month! I am not much of a horror fan in truth so I kept it to a minimum but I am really happy with the choice I made. A horror film from the infamous Ramsay Brothers of India. I have heard about their films for years but had never gotten around to seeing any till now. The people who told me about them who are fans usually prefaced it with they are really low budget, out of the Bollywood mainstream, totally cheesy, trashy (for Indian films) and all horror films. That didn't make me rush out to find any. But what they never got across to me was just how much insane over the top frantic fun they are. At least this one.  It goes on for probably too long for the patience of many - 143 minutes - but once it gets past the set-up and into the present day it is a rollicking ride of crazy that never lets up. Something is always happening on the screen - it might be a musical number (4 of them), a little romance, kung-fu bashing, a demon biting necks, minions being minions, wild chases, sacrifices and so on. Pretty much anything they could think of. I won't say it is scary but it has some terrific imagery that may slowly creep like a spider into my dreams tonight.

The father of the Ramsay Brothers came to Bombay during the Partition, set up an electronics shop and got busy having seven sons who later all worked together to make about 30 films. Like everyone who lives in Bombay, the heart of Bollywood, they wanted to be in the film business. They began with attempts at a few serious films that bombed but then stumbled on the idea of horror. Back in the late 60's/early 70's there just wasn't much in the way of horror in Bollywood for some reason. The Ramsay Brothers broke the mold with these crazy, all over the map horror films with vampires, gore and various other monsters. The films never had much of a budget, never got big stars, never played the big theaters but they had a niche following and still do though as best as I can tell their last film was in 1996.

Nevla is in many ways your basic vampire - has a need for fresh female blood from time to time, sleeps in a coffin, allergic to sunlight and hard to kill. He resides in the Black Mountains in a ruined old temple with his many helpers. His acolytes are always looking for new talent and when Mahua (Aruna Irani -  a top vamp actress in the 1970s) hears that unless Lajja produces a child, her husband will find a new wife. So with a little persuasion Lajja  does what any wife would do - goes to Black Mountain and has sex with the vampire. The deal is if it is a boy, you can keep it; if a girl Black Mountain gets her. It is a girl but mom won't give her away and she is killed and so is the vampire. So we think. But it's a vampire. Nothing a little blood won't fix.

Years pass and the little girl Kaamya grows up to be a horny young woman making come on passes atKumar, the hunk who lives down the street. But Kumar loves Sapna and so with the help of the Black Mountain she gains a book of spells and uses them on Kumar. But the Vampire has other plans for her. And then so much happens that I could barely keep up with it. Running helter-skelter like a Marx Brothers movie without their heads. A smorgasbord of goodies.

As in so many horror films, people act really stupidly - they go out alone at night, they leave the women unprotected at home, they don't tie down ones with vampire marks on their neck, they keep going to Vampire Hq without weapons, they pick up strange women on the road at night and then near the end one of them pulls out a Hindi symbol that acts like a crucifix and I have to wonder why he didn't tell everyone about this 2 hours ago. But behaving stupidly is often the bedrock of horror films. Now that I have been initiated into the Ramsay Brothers films, I will have to track down some more.  Oh, the other actor I knew was the most irritating man in Indian films - Johnny Lever in a small part.