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STUDIO:  TLA
MSRP: $19.99
RATED:  UNRATED
RUNNING TIME: 78 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Director’s Commentary
- Ice Cream Zombieland Documentary
- LUMS Premiere – Interviews and Speeches from the Pakistani Premiere
- Zuj Music Promo
- Original Trailer

 

The Pitch

The Pakistani Chainsaw Massacre or The Hilal’s Have Eyes (perhaps a little geographically incorrect I know, but let me be the ugly American for the sake of a pun I’ll never again have the chance to use).


It doesn’t get a lot of play in the media, but Doll Racism is still alive and well in certain parts of the US.



The Humans

Directed by Omar Ali Khan
Starring Kunwar Ali Roshan, Rooshanie Ejaz, Rubya Chaudhry, Haider Raza, Osman Khalid Butt, Najma Malkid, Sultan Billa, Salim Meraj, Razia Malik and Rehan


The Pakistani Star Wars facsimile was a little too literal as best exemplified by the character Mace Windup.



The Nutshell

A group of teens, heading for an evening of music and vices (sex, drugs and the like) opt for the ultimate in horror movie foolishness: a shortcut. As to be expected, this leads them deeper into an unknown place where they run of gas and have to rely on the natives for help. Unfortunately for them the natives either eat flesh or mutilate it. It’s up to these teens to rally together (or ignorantly split apart, you guess which they opt for) to fight the menaces that lurk in the night in order to
survive until morning.


…that they had ventured into the special township of Cumrock Falls.



The Lowdown


The story is a familiar one, over familiar at that: a group of teenagers head into the country for a few days of debauchery and music and then they get lost and then they have car trouble and then, like clockwork, they’re being stalked by something brandishing a weapon of savage import (in this case, a motherfucking flail, a nice variation on the machete or hook, one must admit) looking for their tainted blood. If only they would have followed the straight and narrow (virginal) path, none of this carnage would have befallen them. But them’s the cards fate deals you (the Joker in fate’s deck has a burka with one eyehole and a flail, for your edification). However, as countless splatter and exploitation pictures from our country’s long and rich history of violence in exchange for cash have proven, it’s not the genre that you use, it’s how you use the genre. However, Hell’s Ground, touted as the first Pakistani-made splatter picture, has very little going for it beyond that label.


Of all of Derek’s film memorabilia, he was proudest of his Vic Morrow.



Often good horror films have social commentary in them that even evade some of our most eagle-eyed critics in the mainstream. Generally all of this Sturm und Drang usually adds up to something tangible, a sign of the times perhaps, or a comment on the fallen aspects of the current social landscape. There is a bit of social commentary to be had in Hell’s Ground: they do manage to tie in some of the bloodshed to the ongoing problem of clean water in Indian regions by having this tainted water being the cause for the madness and bloodlust for the villagers. And in that message lies the most interesting position the film takes; it stands for modernity in the face of the old guard, of moving into the future instead of clinging desperately to the past. The main villain of the piece is a victim of repression that results from traditional notions, and the zombies that populate these backwoods suffer from their devotion to the old way of life even in the face of irrefutable proof that the water they’re ingesting is toxic. Hell, the very act of creating a transgressive sort of film product in a film industry that has yet to create such a thing reflects that notion in and of itself. There’s no culpability to be had in the film though, which is just as well: the government’s lack of a solution results in needless loss of life, message received. So perhaps the most successful facet of the film is its mere existence and how this very fact exemplifies the notion that “you can’t stop what’s comin’”, and to embrace new and diverse genres of film.*


The film’s characters were lucky to have a subscription to The Literal Fonts Picayune.



Despite these brief points of interest, the film fails on the most basic, visceral level:  It’s not scary or exciting. The tension is blatantly telegraphed, to the point where you can imagine a messenger boy approaching one of the main characters and relaying to them, “DEAR TERRIFIED YOUTH STOP YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE ACCOSTED BY A HOMICIDAL MANIAC BRANDISHING A WEAPON WITH WHICH THEY MEAN TO DO YOU MUCH HARM STOP PLEASE MAKE FUTILE ATTEMPTS TO ESCAPE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE STOP”. There are groan-inducing shot-outs to the history of horror, and the animated transitions are garish and detract from the reality of the situation the film should be trying to (Hell’s) ground you in. The limited budget means that most of the violence and gore has to be evaded ever so slightly so as to avoid full on shots of carnage, which would mean full-on money put towards said carnage. The acting isn’t superior by any means, but it’s competent, which is to say the kids know how to run and to scream and such. But there isn’t a whole lot going on here to engage the audience member. If you’re a jaded and/or seasoned veteran of the horror genre, this isn’t going to titillate you or interest you because it’s sub-par example of the genre. And even if there’s the curiosity factor of a country finally reaching out into this genre of film, there’s very little to offer on those grounds either besides that discussed above. Only for the hardcore aficionados or historical film nerds.


Dawn of the Dinklage.

The Package

The cover art does what any good horror cash grab should do: promise something awesome that couldn’t possibly be delivered on given the budgetary restrictions of the product. Here we see the flail in all its glory, and some pretty gnarly looking zombie in the background, and one might get the idea that they’re in for a fun and pulpy time. Good on TLA for marketing it as such.  The quality of the transfer isn’t up to snuff in our age of “so clean you could eat off it”, but I would probably eat off of this transfer, at least on a bet or dare. It comes with a nice handful of extras to give it the historical context it has earned, including a commentary, an endearing featurette and premiere footage (even more endearing as it reveals the grand premiere to take place in a place the size of your standard American college classroom). A couple of fun (but revealing) promos also are included.


5.4 out of 10


Down Syndrome Vampire was good friends with Motion Sickness Zombie.



*Even if this is a message to be taken from it, there’s going to be your traditional Madonna/whore dichotomy between our virginal heroine and her much more morally lax female counterpart.  That the film couldn’t sidestep this age-old convention is unfortunate.  Even acts of progression can’t escape the old standards of conservatism.