About a year and a half ago my good friend Mr. W (some guy on some other job is Mr. Brown) came out from Chi town to visit me in Lala land and brought with him a couple movies he’d been meaning to turn me on to. The list included The Mad (Billy Zane and Zombie meat, can’t go wrong, eh?), Machine Girl, Time Crimes (which deserves its own blog eventually), as well as a couple of others. We spent a week drinking and watching flicks in the late night and got around to pretty much all of them except a flick called Hell’s Ground, which Mr. W was nice enough to leave with me and I was douche enough to all but forget about until… now. When I pulled my living room apart recently and put it back together low and behold there was the copy of Hell’s Ground, a Pakistani horror film, staring me dead in the face. The light bulb went on and finally the other night I popped that fucker in the ol’ DVD macheen and was seriously impressed.

Hell’s Ground, or Zibahkhana in it’s native language, is the brainchild of writer/director Omar Khan and screenwriter Pete Tombs. The film is interesting from an American audience perspective as it basically takes all of our horror movie archetypes and transposes them into a totally different culture. Basic plot line: five young folk lie to their parents and head out overnight to attend a concert. They take a short cut and encounter zombies, a strange and frightening hitchhiker and an old shack where a mother broods over her ‘daughter’ – her youngest son cross-dressed in a woman’s Birka who wields all manner of sharp objects, including but not limited to the biggest damn morningstar mace you’ll hopefully ever see, to pick off our group one by one.

Sound familiar?

Yes, the archetypes here, other than the slightly unprecedented and somewhat unexplained zombies**, are all pretty much filtered through the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre*. Where stateside these days this kind of homage usually gets old it is really quite interesting to see it applied to a foreign culture.

Now, this is modern Pakistan, and as such it’s not quite as different from Western culture as it would have been had this been a period piece of even ten years ago. Still, the differences with which the ‘rules’ of the genre apply play out pretty enjoyably on the screen and the zeal with which the filmmakers approach the gore aspect is especially pretty damn fantastic. All in all, a definite horror buff essential, if for no other reason than Hell’s Ground is fun and everybody knows it’s always good to get a fresh view of what we take for granted from another cultural perspective.

Here’s the trailer:

Drinking game: take a shot for every time the voice over guy says ‘Extreme Horror Film’ during the trailer – I’ll bet you end up wasted!

* Indeed some of the shots, as you can somewhat see in the trailer, are taken almost shot-for-shot from Tobe Hooper’s classic. Where in an American release this would probably constitute my crying foul here it seems performed with more reverence, if only to me because of the ‘translation-of-cultures’ facet of the experience of watching this film.

** And gratefully I can tell you there is a midget zombie amongst them and he is fiesty!!!