Time for some “old school” horror goodness, South Indian style, with a look at the wacky 2009 film “Aa Intlo”. Like their Bollywood cousins, the Telugu film industry churns out some surprisingly crazy horror goodies… but unlike the more well known Hindi horror movies, these lil’ gems are woefully unknown for the most part outside of India itself. Luckily for you, a certain crazy Catgirl has been casting her net wide to sample some of those odd lil’ films of late, and come up with a few to watch, this one among them.
Our synopsis goes like this: “Pavan (Chinna) and Pallavi (Mayuri), move into a new house with their two kids. Pavan is an atheist, contemptuous of all things mystical or spiritual, but shown as a man who is concerned about the sacred Basil plant drying up countless times at the sacred shrine in the portico of his family’s new house. He is also puzzled and curious about other strange occurrences that begin to plague his happy family; the odd weeping sounds that fill the house at night, his wife falling deathly sick and getting hysterical periodically, the weird deaths of his maid and his wife’s best friend, and finally his son becoming aggressive and violent. All of these things culminate in the constant arguments that begin to create a distance between the once loving couple and threaten to end their happy lives together…. if not destroy them all!
The Trailer…. well lets just say that once yours truly saw this one I just knew I had to hunt it down for a look-see. It’s got thunder and lightning, bloody murder, flying ghost women, an ominous zombie killer, some freaky orange haired Swami, and even a deformed servant right out of an old Universal horror movie. Could I not give it a try? Not when Indian DVD’s are soooo darn cheap!! ;)
Thinking it’s a film you’ll just have to see as well? Then follow your favorite Catgirl Princess as she gives you the details….
Mmmmm!! How a certain silly woman likes her Indian horror films! While they often lack the polish and look of Western made films, these spunky lil’ films more than make up for it with an enthusiastic gusto and over-the-top style that has all but been forgotten here the the US. “Aa Intlo” is certainly one of those sorts of movies alright….
We waste no time shoveling on some of the old horror movie elements you might expect, as our film begins on one of the dark eerie nights, with gloriously over-saturated colored letters forming and dissolving into reddish mist against a blue lit background…. an ominous robed figure stalks out of the night towards a lonely moonlit house… the title literally bleeds onto the screen in blood red letters as our killer opens the door with his evil magical power surprising a young boy at play. One look at this chubby zombified thing is all our poor boy gets before his throat is sliced, ear to ear. Moments later, his little sister bursts into the room, only to get grabbed and thrown against a wall, her skull splitting like an egg. Her screams bring her pretty mother running to see what’s happening and she becomes the murderous fiend’s next victim, his knife stabbing her to death before he smashes his way into the father’s bedroom. There a clumsy scuffle occurs before the man is able to break free, running from the house and into a desolate foggy landscape of twisted rocks, our monstrous killer always mere steps behind him no matter how fast he runs. It’s no use…. there’s no escape and eventually he trips and falls, letting the killer catch up, and snatch up a huge bolder to smash his head to bloody ruin…… A fate he escapes only by waking up from his terrifying nightmare.
Oh yeah…. and this is only the first 10 minutes of our film. Subtle, this one ain’t. Trust this wee Catgirl. ;)
Basically, this one is the standard “young couple and their family move into the haunted house” story. We’ve all seen it a million times before…. sometimes in English, or if you too watch the sorts of films Neko does, you’ll have seen it in Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Malay, Indonesian, Tagalog, Turkish, French, Spanish and every other conceivable language imaginable. There’s nothing new here… but as I’ve often said, sometimes familiar themes and stories can be a good thing, especially if there are subtitles involved.
Our family this time out consist of our main hero, Pavan, his pretty young bride Pallavi, and their two kids. There’s a couple of Maids…. one older woman, and one young one, along with that stalwart genre stereotype of the freaky disfigured custodian and manservant… just to creep everybody out and keep us in the audience watching him with suspicious eyes through the whole movie.
As always, in these sorts of stories, something in the house just hates our lil’ family and wants them all dead. The zombie guy from Pavan’s nightmare? You’d think that…. but you’d be wrong. No, this Evil has a whole other agenda. Just what that is seems puzzling for the most part as it goes about the usual routine of possessing folks, killing some, scaring the beejeebits out of most others. About the weirdest part is the odd notion that Pavan has been avoiding his lovely wife’s “romantic desires” for some time now…. and it’s starting to really annoy her. Don’t worry…. there is a good reason… although it’s gonna take most of the film before we find out what that is.
While we wait for that explanation, poor Pallavi starts imagining all sorts of nasty things… like that Pavan is hiding his affair with their younger maid. She’s frustrated, and reached the point where being subtle about her needs and desires is completely impossible and she spends much of our movie seesawing between hating Pavan and wanting her husband to show her the love he once freely shared. Ahhh…. and then she gets possessed by the Evil spirit….. you can imagine how complicated that makes things….
Given that our Hero is that Hindi film stereotype of the “Modern Man”…. free from a belief in the supernatural, the mystical, and openly skeptical of Religion… we get a lot of those plot elements where the Evil force can run amok, unchecked by anybody, especially the crazy orange haired Swami guy wandering around the area. Does he know whats up? Of course he does… but it’s his job in the movie to be all mysterious and freaky, so don’t expect him to just come right out and tell us what’s really going on. Neither does our handy “psychic astrologer”…. he just keeps telling Pavan that his wife’s horoscope tells him she’s already dead. So… errr… ummm… just what the heck is going on anyway?
It’s “Spoiler Alert” time…. ;) Now the bad news is that our movie relies upon one of those stupidly complicated story twists you get in Indian film. Sigh… those Neko is never fond of. It requires the audience to believe that…. for reasons that always make absolutely no sense… our main character has managed to completely forget some tragic event earlier on that nobody in their right mind could ever, ever forget in a million years. Like the fact that Pavan once had a crazy woman he worked with fall madly in love with him. Oh yeah…. and after he spurned her sexual advances one dark and rainy night, telling her he would never make love to any woman but his beloved Pallavi, she went home and shot herself in the head. Yeah… must have slipped his mind… especially since the house he’s moved his family into was once hers… and it was here she shot herself. D’ohhh!! Don’t you just hate coincidences like that?
Yep…. it’s her ghost that has been bothering them all along, not “zombie guy” afterall. Worse…. the weird seizure that Pallavi had that hospitalized her actually killed her. Pallavi is possessed alright…. but she has been all along throughout the entire movie, and that whole “horny housewife” thing has been that scorned spirit seeking to seduce Pavan in revenge. Thank goodness the doctor had given him orders to abstain from sex so as not to stress his delicate wife into having another attack like the one she “survived”….. (Ha! Bet the horny ghost never expected that!! ;) )
Ok…Ok. By the time Pavan figures that out… and finally gives up his skepticism in order to do something about it, the only logical thing left would be to find a suitably powerfully Holy Guy to fight the vengeful selfish spirit in our effects laden climax. Thankfully there’s a fairly scary temple to Kali the Destroyer handy, and it isn’t long before Pavan, the Swami, and our resident Priest get to do the whole “Indian Exorcist” thingee to drive away the woman’s begrudged spirit and let Pallavi’s body be properly cremated. There’s lots and lots of ghostly throwing of people around and flying, morphing ghost women, but eventually our Hero defeats her through the power of sincere prayer and faith in the Hindi Gods. After that things ought to be finished right? Naaaaawwww… naturally our Hero can’t just take the kids and drive away to a better life far from this scene of tragedy and Evil…. instead there’s just one last trip back to the house so they can see Pallavi’s ghost and the ominous final caption, “The story continues…” After all, gotta set things up for “Aa Intlo 2″. ;)
All in all, this one ended up sharing all the best, as well as all the worst, things that Indian horror film have to offer. Do you like really well written films with believable characters and comprehensible cohesive plots? Then this one just ain’t it. Want a wild movie with lots of scary noises, gruesome bloody murders, and goofy monsters? Ahhh… now we’re talking. This one is less sophisticated than most modern Hindi efforts, which are really starting to get very polished and professional looking. However, if you have fond memories of those old Ramsay Brothers horror films from the 80’s then “Aa Intlo” will be a treat. It has that very “retro Hindi horror” look about it from start to finish and to me anyway, was a fun little movie to eat my popcorn and giggle my way through vicariously enjoying every minute of the silly scary fun. This Catgirl, given my admittedly odd tastes in film, feels good in giving it a very fair 3 “Meows” out of 5. Definitely not a film for everybody, but one fans of this genre ought to like well enough for an evening’s fun.
Not an easy film to find…. I needed to actually import this one directly from India. The good news? Indian DVD’s are super cheap and this one should run you about 8$US if you can actually manage to find a copy. It’s presented bare bones, with no Trailers or special features, in an NTSC Region Free widescreen letterboxed format. The DVD I saw was mastered from a somewhat dogeared film print…. scratches and flaws galore.. but in a way, that actually made the film look even more like a true “retro Hindi horror” from the good old days. The English subtitles, while not inspired, were accurate and sufficient to make the movie accessible to those of use not fluent in Telugu.
Ahhhh…. and… nearly as tough to find as the film itself, I managed to score a Trailer to whet your appetites. Enjoy!!