Today’s review is for “Zibakhana” aka “Hell’s Ground” the new Pakistani horror fest now out on DVD from the good people who do all those great genre films, Mondo Macabro by way of TLA Releasing under their “Danger After Dark” Label….. Directed by Omar Ali Khan, who’s filmsite, thehotspotonline, is an old favorite of Neko’s for it’s great reviews of practically unknown Bollywood/ Lollywood horror films, this one is just sooooo downright strange and Your Favorite Catgirl Princess couldn’t wait to get her lil’ paws on a copy!
Yes…yes… this lil’ Catgirl knows that the Pakistani and Indians are a bit touchy when forced to live near each other…. But here at “Neko’s Litterbox” it’s all one big happy Movie lovin’ world, so I filed this one under the same Category as I do Hindi films. It’s my opinion as an outsider that they share more in common than even they see…anyway “Can’t we all just get along?” Hehehehe!!
But all that stuff aside….Let’s take a peek and see if it’s a winner or not… “Read On” dear people!!
So…let’s see, this one uses that tried and true old plot line you’ll recognize from about a gazillion other slasher films from the late 70’s and early 80’s, made anywhere, either with or without Zombies….
There, they are warned by a weird shopkeeper (played by Rehan, the famous Pakistani Dracula in Mondo’s “The Living Corpse“) that if they continue being such impious Muslims, forsaking prayer, and continuing on this path, and they will find themselves in “Zibakhana” or Hell’s Ground and suffer for their Sins. Naturally, they completely ignore his warnings as the ravings of some goofy “old dude” and continue on their way. Last Mistake……
Unfortunately, as the result of the polluted rivers nearby, the countryside is overrun with crazed flesheating Zombies, lunatics, some psycho yogi, and an insane hulking killer dressed in a bloody burqua and armed with the usual collection of “Pointy Weapons of Dreadfully Painful Death”. Of course they have to run out of gas right in the middle of this Allah-forsaken place…..
One by one, they soon pay for their Sins….as the killer stalks them through the haunted countryside. Will any survive? Neko-chan knows you know the answer to that one…right?
If you were expecting something new and fresh in the horror genre from “Hell’s Ground”, then you’ve missed the whole point of the film. This one isn’t about breaking any new ground, it about celebrating a and reveling in the goofy conventions that made such films drive-in classics back in the day. Both Omar Ali Khan and Pete Toombs love these old films and it shows here….. Where “Hell’s Ground” truly shines is when you realize what an amazing accomplishment it was to make such a film today in Pakistan…. with practically no budget….. and have it come out so remarkably good. Neko tends to refer to much of the Bollywood/ Lollywood horror classics as “craptacular”…. and that’s usually being kind. This film is head and shoulders above any of it’s closest competitors made in the region.
If Neko has any quibble at all, it’s that the Zombies seemed so…. well….unnecessary to the plot at all. They just sorta are there…. there isn’t a lot of them, and the entire “pollution” subplot seems like it was something that the filmakers didn’t want to push very heavily for fear of provoking the Pakistani authorities…. Without them, there is still plenty of the bloody action needed for a film like this…. Maybe if they do a sequel we’ll get to see them rampage through the slums of Islamabad…….
The actors, all local talent, are very good and fit the material well. They give a very contemporary look to the youth of Pakistan, and don’t seem to be caricatures or lame attempts to “westernize” the staple roles of this sort of film at all. All of the favorites are here: The Rich Kid, the “Stoner” best friend, the “Baaad” girl, the “Good” girl and the Nerdy Guy with the “Secret Crush”….. all we need is “Scooby Doo”….(or should that be “Scooby Khan”?) to make things complete.
The spec for this release are as follows:
- NTSC Region 1
- Urdu and English Audio (Mixed language usage the way Hindi films do) with English Subtitles
- Anamorphic Widecreen
- Ice Cream Zombieland – featurette about director Omar Khan
- Zuj promo – pop promo made for the Pakistani rock singer Zuj
- LUMS Premiere – footage from the Pakistani premiere at LUMS
So in conclusion, Neko gives this one a firm 4 “Meows” out of 5 for being a nice homage to crazy old slasher/ zombie cinema made lovingly by people who remember how much fun such terrible, terrible films like this can be. Not only that, but it can be made in a part of the world that isn’t even knows for such films…. Bravo. (Psssst! And where can this lil’ Catgirl get one of those “Spikey Ball Thingees of Death”….soooo ridiculous and cool!!)
Of course…there’s a Trailer and here it is….courtesy of the good folk at Mondo Macabro…