This film differs from other bad horror movies in that it’s a Bollywood horror movie. This means many large-scale musical numbers, much over the top melodrama, a two-and-a-half hour running time and a painfully low budget. In other words, this is one seriously deranged flick!
Released in 1986, WOHI BHAYANAK RAAT (THAT SAME HORRIFYING NIGHT) was written and directed by Vinod Talwar, one of the Hindi film industry’s premiere horrormeisters. It’s about as good as these films get, meaning the Hindi—or Bollywood—film industry isn’t exactly known for its genre fare. After all, it’s a little difficult scaring audiences when you’ve got a micro-budget and a musical number every ten minutes or so, both factors being Bollywood staples.
This film also follows the Bollywood party line with its two-and-a-half hour running time (most Bollywood flicks run two-and-a-half to three hours) and compulsive genre-hopping (there’s horror, obviously, but also Kung Fu action, slapstick comedy and a sappy romance). Where it differs from Bollywood tradition is in the none-too-subtle sexual overtones and graphic violence…Indian films are governed by censorship that makes the old Hayes Code look like the French ratings board, and this film broke several taboos. Needless to say, it was a big hit in its homeland.
On a stormy night (we know because we see several inserts of cheesy lightning flashing in a cartoon sky) a pregnant woman stops off at an old castle. A bad move, as it turns out, since the castle is haunted by a centuries-old vampire who a). possesses the woman’s newborn baby, b). psychically decapitates her companions, and c). takes a stroll.
From there, our anti-hero goes to discos and causes women to fall under his spell (he zaps ‘em with cartoon rays shot from his eyes!) and then takes them back to his castle where (it’s implied) he rapes them and drinks their blood. Eventually, though, he comes upon an unwitting young woman who turns out to be the reincarnation of a centuries old lover (reincarnation is a major theme in Bollywood), much to the consternation of her boyfriend.
As expected, it’s all extremely cheesy, particularly in the astonishingly primitive special effects–note the way in which the vampire transforms from a good looking stud into a “scary” monster: by simply dissolving from one incarnation to the other. Also note the many obtrusive zooms in and out (a device that went out with the seventies in most countries, but apparently not in India). The acting, of course, is uniformly awful.
For all that, Vinod Talwar manages to pull off some memorably intense set pieces, in particular a disturbing bit with a bikini-clad woman dragged around by her hair (a scene that caused quite a stir when the film was originally released) and an attempt by the antagonist to run down the heroine with a car. Of course, that two-and-a-half hour running time is a mite annoying, but for true bad movie buffs, this is required viewing.
WOHI BHAYANAK RAAT (THAT SAME HORRIFYING NIGHT)
Director: Vinod Talwar
Producers: S.R. Talwar, Vinod Talwar
Screenplay: Vindod Talwar
Editor: Tara Singh
Cast: Rohan Kapoor, Neeta Puri