Bandh Darwaza (1990)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - May 7, 1990 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 139 min.  |   Countries - India   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This blood-and-thunder epic from the Ramsay Brothers provides an excellent introduction to their Bollywood-minded take on the horror genre. Sure, there are some stock Bollywood elements in play here -- a few song and dance numbers, a smidgen of broad comic relief -- but these elements are deployed with restraint and woven into the storyline with surprising care. Otherwise, the script keeps the horror elements in focus, maintaining a mood of gothic horror and delivering several scary setpieces along the way. Bandh Darwaza repeats itself in places due to the epic running time required by a Bollywood film but the results are never dull thanks to the feverish direction of Tulsi and Shyam Ramsay. Their work is seldom subtle but that's not a criticism, merely an observation of how they approach their story: theirs is a go-for-the-throat aesthetic and they lay on the atmospherics and the shocks with a level of intensity that fans of old-school horror films will enjoy. It also helps that they have a genuinely frightening and intense central performance from Ajay Agarwai as the villainous Neola: he tears into his role with frightful intensity, exuding the kind of dark charisma one associates with Lon Chaney. There are also solid supporting performances from Vijayenda Ghatge as the family patriarch and Aruna Irani, who offers a scene-stealing turn as a duplicitous servant who doubles as an agent of evil for Neola. The end results have a b-movie feel but there's no denying that they bridge the gap between Bollywood and classic horror with a feverish sense of flair.