Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What he said

So I finally got around to watching Pyasa Shaitain. Keith has already eloquently made the case for this masterpiece over at Teleport City, so I will keep my comments about it brief -- with my primary bullet point being that you should not only go read Keith's review of the film right now, but also head over to the ever-reliable and secure a copy for yourself. You won't be sorry -- that is, unless you don't order some other stuff from them and end up paying $15 postage for a $1 VCD. So load up!

In short, Pyasa Shaitan serves as a potent tonic for the jaded cult cinema fan; an undiluted shot of strangeness for those for whom overexposure had seemingly sapped all potential for true strangeness from the movie-watching experience. It also manages to be an effectively unsettling little horror film in its own extremely peculiar way. I agree with Keith's comparison of the film to wild Cat III Hong Kong horrors like The Seventh Curse and Seeding of a Ghost. I also found the way it uses an unrelenting barrage of naive special effects to create a dreamlike, otherworldly atmosphere to be highly reminiscent of both Obayashi's Hausu and certain films by Guy Maddin.

Of course, my suspicion is that this effect is less intentional than it is the result of Pyasa director/writer/star Joginder Shelly's idiosyncratic take on the traditional "everything turned up to eleven" Indian approach to horror filmmaking. Despite the presence of Tamil superstar Kamal Hassan, the film bears a good deal of those telltale sleazy elements that suggest it was most-likely a fairly mercenary, hastily constructed affair. Essentially we're in the same off-kilter ambient horror territory as with the rapidly-becoming-legendary Shaitani Dracula, though in this case with a more sure-handed narrative and visual approach. Mind you, when speaking in relative terms, a film can easily be both more sure-handed and coherent than Shaitani Dracula while still being very close to none of either.

Intentions aside, however, the point is that Pyasa Shaitan is a film that will blow your little mind and rock your plastic fantastic world down to its very core. Chemical accompaniment may be appropriate, though those who choose to take hallucinogens while watching it risk living out their golden years in a rubber room. You've been warned!

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