Monday, December 28, 2015

4DK's five most read posts of 2015

My plans to revive the 4DK Annual Search Term Tweet-athon this year were scuttled by the fact that both Google Analytics and Blogger no longer provide a comprehensive accounting of search terms (boo!) However, while I am thus unable to let you in on some of the misbegotten notions that have lead the confused, booze-addled and horny to wash up on the shores of 4DK, I can tell you what those people who came to 4Dk intentionally were most often seeking out—and in most cases by using search terms that matched exactly the titles of the five films listed below.

5. Tarzan & King Kong (India, 1965)
It’s easy to imagine the excited pitter-pat in the heart of the expectant genre film fan upon first contemplating the title Tarzan & King Kong and all that it promises. It is also easy to imagine the crashing disappointment experienced by that same genre film fan upon discovering that the King Kong referred to in that title is nothing more than an obese Hungarian wrestler. Fans of Indian stunt film king Dara Singh will be further crestfallen to learn that, despite Dara’s prominence on the VCD cover, it is his little brother, Randhawa, who plays the titular hero.

Still, while Tarzan & King Kong might seem like it was carefully calibrated to smash movie nerd expectations, it is actually a very entertaining picture, thanks in large part to game performance from a cast of Indian B movie stalwarts like the great Bela Bose and a pre-stardom Mumtaz (who teaches Tarzan how to do the Twist) and an enthusiastic rolling out of a wide assortment of cheesy jungle movie perils. Nonetheless, I suspect that it is the promise, and not the reality, of that title that has led so many to come to my review of the film. And, true, while many of those readers may have come away disappointed, chances are that they were not as disappointed as those who came to it using the search term “Dara Singh and Mumtaz hot sex”.

4. Haseena Atom Bomb (Pakistan, 1990)
Given that a considerable portion of 4DK’s readers come from Pakistan, it should perhaps come as no surprise that three of the five films on this list are from that country. What is surprising to me is that, while I have also covered films from Pakistan’s Punjabi and Urdu speaking regions, it is only films from the country’s Pashto region that have placed in the top five. By way of explanation, let me say that Haseena Atom Bomb is something of a standard bearer for Pashto cinema. Are all Pashto films as jaw droppingly trashy as Haseena Atom Bomb is? No, they are not. But an awful lot of them are. My 2009 review of Haseena spent a number of years as 4DK’s most read post, and it is admittedly a little sad to see her knocked off her pedestal. Still, I think you will agree that her successor is a worthy one.

3. Teri Meherbaniyan (India, 1985)
My review of Teri Meherbaniyan started as a series of drunken tweets that were mostly for the benefit of my wife, who was laid up in the hospital at the time. I think these tweets succinctly communicated the WTF flavor of the Teri Meherbaniyan viewing experience, although the film ultimately demanded much more of me, with this review being the result. The onus of Teri Meherbaniyan’s utter uniqueness rests entirely on the narrow shoulders of one Brownie, The Wonder Dog, from whose perspective much of the story is told. And be forewarned that this is no Disney-esque tale of a loyal pup making his adorable way across the countryside to be reunited with his loving family. On the contrary, it is a bloody revenge tale rife with slasher movie beats and instances of hallucinatory canine PTSD. It is wholly deserving of its place in the top five, as it is a film that will truly change the way you look at movies and, as such, exactly the type of movie that gives 4DK its reason for being.

2. Adam Khor (Pakistan, 1991)
Another Pashto film, Adam Khor features a rampaging, sasquatch-like creature, a monkey riding a horse, and a dirt-encrusted Badar Munir rising up out of the ground like a hypertrophic dust bunny. As I noted in my 2011 review, it also contains everything that you’d expect from a Pashto film of its era, including “lots of throaty yelling, fat ladies in wet clothing dancing, and an abundance of loud gunfire and punching sound effects in places where none were manifestly called for.” It also holds a place of pride(?) in the history of Pakistani cult cinema for being the first in a wave of horror-themed Pashto action films that ultimately lead to…

1. Da Khwar Lasme Spogmay (Pakistan, 1997)
Given it appeals less to academic types than it does to couch barnacles like myself who can’t be troubled to bring even a rudimentary understanding of a film’s native language to its appreciation, Da Khwar Lasme Spogmay is mostly known on these shores as Cat Beast. I think that its wide cult appeal is due to the fact that, while it is to a large extent an almost frighteningly idiosyncratic foreign horror film, it is also something of a superhero fantasy. Director/star Shehnaz Begum’s Hulk-like transformation into a squalling cat monster is even more gratifying for the fact that she is doing so in order to maul to death a cartoonish assortment of glowering rapists and sex perverts—making for a film that is less I Spit on Your Grave than it is I Bury My Poop on Your Grave. Such is the demand for this insane oddity that I have not only covered it on 4DK, but also on the most recent episode of the Infernal Brains, the podcast that I co-host with Tars Tarkas. Of course, I am not the only person to have written about it; it has been widely covered elsewhere on the internet, and often with as much or more insight than I brought to the task--which makes me that much more grateful that my take on it has become such a reader favorite.

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