With news media being what it is these days, when you hear of Pakistan your first thoughts may be of nuclear weapons or terrorist training camps. But if Hell’s Ground is any indication, there’s a more tangible threat on the horizon: the Pakistani horror film. Hell’s Ground is the first original release from Pete Tombs’ and Andy Starke’s influential Mondo Macabro imprint. Tombs has long since established himself as the planet’s foremost authority the “wild side of world cinema,” but Hell’s Ground marks Tombs’ first foray into co-writing and producing an original feature. And when we say original, we mean it -- where else are you going to see a zombie/slasher/splatter flick made almost entirely in Pakistan, by Pakistanis?
You’re probably already familiar with the concept, if not the execution. City kids on a road trip take a shortcut and encounter mutated back-country killers. Dope-smoking bad-asses Vicky, Roxy and OJ, and religious goody-two-shoes Simon and Ayesha, lie to their parents about going on a school field trip, and set out on the highway to see the “hottest band in Pakistan.” While on their way to pick up hash-laced “laddoobie” sweet cakes, the group chances upon the menacing Deewana (played by Rehan, Dracula in The Living Corpse) who warns the kids that they should be preparing for evening prayers rather than heading to rock concerts. His admonition ends as he cackles, “You’re on the road to hell, my children!”
And are they ever. The group’s Scoobie-van voyage takes them not only through rural Pakistan but on a trip through Western horror cinema itself. The film showcases Fulci-esque peasant zombies, a lumbering Texas Chainsaw Massacre-style serial killer, one seriously psychotic mother, and links them together via comic-book interstitials in the vein of EC Comics and Creepshow. That said, these seemingly derivative elements are elevated by the cultural uniqueness provided by the Pakistani backdrop. Zombification occurs because of contaminated water (a serious problem in Pakistan), “Leatherface” wears a burqa, and survival depends on how devout a Muslim you are. Not to mention the killer soundtrack that could singlehandedly have everyone rushing to fill their iPod with classic Pakistani pop. Hell’s Ground is the cinematic equivalent to eating McDonald’s in a foreign country. You pretty much know exactly what to expect, but every so often there’s something on that menu that’ll freak you right the hell out.
“Should put a smile on the face of any fan of the peculiar” - Skylar Gahagan, FEARNET
Hosted by Director OMAR ALI KHAN and Producers ANDY STARKE and PETE TOMBS
Director: Omar Ali Khan
Screenplay: Omar Ali Khan, Pete Tombs
Cast: Kunwar Ali Roshan
Producers: Omar Ali Khan, Andy Starke, Pete Tombs
Distributor: Mondo Macabro/Bubonic Films