Archive for July 4th, 2009

July 4, 2009

Mini-review: Hotel (1981)

This Ramsay Brothers effort—billed in lurid lettering as “A Suspense Thriller”—is neither suspenseful nor a thriller.

Here, in a nutshell and without screen caps because Ultra DVDs don’t play on my computer, is why:

The Comic Side Plot: While an aging Mehmood romancing an aging Rajendranath under the spell of a love potion could possibly stand on its own as a horror film, that isn’t the intent here, and so it merely interrupts (for long stretches of time) what should be the building suspense as hotel guests are killed off one by one.

The Lack of Killing: Tiptoeing around the delicate sensibilities of the censors might get the film released, but it’s not horrifying if nobody is actually shown being murdered. An actor covered in garish red “blood” after the fact isn’t disturbing, at least not appropriately.

The Wig: No mere script, no matter how full of gore and ghouls, could ever compete with the horror that is Rakesh Roshan’s auburn wig. Zombies simply pale in comparison.

The Songs: Two people singing happily about their love for each other also kind of diminishes the suspense. And although I’m a big fan of Usha Khanna, her music for this film is just plain dull, much like the film itself.

The Budget: A landslide of styrofoam boulders which could be easily pushed aside is not even a little alarming, never mind fear-inducing. Marauding undead obviously fashioned from papier-mache and old sheets aren’t scary either.

The Acting: Most of those under attack seem only mildly afraid, even bored at times. This makes it very difficult for me to be afraid for them. Monotonous high-decibel dialogue delivery also encourages me to want certain people to die, if only to save my own ears (yes, Ranjeet, I’m talking to you, although it pains me greatly to say so).

The Story: Maybe the fault of the censors again, but all the victims are awful people and basically deserve to die. Good people are spared (unless they are canine). Where’s the suspense in that? Horror is supposed to strike randomly, at anyone, anywhere, any time. Otherwise, we shareef aadmi can just sit smugly by with our glasses of wine.

I do want to give the Ramsay Brothers mad props for trying to make a horror film despite being saddled with circumstances and traditions that engender no real hope of success. However, if Hotel didn’t frighten me, it isn’t going to frighten anyone.

So far, my venture into Hindi cinema’s horror fare is not going that well (or else it is, since I don’t like being scared). But I have high hopes for Shaitani Dracula, although I doubt I can improve on this review.

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