Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Stranglers Of Bombay (1959)

There are elements of The Stranglers Of Bombay that are easily enjoyed, but it's hard to just sit back and enjoy a movie that is such a relic from a bygone age, in many ways. One of those movies showing when the might of Great Britain stretched far overseas, into areas that had been colonised by, according to the movies, tea-drinking gentlemen who would sometimes look upon the locals with amused curiosity, and occasionally afford them the respect that they deserved.

It's the early part of the nineteenth century. Lots of people have been going missing, all of them murdered by the Thugee Cult Of Kali. Of course, nobody knows this immediately. An investigation begins, led by Captain Christopher Connaught-Smith (Allan Cuthbertson, every inch Lord Flashheart from Blackadder), hopes to get to the truth, but the man best qualified to provide answers (Captain Harry Lewis, played by Guy Rolfe) is being ignored, or even mocked. Meanwhile, the leader of the cult (George Pastell) knows that the British are creeping closer and closer to finding the truth.

Hampered by a stilted script from David Zelag Goodman and the lack of any real A-list stars, although Rolfe is good enough in the lead role and Pastell has plenty of screen presence, director Terence Fisher does his best to make something entertaining and interesting. What he ended up with, however, feels like the closest Hammer ever came to real exploitation fare. This is almost a mondo film in a number of ways, best illustrated by the scene in which we watch a mongoose and snake fighting one another (note: animal lovers may wish to turn away for that moment), and that's what actually keeps it watchable nowadays as a curio piece from the studio.

It just manages to qualify as an above average viewing experience, but I'd recommend it only to either Hammer completists or those who like their horror to have one foot dipped in any of the darker chapters in our world history.



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