Full Kolchak ep “Horror in the Heights”: reporter chases a rakshasa (Indian demon) in NYC. Where’s Durga Ma when you need her?
In 1974, NYC Jews wouldn’t go out for Indian food :D
Lakshmi Restaurant in a horror font
Beef curry = not a typical Indian place
Is this the Hindu swastika or the Riddler :D
The svastiks are hung like a Xtian horror chamber :D
Rakshasa hunter uses a crossbow
Demon hunter Van Hel-Singh played by Abraham Sofaer, Baghdadi Jew from India. Like in It Lives Inside, he mispronounces the monster, as ruk-SHAH-suh rather than RAHK-shus.
This demon takes the form of the beholder’s loved one, a creepy premise lifted from Maricha’s tale in the Ramayana:
When the dying Maricha was returning to his real form he cried out, "Oh Sita! Oh Lakshmana!", mimicking Rama's voice. Sita fell prey to the ruse and asked Lakshmana to go and search for Rama… Ravana appeared… and kidnapped Sita [Wikipedia]
Demon reveal! Guy in a wig, gorilla suit and claws topples over theatrically :D
I generally enjoyed the well-made It Lives Inside, but: You’re a teen out to see a movie during Halloween season. Do you want to see a rote horror flick with a slight cultural twist, or do you want a fresh auteur to really go ham on a novel premise?
It Lives Inside is Puritan in the American horror fashion (kid with doobie is a goner), but falls prey to the same thing it accuses its heroine of: pointlessly wanting to whitewash itself and fit into a samey genre.
To be clear, I’m not saying it should be more Indian—it’s already culturally reactionary, following that American horror trope. I’m saying importing more of the original folklore is one way the movie could be more novel in the US.
(Horror is Puritan because fear is conservative. If there’s a moment of joy at a party, all those kids are getting chomped. The lizard hind-brain speaks and it wants to be under a nice, safe rock.)
The pishach monster from Indian folklore manifests as a very American horror template, from the art style in a previous victim’s notebook to the creature design.
Of course, these monsters never make evolutionary sense as actual predators. Why is this invisible, over-powered flesh render quietly fasting for Karwa Chauth in some girl’s closet? They only make sense as anxieties monetized by jump scares.
The most universal monster anxieties are echoes of our prehistory past, when lions, bears and sabertooths actually did prey on humans. Before our Chinese cousins invented gunpowder, before we wiped out the California state beast.
To maximize ticket sales, it might make sense to reflect the anxieties of the American target audience. But why not ride on xenophobia in addition to fear of predation? Why not a wicked-looking golem from Indian folklore?
This flick’s concept of soul-eating and possession are Christian, not Hindu; the monster design is from the Spirit Halloween remainder bin, and it laughs like the Predator. The title track, “Teeth” by Mallrat, is sleek and Western. Only the faint outline of the folklore remains, nearly invisible like the monster itself.
It’s shabby treatment for a monster that’s a metaphor for Indianness. Samidha, facing a demon from the old country that can live inside its victims: “Everything I wanted outside of me is inside”
The movie should’ve gone harder on “the monster feasts on immigrant angst” since its PG-13 horror stuff is rote. So much stuff to unpack there.
Count Abdulla explored its brown × genre (horror-comedy) premise better. What Lives Inside is apparently artistic self-doubt.
In more detail
Conceptual problems aside, the movie was fun and slick, keeping in mind that I watch everything at 1.7× speed.
The monster discriminates, savaging others but only eating desis made tasty by our incredible food. Transmits itself between desi kids like a brown The Ring.
The real monster is Samidha after her high-school whitewashing, her words cut deeper than fangs.
Brown and black characters don’t die first 👍🏽
All the non-desi characters call the monster a “pishaash.” French-inflected mispronunciation undefeated.
Bengali director, Punjabi and Tamil leads: all flattened to generic N. Indian Hindu, mirroring the flattening of the monster lore to generic Christian American. But the deity is Durga, who’s more Bengali than U.P.—?
These horror-movie tropes depend on parents and kids not talking. Indian-Ams talk about the major stuff, big crises, and a desi kid wouldn’t run off after a demon alone.
Dad Vik Sahay’s Hindi is atrocious, not realistic.
Count Abdulla is very funny premise-pushing: what would it mean if a vampire were Pakistani from Hounslow?
First 3 eps jam-packed with clever jokes. Sags in middle, but way better than yet another arranged-marriage tale.
Adds to vampire lore by making them white-supremacist Bullingdon toffs none too pleased to have Hindu and Muslim additions to their immortal club.
Jokes about Priti Patel, deportation, white people with brown fever. Pale vampire face is a deportation shield. Funny gag: white guy in British Raj colonist costume and brown guy dressed as a vampire as cultural appropriation.
Passes up the chance to make a point about blood-sucking colonists, keeps it light.
The climax’ implications are quite odd re: lineage and inbreeding, but as Harrison Ford says, It‘s not that kind of show, kid :)
Starring Arian Nik as a Ranbir Kapoor-y chocoboy, Manpreet Bambra as heroine, Jamie Winstone as literal vamp, Nina Wadia as single mom catfished on SunnahSwipe :D
Sia Alipour 🇮🇷🇬🇧 is hilarious in the patented, Asim-Chaudhry mosque-rudeboy role. Great comedy chops for someone who seems to have started as a martial artist.