Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shaitani Dracula: the worst movie ever made?


This is Dracula. I think he's channeling General Custer.
My original plan for the morning was an international watch-along of Ram Balram. But when House in Rlyeh's DVD would not offer up its promised subtitles, we had to come up with something else. That something else was Shaitani Dracula, which I went along with because apparently I am a total sucker for European accents even when they're typed. I had never heard of this film or its director/writer/producer/star Harinam Singh until last winter, when Keith over at Teleport City wrote it up in one of the finest pieces of cinema-related blogging I've ever read. As soon as you're done looking at the pictures here, hie thee immediately to Teleport City and laugh until you cry (which is what happened to me). And then hie to Die Danger Die Die Kill! to read another like-minded and like-styled report.

As someone who likes to know what's going on and why, Shaitani Dracula actually is a nightmare. To avoid repeating Keith word for word, I'll just say that you could watch this movie's scenes in any order you wanted and it wouldn't really matter. (It wasn't subtitled, but I don't think knowing all the dialogues would help much.)


Otherwise, not so scary.
Worse than its lack of clear plot, competent acting, and all those pesky elements most people like in their movies, it committed the cardinal sin of Hindi cinema: it's boring. IT'S SO BORING. House claims it held bizarre glee for him, and there's no use arguing over taste. I hope he'll explain why and how in a post sometime soon. Save for a few particular moments, I would rather have been watching anything else.

moment 1:

This is one of Dracula's handmaidens. She's obviously balancing on a wagon or some other rolling thing with a relatively small surface area, because they never show below her knees and her menacing arm gestures usually slip into "Whoa! I almost fell off!" Also, her wings are made from foam core roughly cut with a table knife, and sometimes she loses them with no explanation.

moment 2:
There's a goose. Nobody says anything about it, and nothing happens to it (thankfully).

Yet nobody cared to re-shoot the 30 seconds it spends in the foreground.

moment 3:

This is stock stage direction #1. I lost track of how many times the group reassembles into this rough formation. It's the only linear thing about the movie - good for ensuring maximum screen time to all these poor hacks, but bad for actual effective group communication.

moment 4:
The incidents of monster/human sexualized violence

This is the opening shot. Why, hello to you, cleavage-y rape!
are somewhat made up for by the scantily-clad women doing the critical information-gathering and monster-killing.

I realize the Buffy-like slaying might just be an excuse to set up shots like this, but I'll take what I can get. The men in this movie are completely useless, and the women end up doing fine on their own. Um...yay?

I wouldn't ordinarily encourage watching whole movies on youtube. It tends to hurt the eyes, and generally I feel it's important to compensate filmmakers for their work. However, in this case, Shaitani Dracula might have been made with the spare change found between the sofa cushions and its costs can be recouped by the same technique. More importantly, Shaitani Dracula is an affront to humankind. I'm genuinely shocked that someone could be so incompetent and so full of his own deranged vision that he'd have the gall to ask other people to be involved with his madness (it's one thing to be out of your mind; it's another to drag other people into it) and then release the thing into the universe. Someone should ask him what in Helen's name he thinks he was doing, but I don't actually want to know. Go. Watch. Be amazed. I'm feeling like a bit of a failure for disliking it so much - I fancy myself easily amused and I'd love to be able to roll with the D-movie boyz - so if you get some fun out of it, more power to you. And tell me of your findings. No-logic masala, atrocious item numbers, 80s fashion disasters, regressive social norms - all of these I can handle if other elements surrounding them are intriguing or delightful or even just comically bad. But this held nothing. It's stunning that someone made it, and it's maybe even more stunning that such entertaining and well thought-out, creative writing has resulted from it. The mind, it boggles.

For discussion: I'd like to inflict on House something that is the opposite of this movie. Help me think of something. It needs to be well-lit, full of original music, dancing, mountains of glitter, male skin, fashionable, tasteful costumes, and heartfelt moral lessons. Suggestions? HAHK, maybe?

19 comments:

Kat said...

Er ... as a relative newcomer to Bollywood movies, I can thankfully say this is not on my introduction list.

However I can offer "Sultanat," a dreadfully dull and overdone epic that featured the only blonde Bollywood male actor I've ever seen, Karan Kapoor, who seems to have wisely chosen another career path.

Beth said...

Hi Kat! I saw your comment on the other post and am so glad you're reading and commenting!

As for Sultanat, that does sound bad, though I think I'd watch almost anything for Karan "son of house favorite SHASHI" Kapoor in it. I've heard he's pretty wooden, but I find him yummy - at least he is in photos and the one song I've watched him in. He looked very out of place - sort of stereotypically California lifeguard/cowboy-like. But if people can sit through John Abraham and Arjun Rampal for yummy, then I could do it for Karan, I'm sure :)

Memsaab said...

I actually own this but whenever I think I'm about ready to give it a try some other dreadful film comes along and pushes it aside. Then I need lots of goodness before I can think of watching it again.

I think Keith's (and Todd's) reviews are probably way more fun to read than this is to watch.

Beth said...

It's really short, if that inspires you any. I know Kieth and Todd and Denis are taking the line that it's so shockingly bizarre and unlike any other film they've seen that they get some sort of joy out of that, or are at least impressed. Maybe I'm too ignorant of other bad horror films, or other kinds of very low-grade cinema from various parts of the world, to appreciate it on that front. I feel a little bit like the high school square in an After School Special who refused to do pot in the parking lot even though the cool artsy theatery kids were doing it and thus missing out on an experience they claim is some sort of pleasure on another plane (yes, I am conflating After School Specials with my actual life).

There's crap out there that I like, and I don't mean to sound like a snob about this movie. But it goes well beyond any level of crap I've ever experienced (and not just in Hindi cinema, either). I'll be very interested to hear your take on it. I think you should plan to just watch it - just buckle down and do it - but have something guaranteed wonderful to put in or go to right after. Your favorite Shammi, a series of Helen clips, three open bottles of wine, whatever.

Anarchivist said...

The development of bad movie taste is something I definitely think a lot about, and hope to articulate some thoughts on one of these days.

But in the meantime, I am so happy you did a screenshot of the goose! Hilarious! I like to think it was a misguided attempt at an artistic effect. :)

(And okay, seriously, you have the most freakily apt word verifications ever. Mine says "noohh," which is probably a non-warped person's reaction to this movie. Noooohhh!)

indiequill said...

Hee hee hee! Between this and Wardaat...

May I suggest Mujhse Dosti Karoge? There's also Hum Saath Saath Hain but that would mean punishing yourself as well. Or! There's a Rajesh Khanna movie about the importance of eco conservation or something called Haathi Mere Saathi (Elephant, My Companion). You get Tanuja in it too.

Oh, and nothing John Abraham has ever done dooms him to be compared to Karan kapoor. I mean, the man is sheer perfection in still images but you have to see him in "action" to believe it. In fact, go ahead and get Sultanat - because no amount of description can ever do his "performance" any justice.

Todd said...

Wait, why are we inflicting something on House? Shouldn't you instead be plotting revenge against Harinam Singh?

ajnabi said...

Why? Why is there a question mark at the end of this post's title? ;-)

Kat said...

Maybe because somewhere out there, there is a film that is even more horrible? Always keep your options open. ;)

Shalini Razdan said...

Oh, WOW! The things we watch for... er, exactly why did you watch this one, Beth?:-)

As for the Worst Movie ever, a Hindi movie/music Google group that I belong to has been discussing "Gunda", a 1998 film starring Mithun Chakraboty. I've seen it myself, but it comes highly recommended and even has a blog devoted to it.:-D

http://greatbong.net/2007/06/20/gunda-the-legend/

The Jamisonian said...

Unfortch, this is not on Netflix. I'm seriously considering Ebaying this... but it we are in a recession... I'm so torn!

Beth said...

Anarchivist - I think you should articulate those thoughts. I'm keen to read them!

The goose is just really incomparably hilarious. I have no idea what it's doing there. Maybe a very profound artistic statement. Maybe inertia. Who knows!

indiequill - What's Wardaat and do I need to see it?

I LOOOOOVE MDK - it was my first Bollywodo movie. I think HSSH is along the lines of what I'm thinking. Believe it or not, I own Haathi Mere Saathi because I love elephants, but I've had it for over a year and not watched it yet. I think Carla and I are supposed to watch it together.

Are you SERIOUS about Karan? He's that bad? Oof.

Todd - Because it's House's fault that I watched this. It's also a lot easier for me to get to him than to Harinam Singh, and vengeance must be had.

ajnabi and Kat - Thee open mind is very important. One never knows what one might find...though whether there's a worse movie than this that was actually finished and released into the public sphere, I remain doubtful.

Shalini - That's a very fine question. To modulate one of my favorite Hindi film lines, which I do not know from source but Babasko has repeated to me, "I sacrificed my taste on the altar of friendship." (The original line is about love, of course, and she reminds me repeatedly that she sacrificed her love of Akshaye Khanna for me :) )

I've heard a lot about Gunda but never dared see it. Will investigate.

Jamisonian - it's all right there on youtube should you be so inclined. Recession-proof!

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indiequill said...

I have hit upon the perfect movie to torture Keith - Vivaah.

You're welcome.

memsaabstory said...

So I did watch this, Beth (I'm in some sort of masochistic hell these days) and I concur: it's boring. I think it probably helps if you are a man who can enjoy the girls in their tiny little outfits, but all we get is Harinam Singh himself, who is laughable at first but gets old quickly (especially since he's doomed to repeat the same three or four lines over and over again: aao, rani, aao...tum khoobsurat ho...aao, I will make you my biwi, aao.." and on and on). It's totally a man flick.

viagra online said...

what the f... is that shi..., men I never seen something so bad like this, definitely you're right dude, without a doubt this movie is not maybe, is the worst Dracula movies has ever be made.

Bibek said...

Guys, you should not watch this type of movies..these are actually soft core porn in India..The cheap theater owner edit the film and put some porn scenes and show that in movie theater...These are F grades anyway.
Try to watch 'Dhobi Ghat' and make a review...I heard that one is nice...

Beth said...

Bibek - I would absolutely agree that this is an F grade film at best, and I don't plan to watch many more like it simply because they are not to my taste. But I do think remembering that they exist is important because they're part of cinema culture and history too. But I'll leave studying them to stronger souls than I :)

Optimus said...

This movie is Epic
More Epic than Gunda!
How could you not louuuve it?