Veerana (1988): Yes, it is a Ramsay movie. Don’t gasp for air! Before the horror wizards made a mockery of the genre, they did manage a cult in Veerana.
You've seen their movies. Veerana, Purana Mandir, Bandh Darwaza - all of them make you want to curl up in bed and hug your pillow (with laughter).
The Eighties was the Ramsay decade. Their films were replete with tacky sets and special effects.
Disfigured ghosts and spirits, girls in tiny clothes being attacked by evil aatmas, all this was staple fare. But none of it really explained why Ramsay films became cult favourites.
Now, they're back with a new release, Neighbours: They Are Vampires (in vintage Ramsay style). It's a good time to look back at the curious charms of a Ramsay horror film.
A mansion: Most films revolved around a mansion and the secrets of the wealthy family living there. You didn't have to be a resident, you could've just moved in, as was the case in Purani Haveli, in which a rich family buys a mansion, only to discover the horrors behind the closed doors.
Hackneyed dialogues: Often there was a Main-Samay-Hoon-esque voice-over.
In Veerana, it went something like this: "Aur ye hain shaitan ke pujari, jo apni kaali shakti ke zor se masoom zindagiyon ko barbaad karke bana dete hain, Veerana!"
Sadly, they've now moved to Hinglish. The voiceover for Neighbours... goes: "Kisne dekha? Sanam ne dekha. Neighbours... they are vampiresss!"
The sleaze factor: You can't have a Ramsay movie and not have sleaze. The women were usually scantily clad and wouldn't be caught dead in anything but their most revealing negligees.
Thunder, lightning, music: The name of the movie was usually introduced with thunder and lightning in the background. No thunder-lightning, no Ramsay movie. Also, the background score and special effects were always the same - screeching owls, flapping wings, creaking doors, etc.
Low production values: The set design, costumes, make-up - everything in a Ramsay movie spoke volumes about the imagination behind it. Taxidermy animals mounted on walls, armour in bedrooms, vampires with eyes that changed colour, et al. There had to be a dungeon where nefarious activities took place. Always!
How do you voodoo? That was another Ramsay favourite. For instance, in Veerana, a naked man was tied up and told that a chudail would satiate her thirst by drinking his garam khoon.
What's in a name? A Ramsay movie would not be as entertaining if it weren't for its name. Andhera, Aur Kaun, Mahakaal, and many more. Neighbours: They are Vampires is the first English title of a Ramsay film.
From HT Brunch, February 2
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