The Merits of Sin: Hatyarin aka The Perilous Witch (1991) (India)

I’m not going to pretend to be shocked if you end up disliking the horror films from India. I get it. I really do. Triple digit run times, musical numbers, failed comedy and long stretches of tedium can take out even the strongest of constitutions. So, I understand but I also disagree. I think we’ve known each other long enough for you to have established what I’m into and no matter how many of these things I watch I just can’t help but grin. Indian horror is the best kind of culture shock. I’m always happy as hell when something just feels the right kind of wild. Insane by most standards and cheap as hell, India’s output just tickles my fancy.

Fancy tickler

Karma proves to be a right fatal bitch for three family men in this wildly entertaining early nineties monster flick. A lovely wedding night is spoiled when a dressed in white smokey eyed beauty makes her presence known before the couple can consummate the marriage. The husband has his throat torn out and the bride is hypnotized, trapped by a living tree and the woman in white proceeds to use a ceremonial blade to spill her blood into the mouth of the evil wizard buried at the tree’s base. With the virginal bride murdered, the cackling woman in white turns into a lumpy faced monster with ping pong eyes and fangs.

There’s the magic

The sins of the father (or fathers in this case) are going to carry a hefty price for a good amount of people by film’s end. A while ago three life long friends hired an evil wizard to use his black magic to convince a young couple to sign over their fortune. After getting their ill gotten gains they let the wizard murder said couple. The woman’s spirit returns and stabs the magic man but he places a curse on her before she dies. Now she is some weirdo zombie witch thing and she has to make blood sacrifices to the corpse of the dead wizard using the virginal members of the greedy trios family. Luckily for at least one young woman, she’s engaged to a dashing police inspector and he’s ready to fight.

No harm swarm

There’s abuse of stock footage lightning (something pretty damn common in Indian horror), fat sidekick comic relief (also pretty damn common), wonderful musical interludes (one sung by a recently roofied woman), a children’s toy competition that ends about as badly as any children’s toy competition could (in ridicule and death), and a final battle which involves weapon summoning, dismemberment and a giant projectile tongue.

Climaxing for the climax

Without subtitles it’s pretty hard to follow but luckily Tim Paxton’s publication Monster! filled in most of the details. Hatyarin is a magical time filled with cheapo monster goodness and the usual wild shenanigans one finds in this region’s horror cinema. A little more brutal (well as brutal as strict censorship and zero funding can be) than the majority of this time period’s output it just makes the film feel a bit more sleazy. You may not like it but I’ll sure as hell treasure it till the day I’m hung from the killing tree. 7/10


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