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|Index||19 reviews in total|
I saw this movie on the BIFFF Festival in Brussel, spring 2004. What a surprise! This German production, a stylish and imaginative shocker, is one of the scariest flic i have seen. Be warned: this is not a joke! This terrorizer has a big cast of good actors (as an example:Peter Martell as a European guru has a strong presence), excellent direction, nice production design, a very good soundtrack and a lot of heavy gore sfx like Italian horror movies in the eighties. Flesh ripped clean to the bone...and the blood runs red ...this savage Heart Stopper will grip you...and give you some dark dreams ... A must-see!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had initially heard of TEARS OF KALI a while back and it sounded like
something I'd be into, but with all the films I have coming in on a
regular basis, it kinda fell off my radar. While roaming around the
local WonderBook...I spotted the box for this one and grabbed it up. I
have to say I'm pretty glad I did. TEARS OF KALI is a strange, gory,
sometimes downright creepy film which is somewhat constrained by it's
obviously low budget - but is still an entertaining and worthwhile
TEARS OF KALI centers around the fictional India-based Taylor-Erikkson cult group, that practices meditation and other rituals in the pursuit of facing and banishing the individual's "inner demons" - but apparently these techniques work either all too well or not well enough (depending on your viewpoint...) as dark forces are not only exorcised, but also unleashed upon hapless victims.
The film is told "anthology-style", with a short but memorable and "eye-opening" intro sequence, and then proceeding into the three stories that make up the bulk of the film.
The first (SHAKTI) is about a journalist who visits one of the cult-members who is being held at a mental hospital. The journalist goes in under cover of wanting to research the Taylor-Erikkson cult, but we find that her true motives may hit a little closer to home. When the interview takes a violent turn, the journalist finds that she may have gotten in over her head...
The second part (Devi) concerns a violent young man who is sentenced to psychological rehab in lieu of a prison sentence for beating a young man into a coma. We find that the treating doctor in question is actually a Taylor-Erikkson "alumni", and his rehabilitation methods are far from the norm...
The closing story (KALI) revolves around a quack "faith-healer" and his assistant who perform "miracles" for a fee. When the healer unwittingly helps one of his clients and actually expels a force which had been possessing her, the demon is now free to roam and looking for a new host...
I gotta say I really enjoyed TEARS OF KALI. There are some faults with the film that keep it from being truly excellent - but it is an original and ambitious film for what it is. My biggest gripe with the production is the poor and uninspired over-dubbed dialogue. The dubbing is sub-par and I would have much preferred to have a subtitled option with the original language track. Some reviewers have said the acting is poor, which I don't necessarily agree with. I think that the dubbing is so lack-luster that it makes the performances seem stunted, which isn't really the case. In fact, a few of the performances are pretty damn chilling (the "doctor" in the second segment, and the "client" in the third readily come to mind...) and notable. The gore FX are very well done for a low-budget film, with some graphic scenes of eyelid-removal-via-cuticle-scissors, a pencil-in-the-throat-suicide, some decent (but irritatingly "shaky") self-flaying, and a few other goodies thrown in for good measure. Not as rough as some of the more "extreme" gore films out there, but definitely stronger than your average horror fare. I also found the story concerning the cult-group to be intriguing and a welcome change to the typical horror-story nonsense. There are plenty of scenes of genuine atmosphere and tension, the likes of which I haven't come across in a while. Although flawed in some fundamental ways, I still think TEARS OF KALI will appeal to most "underground" horror viewers - some scenes may prove too much for the more mainstream viewer. Definitely Recommended - 8.5/10
Three macabre and bloody tales are loosely connected by a mysterious
cult which practices bizarre rituals.
The first story tells of a woman named Shakti, an ex-member of the Taylor-Erikkson cult who is now an inmate at a mental hospital. A journalist (supposedly investigating the cult) interviews Shakti, but it transpires that she has other reasons for wanting to talk to the woman...
The next story follows a violent young drug abuser who is sentenced to rehab. His doctor turns out to be a follower of Taylor-Erikkson and his methods of treatment are far from orthodox.
The final tale deals with a faith-healer who unwittingly releases an evil force from one of his group (who is terminally ill). The malign monster is seeking a new healthy host, and has got its evil eye on the healer.
The movie is obviously low budget, and the dubbing on the version I saw is pretty lousy, but Tears of Kali is original enough and has plenty of nastiness and gore to make this movie worth a viewing. It takes a while to get going, but those willing to make the effort will be rewarded by some nice death scenes which don't skimp on the red stuff.
The second story is my favourite as it manages to be quite creepy and genuinely disturbing (and it also features a scene in which which a guy has to peel off his skin!).
It may not be a wholly successful venture, but the makers of this film certainly have to be praised for trying something a bit different.
one of the best low budget movies from Germany! is this is the dark side of new age? if you believe in esoteric, please don't watch this movie! it blows all your positive fantasies away. this movie shows that beyond the peaceful façade of spiritual soul searching lies a world of extreme transgressions and terror. i hope there will be a 35 mm copy soon! Andreas Marschall's first film is just the beginning of a new area, making movies with a few euros! i'm waiting for the second hit!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tears of Kali is an original yet flawed horror film that delves into
the doings of a cult group in India comprised of German psychologists
who have learned how to control their wills and their bodies to the
point that they can cause others to be "healed" through radical
techniques (that can trigger nightmarish hallucinations and physical
pain and torture) to release the pent-up demons inside them.
The film is shown as a series of vignettes about the Taylor-Eriksson group--the above-mentioned cult group. The first segment is somewhat slower than the rest but serves fine to set up the premise for the rest of the film. The rest of it plays out like a mindf@ck film with some of the key staples thrown in the mix (full-frontal nudity, some gore) to keep you happy.
I say check this out. May not be spectacular, but it's concept is pretty neato and it delivers in the right spots. 8/10.
This episode movie uses demons, meditation and a strange sect as its vehicle for the ultimate traumatic horror movie: the whole atmosphere of this film is extremely frightening though you never believe the esoteric background that is supposed to be there! The people doing the movie obviously never had real contact to the Baghwan ideology. But who cares? I don't think John Wayne ever was a professional cowboy nor was Louis De Funes a french Policeman. Anyway, there are some professional actors in this flick doing their best, some horror movie buffs just playing actors. Good old German Matthieu Carriere plays a spiritual healer in the last episode. Attention: The special effects are not for those with weak stomachs: eyelids are cut off, a guy skins himself alive and there goes your breakfast! If you are into splatter and gore but to old to take Fulci seriously give these young film makers a try.
Three horror stories based on members of a transgressive Hindu cult
that return home but changed in some way. In the first story our former
cult member is now in an insane asylum and is visited by a reported who
wants to find out about what went on at the cult. Somewhat slow going
as story is told in flashbacks while the two sit on chairs and face
each other. Reporter is particularly interested in what lead to the
death of the participants. What seemed rather boring suddenly turns
very exciting with a surprising twist in the story. Things get quite
Second story has a violent young criminal visiting a psychiatrist for mandatory therapy. The patient seems to have some type of agenda but the psychiatrist is up to the task. Again, things slow down a bit and get weird. Then there's a strange twist in the story that is very well written and surprising.
Final story deals with spiritual healer who claims to be able to remove the persons illness from them with his hands. One of the patients is a former cult member, so the successful healing gets more complicated. Again, we are surprised by a twist. Has a pretty gory scene in there.
There some nice female full frontal nudity as well as male full frontal nudity for some reason. I found the stories to be very well written and the director succeeds entirely in setting up each story with its surprising twist and the gory aftermath.
Note: review of the German DVD.
The main drawback with 'Tears of Kali' is its obviously low budget. Despite its best efforts, the film occasionally ends up just looking cheap and comical. Having said that, however, the blood and gore FX are done *exceptionally* well. And, in the end, the cheap 'home video' feel of the film doesn't matter because it works well on other levels. A series of interconnected story lines is used very effectively to build up an intriguingly incomplete picture of the origins and activities of the occult group at the centre of the movie. The idea of this group, and the stories, rumours, and legends that surround them, is what really appealed to me about the film. It's an idea which struck me as similar to Clive Barker's 'Hellraiser' concept, insofar as the mythology surrounding it is powerful enough to be extended in any of a number of ways, possibly across different media (films, comics, novels, etc). Not that I'm advocating the production of 'Tears of Kali' sequels, accompanying graphic novels, and tie-in action figures! Let's face it, most of the Hellraiser sequels are worthless (unless viewed solely for cheese-value). Just because an idea has the scope and potency to be extended doesn't mean it should be extended (except in the viewer's imagination). The only point I want to make is that the central concept of 'Tears of Kali' lends the movie an extremely powerful edge, and this overcomes the otherwise cheap 'home video' atmosphere.
I don't quite get the hyperbole of some of the reviews of this film on
either end. Tears of Kali is not at all a slightly flawed masterpiece,
but it doesn't completely suck, either.
On the low budget and cheesy end, aspects of the film play like a stereotypical Uwe Boll flick; it's difficult to not cynically think of this as another German tax shelter film. Stylistically and atmospherically, Tears of Kali occupies a weird middle ground between recent microbudget schlock like Insaniac (2002), The Crucifier (2005) and The Bonesetter (2003), and a major studio, high-budget horror film. If you watch it expecting microbudget schlock, as I did after seeing the DVD title screen sequence (like most films, I purposefully avoided knowing much about the film before I popped it into my DVD player), you'll be impressed with the level of professionalism exhibited. But if you've only watched major studio, high-budget horror, it's entirely understandable that you'd come to the conclusion that this is one of the worst films ever. The bottom line, then, is that you should probably only watch Tears of Kali after you've watched at least a dozen or so microbudget films. That way the technical clunkiness, the relative incoherence of much of the story, and the numerous other problems with the script, performances, direction, editing and so on won't be such culture shock, and you'll be able to better appreciate what Tears of Kali does get right.
The premise of the film and even many ways in which the story is developed are impressive. There are a lot of good ideas here, both plotwise and structurally. I'm a fan of "anthology" films as well as television shows like The Twilight Zone, The Hitchhiker and Tales from the Crypt, so the fact that the script is broken up into three separate but related stories along with bookended segments worked well for me. Writer/director Andreas Marschall even weaves in a fair amount of sophisticated, nuanced threads, thematically and more literally, allowing viewers to interlock the stories more with the bookended segments in their heads as they watch.
However, Marschall errs on one serious front--the "show, don't tell" rule. Far too much of the film consists of people talking about interesting events that we do not get to see. The first story after the opening bookend is especially guilty of this, and it doesn't help that the story being told is fairly complex and kinda gobbledy-gooky (it hinges, as does the whole film, on a maybe ridiculous but fun mixture of mystic, new-agey psychology, cults and a couple ideas from Indian religions), and it doesn't help that the story being told has lots of characters, most of whom have odd names (and the film doesn't have the greatest English dubbing job, and the DVD has no subtitles).
Surely the show-don't-tell violation was chosen to keep the budget down. Even with the bookends, Marschall only needed four settings, most limited to just a couple rooms, and he avoided having to hire lots of extras, having to work his way through complicated logistical issues of location shooting and so on. While that's a good excuse for limiting the film, it's not a good enough excuse to violate the "show don't tell" rule in the way that it's violated here, because it seriously hurts the film.
Horror fans who enjoy gore and special effects will also find enough to like here, as long as they're not the kind of gorehound who gets wrapped up in arguments about what film is the goriest. Quite a few scenes are a bit brutal and difficult to watch, and especially compared to most microbudget films, the effects and make-up are extremely impressive. Each story hinges on some twist of character or another that results in a good, suspenseful and visceral extended sequence. Marschall has his mechanics down well for those kinds of scenes, with the exception that occasionally "battle" scenes are a bit too choppy and blurry. In terms of visceralness, the bookended sequences reminded me a bit of the Nix-cult scenes in Lord of Illusions (1995), but unfortunately they're not shot, acted or constructed quite as well.
In any event, if you're a horror fanatic to the extent that you're a completist--that is, you try to see every horror film ever made--there's plenty to enjoy in Tears of Kali as long as you're generously forgiving. By definition, though, you must be generously forgiving of horror in general to be that kind of fan (otherwise you wouldn't subject yourself to all of those schlocky films, and that's pretty undeniably a large number of films). If you can the positives to fare like The Christmas Season Massacre (2001) or Silo Killer (2002), then you'll find plenty of positives in Tears of Kali, too. Just don't expect anything close to a masterpiece.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I started watching, I thought it would be a complete waste of
time. But to my surprise, it turned out to be much better than the
other mass marketed stuff out there. I have to stress - this movie is
NOT for everyone. This will not satisfy visual or audio connoisseurs.
This *might* satisfy those that enjoy slasher gore; but it is not
mindless and the psychological aspects won't be appreciated. This is
not a movie that is meant to passively entertain you. If you disengage
your brain while watching a movie, then you should probably skip this
With that said:
The movie is an anthology of three stories based on the after-effects of a form of experimental group "therapy" done in the 80s based on the archetypes of the Hindu religion. I have read a review complaining about the appropriation of eastern religious ideas by westerners. I agree that's a legitimate concern, but isn't that the entire point of the movie in the first place? It's about the consequences of dabbling in forces (psychological or otherwise) that one does not understand; and that these consequences reach into the future and effect the lives of others.
I went into this movie with the opinion that you have to be born into that culture to really understand it's religion; and I left the movie the same way. This movie is an example of how good storytelling and well written characters are far more important than flashy FX or style. A unique movie, chock full of substance, is a "must see" for those who enjoy being actively engaged in psychological thrillers.
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