Now here's a bizarre but somewhat exciting prospect, what happens when you bring together Islamabad ice cream baron Omar Ali Khan and the UK's hottest indie DVD company Mondo Macabro? No not Mondo Milkshakes (now there's an idea) but more welcomingly Pakistan's first full on modern splatter movie 'Zibahkhana' (Hell's Ground).

Very much a B-movie tribute to some of the modern Western horror greats, 'Zibahkhana' has a core plot so simple you can leave your brain at home (which in itself is not a bad thing) as we follow a group of hip young Islamabad teens as they skip school to head off in a rented van (which looks very much like a hot Lollyhorror version of the Mystery Machine) to go catch a rock concert. Of course, in true B-move horror style they decide to 'take a short cut' that inevitably will only lead them to the aptly titled Hell's Ground.

If I'm to be brutally honest 'Zibahkhana' is pretty much a wholesale (ahem) 'tribute' to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (with amusingly a sprinkling of Zombie Flesh Eaters thrown in for good measure) by way of Scooby Doo (albeit with a good amount of gore thrown in) but I'd hazard a guess that this was the intention of the producers from inception anyway, as has long been evident in the Lolly/Bolly movie scene with their own take of hit Western movies, so why not revisit the splatter classics in that vein?

But does it work? Most definitely! If this was one of director/co-writer Omar Ali Khan's ice creams then I'd expect this would be a Neapolitan with stacks of raspberry sauce! A fun hodge podge of several genre flavours soaked in blood red grue! The teen leads are middling to good with Rooshanie Ejaz standing out as troubled upper caste Ayesha alongside the usual mix of stoner horror fan, spoilt rich girl, poor boy etc in a pleasant plot addition utilising social class commentary in a B-movie way.

There is what looks to be an attempt at some additional political commentary regarding pollution that will have many scratching their heads until it is made apparent that it's in fact simply a vehicle to deliver a great Pakistani rip on the classic Zombie Flesh Eaters chow-down action (which is never a bad thing!) The rest of the horror fun though is happily lifted wholesale from Hooper's original seminal Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie with everything from the crazy hitcher (here being thrown out the van for gleefully brandishing a decapitated head) to their very own Leatherface, here portrayed in massively effective but simple style by a character called Baby who even though looks like a bloke covered in a white sheet waving a massive spiked mace around is one of the most exciting horror baddies to hit the screen in some time (and very much can proudly lay claim to being Pakistan's very own movie monster ala Freddy, Jason and the aforementioned Leatherface). How long till we see an action figure eh?

Whilst the splatter effects are very much low budget they're confidently handled by Nawab Sagar and the blood and gore flows well once proceedings get going. Long running Mondo Macabro fans will get a kick (as I did) from the hilarious cameo by Rehan who played Dracula in the vintage classic Zinda Laash (Living Corpse) who has fun with his previous horror role. Omar Ali Khan's passion for the horror movie scene is very much apparent throughout and he's obviously been paying attention as some of the highly stylised comic book shots are very competently handled. Wrapping the movie fun up as a whole though is a fantastic soundtrack which contains a foot tapping mix of excellent Pakistan pop gems and some atmospheric incidental music by Nightmare USA scribe Stephen Thrower (that guy really does get around eh!)

Praise should also be given to Pete (Tombs) and Andy (Starke) at Mondo Macabro though as producers/co-scribes/editors they have at last taken that scary leap into full on film production and with 'Zibahkhana' have delivered a debut that is 100% fun very much in the vein of what we have come to expect from the brand that is Mondo Macabro. Sure there's no escaping the Scooby Doo meets Texas Chainsaw (with a hint of Zombie Flesh Eaters for good measure) but it also goes without saying that this is a lot more fun than any of the Hollywood remakes we've had thrust upon us of late. I'm already hoping for a sequel… 'Zibahkhana 2: The Baby's Back' anyone?

Review by Alan Simpson

For more details on 'Zibahkhana' check out the official site here

For full details on all Mondo Macabro's DVD schedule click here

To visit Omar Ali Khan's ice cream/movie review website 'Hot Spot Online' click here

Released by Mondo Macabro
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review