Stranglers of Bombay, The (1959)

Stranglers of Bombay, The (1959)

“Look, sir, this is India: there are cults and religions that stretch back to the beginning of recorded time.”

In 1830s India — as trade caravans mysteriously disappear and a high priest (George Pastell) leads his followers in deadly cultish rituals — a colonel (Guy Rolfe) for the British East India Company is disappointed to learn that his boss (Andrew Cruikshank) has appointed a family acquaintance (Allan Cuthbertson) rather than him to investigate the mystery. Will Captain Lewis (Rolfe) — with help from his supportive wife (Jan Holden) — be able to make any headway into solving the crimes?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cults
  • Historical Drama
  • Thieves and Criminals

Terence Fisher directed this historical adventure-horror film for Hammer Studios about the quest to capture a cult of Indian bandits known as Thugees, who terrorized travellers in the name of the goddess Kali. Unfortunately, lead actor Rolfe — probably best known by film lovers for co-starring opposite Robert Taylor in Ivanhoe (1952), and for starring as the title character in the non-GFTFF-listed Mr. Sardonicus by William Castle — isn’t all that charismatic:

Meanwhile, we loathe his priggish nemesis (Cuthbertson):

… and have mixed feelings about hissing at the bad guys given that they’re living under colonial subjugation.

The entire affair is exotic and atmospherically filmed, with several notoriously gruesome moments:

… but it will probably only be of interest to fans of this genre (or, of course, those wanting to see buxomy Marie Devereux as a cult follower who gets a kick out of seeing people tortured).

Check out DVD Savant’s review for Trailers From Hell for a much more in-depth analysis of this title, which was previously hard-to-find but is now available on DVD.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Arthur Grant’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though Hammer fans will likely want to check it out.


2 thoughts on “Stranglers of Bombay, The (1959)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Cracking, enjoyable Hammer adventure-horror is good fun but not significant in any way so not must see for FFs.

  2. First viewing. Not must-see, though, yes, Hammer fans will want to see it… as a different kind of Hammer film which still plays by the basic Hammer rules.

    I didn’t have a problem with Rolfe not being “charismatic”. I saw him as a man with a mission – and charisma didn’t really enter into it.

    For what it is, it’s a rather economic and effective flick; at 80 minutes, there are no lulls.

    Best bit: the mongoose vs. the snake.

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