“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:
- 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
No, though Hammer fans will likely want to check it out.