Monday, February 18, 2013


DVD Sleeve art.
It's tough to be kind to a film when the director plays the same old game of hide and seek with the titular creature. But I have high hopes with AMBULI, a Tamil horror from from 2012. I mean, look at this DVD sleeve art. It's old school with a large clawed hand dripping blood. The film's poster makes the critter look kind of like the little brother of the alien from PREDATOR (1987) with its dredds and so forth.

We'll have to see. I'm 45 minutes into the film and the monster has yet to show itself. So far we get a blurred image as it dashes through a cornfield to snatch and eat a child. The story so far:

AMBULI 3D - film poster.
It seems that decades ago a woman gave birth to some monstrous baby. And the "Sir Wellington College of Arts and Science" has something to do with it.

As with Larry Cohen's IT'S ALIVE (1974) the creature can kill from the moment it's delivered into our world (as shown in some cartoony flashback; we see that the monster demolish a few folk and then escapes into the field). Apparently it has lived there for years, occasionally snacking on both people and animals. Two college kids stumble on the village's monstrous secret: after the child was born and it escaped into the field a wall was erected to encase the monster within the boundaries of the college and its estate. 

The witch from Louis KAALO (2011).
The film looks pretty good for what it is, and that says a lot since a similar monster flick like Louis Wilson's KAALO (from 2011) was such a major disappointment. At least AMBULI doesn't suffer from "I am a cool guy director who thinks he's Guy Ritchie" syndrome that plagued the look and pace of  KAALO. AMBULI on the other hand is a straight forward, rarely dull, monster tale straight out of the 1980s. There's a lot of talk, some musical numbers, and a monster. If you want to compare the two films further, KAALO and AMBULI are both folklore based horrors, albeit directors Hari Shankar and Hareesh Narayan do inject some elements of SF into the backstory of their film's creature. It is less a supernatural monster like the flying witch from Wilson's film, and more of something borrowed from H.G. Wells.

Turns out that the monster is a creation of the old head master of the college. In 1947 The English founder of the college, Sir Wellington, was a guy who liked to dabble in science. He gets his hands on some "neaderthal extract" (I think that's what was said in the film) and he then experiments with it on a local village woman who is having a difficult pregnacny.  On the night of the child's birth, which happens to be on date of a lunar eclipse, the super-human/neanderthal hybrid is affected by "lunar radiation" and our headmaster got hisself a monster. The unfortunate child is named Ambuli, which menas moon in Tamil. The film bogs down a bit towards the middle and we're treated to a few musical numbers that are less than thrilling. 

I'm twiddling my thumbs ... waiting for Ambuli, which is apparently the monster's name, to show.  90 minutes and I still haven't had a good glimpse of the thing. KAALO is starting to look better and better (at least  you got to se the monster fairly frequently, even though the horrible CG effects and arty cinematography made it cringeworthy). But I'm cheering for AMBULI.

Waiting for the pay off...


The three students and the caretaker of the field track the creature to the ruins of an old underground temple (shades of JAANI DUSHMAN!)  where it turns out that Ambuli is a gorilla like ape-man. AND I am very happy to reprot that he's also a good ol' fashion fur covered rubber monster! Thank god, I was afraid it would have been CG.

We see a lot of the monster when there's an extended battle between Ambuli and some of those meddling kids. Just before our monster is about to smackdown the humans, the army shows up with tranquilizer guns and captures it. You see, this super human creature is just what the army ordered for its new Super Soldier program. 

Oh yes, I'm expecting a sequel any day now.

One of the best features of the film?  During the end credits we get some behind the scenes make-up footage of the actor playing Ambuli.  Cool. 

2 hours 12 minutes

Colour supplement ad for the film. Luckily, AMBULI works well in 2D without any of those annoying "in yer face" scenes.

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