A trilogy of terrible tales, all relating to a mysterious Indian cult and the repercussions of their teachings upon our modern world. The sinister Taylor-Eriksson group may not have the greatest of cult name (no, they can’t top up your bloody phone!) but their Gods are just as scary as any Cthulu fanatics or Scientology fiends. Apart from maybe Tom Cruise, obviously.
The humble horror anthology gets some much deserved love with Tears of Kali, a German film with more extreme trappings than most portmanteau movies. If you thought that Three… Extremes was bad (I still haven’t gotten over Dumplings) well, wait until you see a naked woman cut off her own eyelids with a pair of scissors. A mission statement, (something along the lines of “Tales From the Darkside this is not!”) this happens less than ten minutes into the film. It’ll have you dreading each new segment of the film, like some sort of evil Chocolate Orange.
As with most horror anthologies, the stories themselves are a mixed bag. A mixed bag of horrible things, that is. In Shakti, we have a female investigator interviewing a young woman accused of murder. As she digs deeper into the mystery, she begins to uncover some very sinister, insidious ideas. The interviewee finally opens up – with terrible results. In the second tale (Devi), a young drug addict pays a visit to an unconventional, possibly psychopathic new therapist – with terrible results. Finally, in Kali, a faith healer helps free a woman from her personal demons (literal demons, in this case), but at great cost – and with, you guessed it, terrible results. Are you sensing a theme yet?
The big central cult being called The Taylor-Eriksson may not really do anyone justice (if anything, it makes them sound like people who might manufacture or sell mobile phones) but thankfully the film still manages to do a decent job of building intrigue and a sense of forboding. To be fair, after opening with a woman cutting her own damn eyelids off because of them, you could call your cult the Teletubbies and I’d be terrified. Please dear God, not the Tubby Custard!
Ahem. With a slower pace than most hardcore German splatter movies and a relatively low budget, Tears of Kali may divide audiences. It’s a well told series of stories, with fine acting and some great shocks and scares. It’s reminiscent of such movies as Necromentia (another low-budget – but excellent – series of stories) and the works of Clive Barker and H.P Lovecraft. While slow in parts, its twists and eventual scenes of violence are very much worth the wait. It’s very well directed too, has a great atmosphere and feels incredibly, genuinely scary at times. While the scissor scene is by far the nastiest in the whole film, each tale feels refreshingly bleak and terrifying. The great Fulci himself would be proud of one particular eyeball gouging scene (with this and the eyelid/scissor affair, Tears of Kali is not a great film for the more squeamish to watch) while the rest of the film keeps the level of gore at a consistently high level. Its nastiness may even fool you into thinking that you’re watching a film with a much higher budget. There is still, though, an undeniable air of straight-to-television about it, with the sense that it’s only the extreme violence which makes it stand out from the rest. Director Andreas Marschall handles his bag of tricks well though, and I would be very interested in seeing what he manages to produce in future.
Tears of Kali is a very interesting anthology film packed full of gruesome gore, several scary stories (with a compelling overarching theme) and above hall, a deeply disturbing sense of horror. Tears of Kali may not have anyone in actual tears, but that scissor/eyelid scene sure made my eyes water.
Tears of Kali (2004)