India, caravans of goods have been going missing on the roads between trading posts - Captain
Harry Lewis of the East India company is convinced that these
disappearances are related to the thousands of missing people across
India reported each year. Despite having heavily researched the
disappearances, the job of investigating them is given to the
upper-class and far out of his element Captain Connaught-Smith who is
completely ineffectual. When Lewis' native manservant is killed, with
his hand being sent back as a warning, he tries to warn the Company
about the risks this group of killers pose but they ignore him - in
indignation he resigns and sets out to track down these killers
First time screenwriter David Zelag Goodman handles the writing credits forthe
film but his work is a rather mixed bag at best. Inspired by the novel The Deceivers which was based on the true story of William Sleeman's battle with the Thugee in Colonial India, The Stranglers of Bombay
takes a largely fictional approach to the whole topic despite the
film's trailer heavily promoting it as a true story. The idea behind
the origins of the deadly scarves is the most clever creation, twisting
the legend of Kali's mythological battle with the demonic Raktabija.
a film in its own right characterisation is fair and the dialogue is
particularly impressive, unusually realistic
for the Hammer period films it helps to bring a good sense of
authenticity to the whole production. Unfortunately Goodman simply
doesn't handle the storyline aspects very well at all - generally slow
paced and largely dialogue based, the film takes a long time to get
started and never really builds up any adventure or tension elements -
a supposed highlight of the film, when Lewis is captured seems to be
over in a moment and he suddenly reappears back home - the climax in
particular is a very messy affair and is a real let down. The absence
of any romantic elements is a surprise, although
Terence Fisher was Hammer's top man at the end of the 1950s, with an
almost unbeaten run of sucesses. He brings his solid directoral style
to Strangers of Bombay
the film really benefits. Combined with the black and white
photography, Fisher's very straight-forward shooting style helps to
bring the film a documentary-style appearance in many scenes and it is
far more remniscent of their gritty war films than their colourful
gothic horrors. As usual Hammer's set work is superb (particularly on
the Kali statue and temple, but the exteriors look like nothing more
authentic than an old quarry (as indeed they were) and the film never
captures the large scale journeys that the characters must be making.
Fortunately James Bernard provides one of his best soundtracks,
really helping to make the film and underscore what little tension the
script can offer.
Guy Rolfe had just made an impressive showing in Hammer's brutal war story Yesterday's Enemy
(1959) but is still a rather unusual leading man - approaching 50 he
was much older than one might expect - but seems a strong fit for the
role and his performance throughout is exemplary. Andrew Cruickshank
and Allan Cuthbertson are effective as his colleagues, with Cuthbertson
making his upper-class officer a thoroughly unlikeable character. George Pastell makes a
very effective High Priest, although it is easy to confuse him with the
genuine Indian actor Marne Maitland who has another role. The Master Roger Delgado plays the assistant to the High Priest in an almost identical role to that he would play in the next year's Terror of the Tongs (1961).
Stranglers of Bombay
takes an interesting topic but the script doesn't do much with it and
the storyline is generally disappointing. Fortunately some solid
direction, a great soundtrack and impressive performances help to make
the film watchable and reasonably enjoyable. One for fans of the Hammer
adventure films but not a particularly recommended title.
scenes with blood and some gory effects (although quite hard to make out in the b&w print). A brief scene of real animal violence between a snake and a mongoose, shot in the wild not staged, nothing vivid.
Fans of the Hammer adventure films should enjoy this.
Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
The print looks stunning with well defined shades, superb detail and only very light grain.
language mono sound - sounds strong throughout.
French dub track.
commentary with the writer David Zelag Goodman.
An interesting solo track, but some silence and it might have been good
to have a moderator like on the other films in the boxset - lots of
interesting facts about the film documented elsewhere go unmentioned.
Original theatrical trailer.
Other extra features are also included in the boxset.