Lady Killer (1995)

Humans are the worst organisms on the planet. We hate, pollute, and don’t know how to share. That’s why we knock down trees for no good reason. But sooner or later, it will catch up with us. Sooner or later, trees will develop into sentient beings and pay us back for decades of abuse by ripping off our legs.

If you don’t believe me, believe Lady Killer.

Bobby and her husband are living an idyllic life, filled with candlelit dinners, strolls on the beach, and heavy petting. But it all comes crashing down when Bobby is possessed by a devil tree. The tree sends Bobby into the world with one purpose: find newborn babies for the tree to eat. And so, Bobby embarks on a new adventure as a professional nanny with an ulterior motive. Meanwhile, a guy gets run over by a car, the tree’s evil spirit forces a bicyclist to fall off a cliff, and three would-be rapists are literally torn apart by tree branches. After sacrificing one baby to the tree, Bobby finds another family with a newborn kid. But she doesn’t know that they own a chainsaw. And they know how to use it.

Watching a horror movie from India is an invitation to step through a transdimensional portal, one that’s usually reserved for Dr. Strange comics and Joe Meek LPs. But that was rarely intentional. Indian filmmakers were concerned with making money and providing a psychological escape for audiences — they were almost never hung up on artistic expression. But whether it’s Veerana (a slick sensory overload from the legendary Ramsay family) or Son of Dracula (a no-budget, acid-tinged brainquake), the wild pageantry of these movies makes them feel like secret visions projected into our brains from undiscovered galaxies. Horror movies from India are unlike anything else. Each one fills me with joy, and reminds me why it’s important to have faith in humanity. Lady Killer is no different.

Clocking in at 76 minutes, Lady Killer is the most economical Indian horror movie that I’ve ever seen. The plot isn’t complicated. There isn’t much comic relief. And no one sings pop songs about making out under sprinklers or eating pudding. Instead, the movie jumps into warpspeed while focusing on what counts: Argento-esque neon, hyperactive editing, blasted-out beats from a broken down Roland TR-808, and geysers of bloodshed. There are no English subtitles, but there is plenty of random English (“This is very heavy!”; “Oh shit!”). The filmmakers understood that when people sit down to watch a movie about a violent demon-tree that siphons the souls of babies, that’s exactly what we want to see. And they delivered. Although Lady Killer slows down with some domestic drama, it gets bonus points for the psychedelic dream sequences and goon-beheading.

I purchased this DVD direct from India. It also includes Kaala Mandir, Tower House, and a Captain DVD watermark that never goes away. What I’m saying is that this is easily the best $1.50 USD that I’ve ever spent.

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