All right my little gore whores – you like ‘em bloody and disgusting, well I’ve got a nasty little German import that’s really gonna get your new years red running. Tears of Kali takes three distinct looks at the survivors of an Eastern Indian sect, the infamous Taylor-Eriksson group and it’s members, dedicated themselves to the pursuit of extreme self-discovery experimentation. The aftermath of the process would forever unhinge the mental and physical boundaries of the few who returned from the nightmare of the cult’s possession.
Each of the tales derives its title from the name of a specific Hindu Goddess. The first tale of Shaki is so named for the Hindu representation of the power of God. In this tale we come to meet a young woman who has repressed all memory of the terrors of the cult’s power. A journalist, who is compiling information on the girl for inclusion in a first hand account of the Taylor-Eriksson tragedy, will find a hidden terror waiting to be unleashed.
Shaki, lets you know from the get go that this is not going to be your run of the mill low budget horror film. The dialogue, while often flat, is dense and at times a tad esoteric, but the visceral nature of the episode is unrelenting and the climatic bloodbath is almost painful to behold. I was keen to get on the next round after the finale of Shaki left me nearly cringing at my television set.
Devi is the Divine Mother and amongst other things, the Goddess of death. In this episode, we meet a troubled young man and enter his quest to repress the anger that explodes from inside him. With the help of a psychologist, he will learn that internal rage is a universal connection. The blood-soaked conclusion of Devi holds rank with the original Hellraiser and Nightbreed as one of the most intense scenes of self-mutilation I can recall. All but the most jaded of viewers can be expected to exorcise some form of nervous energy as the ghastly denouement unfolds.
The final episode lends its name to the film’s title, appropriating the designation of Kali. Kali, the subject of rigorous debate, is often seen as the goddess of darkness, violence and wrath. This segment delves further into the backstory of the cult through its introduction of Mira (Cora Chilcott), one of the last surviving members of the Taylor-Eriksson group. Mira’s tale will reveal the depths to which the cult probed and the blackness and evil that their experiments awoke. It is Mira who brings forth the physical manifestation of the spirits unearthed through the Kali process.
What should have been the most interesting segment is a wholly unsatisfying entry following the graphic intensity of the first two tales. I anticipated that this analysis of the Taylor- Eriksson mystery would put the first two segments into perspective and the tension of this final film would be increased. What was revealed only illustrates that the first two segments require no justification and indeed, only prove to be that much better when the disappointment of the ending had come to pass.
In my opinion, it’s a happy accident when a compilation film feels like the total movie going experience. One that is so uncommon it only occurs perhaps once or twice a year. Sadly, Tears of Kali does not achieve this dubious distinction. That is not to say that the film feels incohesive. As a matter of fact, Director Andreas Marschall (Best know for creating the Nekromantik poster art) proves himself more than worthy of an accolade or two for making Tears of Kali’s separate stories flow. However, his ultimate decision to run each segment with its own credit sequence forces the viewer to evaluate each film as a totally separate entity from one another and may in part be the reason the film loses steam past the first hour. By using this technique, Marschall’s film plays more like episodic television with a brutal head for extreme gore. This would be of no consequence if I were watching HBO or Showtime, but for a film that had a brief theatrical run; the jarring nature of the credit sequences only reinforces the fact that I would be mentally restarting this film every 25 minutes.
Tears of Kali could be a great film, if the storylines were recut to provide some interesting duality. The decision to explore the nature of the Taylor-Eriksson group in the final segment contributes heavily to the films fault. Overall, the pure madness of the first two segments and the impressive effects implemented really assist in delivering a solid film from an exciting new director.