Film Review: The Stranglers of Bombay (1959)

Also known as: Stranglers of Bengal (alternative title)
Release Date: December 4th, 1959 (UK)
Directed by: Terence Fisher
Written by: David Zelag Goodman
Music by: James Bernard
Cast: Guy Rolfe, Allan Cuthbertson, Andrew Cruickshank

Hammer Films, Columbia Pictures, 80 Minutes

Review:

“Whoever rules decides the truth.” – Patel Shari

I have never seen this long lost Hammer Films gem. Granted, I don’t think many people in modern times have seen this.

However, I’d gather that the people working at Lucasfilm in the early ’80s knew the picture, as some pretty major elements from it are pretty damn similar to some of the plot details in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Now Temple of Doom isn’t a blatant ripoff of this but it seems pretty likely that George Lucas himself was inspired by The Stranglers of Bombay, as he wrote the story to the film before handing it off the script writers Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. Beyond just that, it’s aesthetically similar, as well.

While this isn’t as great as Temple of Doom it is a pretty good occult horror flick that features action and adventure. It’s primarily about a cult in India that is very much like the one headed by Mola Ram in that 1984 Indiana Jones movie.

However, this is pretty slow moving and uneventful for good stretches of the film. It does make an impact in the scenes where it really leans into the cult in their activities, though. It’s dark, creepy and I really like the costumes, sets and general look of the picture.

With that, I don’t think that this has aged well and other films have come along and done this better.

In fact, besides Temple of Doom, Hammer even did a loose remake of this just two years later with Christopher Lee as a Fu Manchu type of character. That picture was called The Terror of the Tongs and while it’s not an exact remake, it reimagines these concepts and sets the story in China. I plan to review that one in a few weeks.

As for The Stranglers of Bombay, it’s certainly worth seeing if you’re a Temple of Doom fan but if you just like occult horror in general, it’s still a decent movie to dive into.

Rating: 6/10