Captain Harry Lewis is a good man. He is an officer and a gentleman and when he learns of the many men and women that go missing every day in India; he wants to do something about it. His superiors fail to care in the slightest and do not see it as their problem and so Lewis takes it upon himself to discover why these people go missing on a continual basis, to which he does. What follows is a film based upon true events from Hammer Studios, one that is truly frightening simply because of that aspect with its look at the cult of Kali and the evil that was committed in India for so many years in the name of a goddess.
Directed by Terence Fisher, the film is rife with suspense and littered with action as we watch the cult go about its business of strangling and murdering helpless caravans who want nothing more than to go about their business. It is a moody piece, shot entirely in black and white and where many films from Hammer went for the blood and guts to elicit its scares, this film would turn to faith-based crimes, specifically strangling in the name of Kali, and it turned out to be an entirely different kind of film, one not usually associated the studio and because of this, The Stranglers of Bombay turned out to be one of their better pictures. It might have had a low budget and it did not feature any of their regular big-name attractions, but it never failed to entertain and Fisher really managed to turn this small and unassuming property into something special.
When it comes down to it, the movie is about two opposing personalities, a man who worships a higher power and believes that by doing evil he is doing the bidding of Kali and another who knows right from wrong and knows that the people who are being killed do not and did not deserve it. Good versus evil is a classic theme that has been played out many times on film and Guy Rolfe who plays our hero Lewis and George Pastell who stars as the High Priest put on a good show as the two men who both do what they think is right. Pastell is excellent as the villain, full of zealotry but it is Rolfe who is the star of the picture, with a charisma that is nice to see in a movie that may not be of the highest calibre. With Jan Holden, Andrew Cruickshank, Marie Devereux, Marne Maitland and Paul Stassino rounding out the cast, the film was successful not only because of its themes and direction but also due to the performances of those involved.
The Stranglers of Bombay may not be the kind of horror film that you are used to seeing from Hammer, also because it is not set firmly in that genre or any other, but it is a movie that proves the studio was able to do different things and you will find it well worth your time.