The Other Indian Superman Films

returnofmrsuperman

From Return of Mr. Superman (1960)

Before embarking on this Superman review series, I didn’t know there were even two Indian Superman films, let alone four! I was aware of the 1987 Bollywood version, and I had a sneaking suspicion that there were more knock-off versions somewhere else in the world, but it seems that India has something of a love for the Man of Steel.

The first film version was a 1960 film simply titled Superman, much like the later ’80s films. This version was directed by Mohammed Hussain (for those keeping score), and it starred Paidi Jairaj as both Supes and his Clark Kent alter-ego. I imagine he’s not called Clark Kent in this film, but info is real scarce on this film, so who knows.

There is a bit more info on the other 1960 Superman film out of India. Wha??? Yeah, in 1960 India produced two Superman films! The second film was originally to be titled Superman as well, but thanks to the other Superman film, the filmmakers of this version were forced to re-title their film. Somehow they arrived at Return of Mr. Superman, but the story of how they came to that is most likely lost to the sands of time. From what I found, it sounds like this film does adhere to many of the Superman hallmarks such as Superman crash-landing on a farm as a boy and being raised by surrogate parents, a journalist alter-ego, a Lois Lane type love interest, etc. Superman was once again portrayed by Paidi Jairaj in this film.

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The Brides of Dracula (1960)

Starring Peter Cushing, Martita Hunt, Yvonne Monlaur, Freda Jackson, David Peel, Miles Malleson, Henry Oscar, Mona Washbourne, Andree Melly

Directed by Terence Fisher

Expectations: Moderate, I’ve heard this one was weak.


I can’t believe it, but it’s been a whole year since last October! I know, right, who woulda thought? What I’m getting at is that last October I watched my first Hammer Horror films, loved them and hoped to check out more during the following year. The DVD of The Curse of the Werewolf also came with The Brides of Dracula, so I thought I was well on my way to attaining that goal. I decided to wait a bit after October, but weeks turned to months, and while I got dangerously close to watching this a number of times during the past few months, I instead decided to just wait until October and go for the whole full circle thing. Watching The Brides of Dracula has reminded me of something I had somewhat forgotten in the wake of my first Hammer films: that Hammer films are incredible! Oh man, I have no idea how I survived for so long without ever seeing one, as these would have been instant classics with me during my horror-starved adolescence.

The Brides of Dracula is an interesting Dracula movie in that there’s no Dracula! Spoiler alert for the first film in this series, but Dracula got plumb fucked up! The sun streamed down as he lay on that lovely zodiac wheel on his tile floor, and Dracula turned to ash. So I’m not totally surprised that in the sequel he’s still dead; there’s not really a way to come back from that, is there? OK, OK, there must be, because Hammer brought Christopher Lee back for the next film, and honestly I’m quite interested to see how exactly he does come back from that. But anyway, The Brides of Dracula! Don’t be fooled by the title, this isn’t specifically about Dracula’s brides, although the Dracula stand-in does eventually have a little harem going on.

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Jigoku (1960)

Jigoku [地獄] (1960)
AKA Hell & The Sinners of Hell

Starring Shigeru Amachi, Utako Mitsuya, Yôichi Numata, Hiroshi Hayashi, Jun Ôtomo, Akiko Yamashita, Kiyoko Tsuji, Fumiko Miyata, Torahiko Nakamura, Kimie Tokudaiji, Akiko Ono

Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa

Expectations: High.


Jigoku begins similarly to Nobuo Nakagawa’s previous film The Ghost of Yotsuya, slow yet interesting. The difference here is that where Yotsuya gets good quickly and builds itself to a fever pitch, Jigoku continues on about this slow yet interesting path till its final moments, resulting in a disappointing film that, unsurprisingly, is slow yet interesting. It opens with a song, like Yotsuya, and this song’s key lyric relates that some criminals may slip through the net of the law, but no one can evade their own conscience.

Jigoku has a plot, but it’s one that isn’t really integral to the experience. Those seeking a standard narrative flow should look elsewhere, as Jigoku has other priorities in mind. What exactly those priorities are, I haven’t quite figured out, but I don’t mean to say that the film seems unfocused or poorly made. On the contrary, it is very sure of itself and focused, but most of its impact and symbolism was completely lost on me. For instance, there’s a ton of females with umbrellas in the film. There’s a woman towards the end who’s trapped on a burning water wheel. These and many more are all things that I’m sure have deeper meanings, but again, they were lost on me. Perhaps with another viewing they could reveal their meanings, but I doubt I’ll be watching this again anytime soon.

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