It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Stranglers of Bombay (1959, Terence Fisher)

Although not a horror movie this is still an exciting and thrilling adventure film that clearly had some influence on Steven Spielberg’s and George Lucas’ Temple of Doom (1985). The Stranglers of Bombay deals with a murderous Indian cult known as the religious cult of Kalias, which was run by men known as Thuggees. They terrorized the country until the British finally defeated it, thus reflecting how the English believed that in conquering other countries they were bring order to “Uncivilized” cultures. Fisher doesn’t exactly reflect that in this film however, as the colonial and political subtexts are either pushed aside or not deemed important, while the film’s main purpose is to be a movie thrill ride that entertains the audience instead. Which is too bad, although in the 1950s a movie questioning British colonialism at a time when the British were losing their empire probably would not have been too popular with audiences.

One of my favorite parts is when the young captain, named Henry Lewis (played elegantly by Guy Rolfe) has to be saved from a cobra by a brave mongoose in an exciting and very real fight to the death. The cult leader really lacks any type of personality and therefore isn’t really menacing although he is not actually the main villain. The movie has crisp, clear action sequences and is very straightforward which is not completely a bad thing. While not featuring the main stars that populated most of Hammer Studios films I liked that The Stranglers of Bombay has a cast that I was not familiar with, as it makes things more unpredictable. This is one Hammer Studios film that should have been rewarded with a sequel, as the future exploits of Lewis would have been also fun to watch onscreen. Oh well.

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