Grot (1985)


Grot (1985)
Cast: Fonna Pura, Patricia Hiraldo, Ch. Malik Butt Tondwallah
Director: Ch. Malik Butt Tondwallah
Nutshell: Ultra-Weird masked slasher short including a grisly decapitation scene!


Grot is an elusive underground film full of Eraserhead inspired nightmarish visions that border on the edge of drug induced hallucinations. It all begins on a murky, cold chilly day in Boston where dusky svelte beauty Fonna Pura is strolling nonchalantly through the Common littering profusely with her Saks theatre popcorn, only half of which reach her mouth, the rest scatter to the floor for mutated pigeons to devour. As Fonna continues to gorge and pollute, there appears to be an insidious, lurking presence watching her…she subconsciously feels threatened and quickens her step homeward as something dark stirs within the bowels of the filthy, polluted depths of the Boston Common pond. Close up shots of Fonna’s eyes follow as she begins to display signs of panic, then a chilling ominous shot of a bulging eye, surely not human – an eye that watches and waits for its moment to pounce.

Fonna hurries home feeling decidedly tense, sensing the presence of an unseen stalker all the way back to the safety of her rather Spartan apartment. She puts the kettle on (in a clear homage to Friday the 13th Part 2) before deciding on a relaxing shower (a rather stale reference to Psycho). Meanwhile the bulging eye makes a return and for the first time we see the hideous contorted face of the stalker who proceeds to pick up a sharp carving knife before edging towards the showering Fonna. The inevitable ensues but just when it appears all over for Fonna, she awakens bathed in sweat (not blood) having suffered the worst nightmare!

Immediately Fonna once again seems to sense dread hanging in the air as she makes her to the bathroom exactly as she had done in her ghastly dream just moments ago. Could the nightmare be a forewarning or is she just hallucinating again having taken one mushroom trip to many that semester?

Grot was made way in the mid 80’s when horror was badly in need of a new direction yet this film retreads the same stalk and slash territory of so many of its predecessors even if there is the element of uncertainty of what is real and what is illusion – a theme so brilliantly exploited by Wes Craven with Nightmare on Elm Street.
When Grot was unleashed on bewildered college campuses in the Boston and Haverhill area it caused a flutter as audiences were taken aback at the upfront, unflinching approach to violence and gore that the film contains. There is a memorable decapitation scene that had crowds reaching for their barf bags even if the effects were not quite the standard one expects these days. Grot was occasionally doubled up with Hussein Ibish’s notorious genre classic Blue Mummy which featured scenes of graphic necrophilia and had audiences reeling in sheer disgust! together these two films made a double feature to match any for sheer audacity or even notoriety.

In all, the dada-esque montage and disturbingly weird style seem to have taken precedence over substance and Grot comes across as a couple of surreal nightmarish visions linked without any cohesive plot or indeed point. It’s a stylish piece of gibberish that shows considerable visual flair but very little grasp of basic storytelling skills.
Fonna Pura, a veteran at Bubonic Films features in this bizarre little (very little) item, performing with the polish of a seasoned professional even if she was never paid for any of her Herculean efforts. Her roles as the Ayah in Bunion and as the warped, man-lusting Countess Kroda clearly show that Ms. Pura was an acting force to be reckoned with, especially in the domain of exploitation-horror. Dominican beauty Patricia Hiraldo doubled for Fonna in some of the last scenes, but only her feet and hands were used. Malik Tondwallah is suitably menacing as the shadowy presence with the unnaturally bulging eyes. Perhaps the one question that the filmmaker neglected to tackle was of the motivation for the retribution from the depths which led to the vicious attack on a seemingly innocent woman? Could it have been the popcorn pollution?

The film is a complete rarity and recently the original soundtrack was destroyed in an unfortunate accident. Select audiences have viewed the film at a handful of screenings in Boston, Haverhill as well as London and even Islamabad where the only known print of this twisted, manic film were seriously mangled for good. Heavily influenced by Eraserhead, Halloween and Psycho – Grot would never qualify for any awards yet remains a memorably weird and nightmarish vision – clearly the workings of a sick, depraved mind.