T-shirts from the crypt
- Bollywood Crypt aims to become India’s first official horror merchandise store
- The company has signed the merchandising rights for seven films by the Ramsay brothers
Indian horror got its second life in 2018. Netflix’s dystopian miniseries Ghoul put it on the global map, while films like Stree, Pari and Tumbbad—all three directorial debuts—were a breath of fresh air for a genre that has looked like it has run out of ideas in recent years. But long before the sleek cinematography and CGI monsters of contemporary horror films, India got its heebie-jeebies watching the campy, Hammer studio-inspired creations of the Ramsay Brothers. For over 40 years, the Ramsays have been the undisputed pioneers and masters of Indian horror cinema, thanks to such cult classics as Purani Haveli, Veerana and Dak Bangla. Now, a Bengaluru-based merchandising company called Bollywood Crypt wants to put the Ramsays—and other South Asian horror contemporaries—in the spotlight with a range of official merchandise designed by international and local artists connected to the horror industry.
“The Ramsays are India’s cultural icons in the horror scene, and we should be representing them on the international stage," says the company’s 40-year-old founder Sandesh Shenoy, a former marketing professional who also runs independent Extreme Metal Music label Cyclopean Eye Productions. “The general perception of their films is that they were low-budget and cheesy, but, if you watch them carefully, you’ll see that a lot of their work is inspired by horror icons like Dario Argento and London’s Hammer Studio. They’ve taken a lot of really interesting ideas from international horror and weaved them into stories based on Indian myths and culture."
Bollywood Crypt has bought the official merchandising rights for seven Ramsay Brothers films: Veerana, Bandh Darwaza, Purana Mandir, Purani Haveli, Mahakaal, Tahkhaana and Saamri. Shenoy plans to release T-shirts, flags, posters, enamel pins and other merchandise related to the movies, starting with a Veerana T-shirt ( ₹700) that is currently available for pre-order at Instamojo.com/BollywoodCrypt. The design has been created by Detroit-based Slasher Dave, an artist and musician who produces music inspired by 1970s/1980s horror soundtracks and also plays in American stoner/doom metal band Acid Witch.
“I’m collaborating with artists who are musicians but are also already working in the horror industry," says Shenoy. “The next one, Bandh Darwaza, is being designed by an artist who does work for extreme metal bands."
Apart from the Ramsays, Bollywood Crypt has also bought the rights for Zinda Laash and Zibahkhana, Pakistan’s first vampire and slasher films, respectively. Shenoy also hopes to expand into other cult pop culture iconography, including grind house and gangster films, folklore, and comics.
“Bollywood Crypt will focus on South Asian horror, folklore and pop culture, but I am also in the process of tying up with companies from Japan and the US," says Shenoy. “I want to create the first proper horror merchandising store in India."