One from the to watch pile…
The Queen of Black Magic aka Ratu Ilmu Hitam (1979)
Film: I don’t know much about the Indonesian film industry outside of the documentaries Machete Maidens Unleashed and The Search for Weng Weng, but what I do know is the film Mystics in Bali is a freaking gem, and one of my favourite movies. Of what I have seen , though, I have to say the thing I enjoy the most about Indonesian horror, and for that matter, all international horror, particular Asian, is the totally foreign ideas and myths that I may have not been exposed to before.
This film was directed by Liliek Sudjio, and features stars of Indonesian cinema Suzzanah and W. D. Mochtar (whose wife Sofia W.D. Is also in this film).
The Queen of Black Magic tells the story of a young woman, Murni, who is not only spurned by her lover, Kohar, so he can marry another, more reputable woman of the town, Buda. He accuses her of being a practitioner of Black Magic after his wife starts seeing things and the men of the town catch her and throw her off a cliff…
…into the hands of a mystic who teaches her the ways of Black Magic so she can get her revenge on the townspeople. She resists at first, but once they kill her mother, the evil gloves come off, and the carnage begins!
So straight up the effects are, at times, hokey and the strings for some of the effects are quite clear. I am one who generally am more forgiving of practical effects than CGI ones, and when you see the doco about El Badrun in the extras, you’ll see that it low-tech cause the conditions of the industry are the same.
The story is a simple tale of revenge, but it’s told with such a sense of fun, which may or may not be deliberate, that one can’t help but enjoy the proceedings. The dubbing is also amusing, almost like a cartoon in its very deliberate delivery. Both of these elements make the film feel quite quaint, and childlike, even though the subjects of Black Magic, religion, and a Muslim hero may seem quite controversial in today’s world.
It’s a fun film and an entertaining 90 minutes, though you won’t come away from it with your life changed.
Note: The Mondo Macabro disc lists this film as being a 1979 release, and IMDb note it as 1983. I have deferred to the Mondo Macabro disc for my review.
Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the US, Mondo Macabro release on a region free DVD which runs for approximately 90 minutes. The image is presented in a clear 2.35:1 image with a mono soundtrack, which is decent but nothing special.
About the Film is a text piece by Pete Tombs and tells of the history of the films production company, and a bit about the Indonesian film industry. It’s quite an interesting read and will probably spur you on to more research into Indonesian horror.
The trailer is what you would expect it to be: the trailer!
Indonesian Light & Magic: A Tour around the studio of SFX Maestro El Badrun is a look through the bamboo walled special effects studio of El Badrun. Like a lot of young special effects artists, he learnt from reading books and giving it a go, and this is a pretty cool piece showing his make-shift ways of doing SFX.
More from Mondo Macabro DVD is a series of trailers including Snake Sisters, Mystics in Bali, The Blood Rose, The Bollywood Horror Collection,Snake Dancer, The Devil’s Sword, Lifespan, Don’t Deliver Us From Evil, Satan’s Blood, Virgins From Hell, For Your Height Only, French Sex Murders, The Deathless Devil, Living Doll, Satanico Pandemonium, Panic Beats, Clonus, The Killer Must Kill Again, The Mansion of Madness, Alucarda, The Diabolical Dr. Z, Aswang, The Living Corpse, Blood of the Virgins, Seven Woman for Satan, Lady Terminator, Crazy Love, Mill of the Stone Women, Dangerous Seductress and Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay. Actually it’s more one big trailer with segments of all those other trailers edited together.
WISIA: It is OK, but it’s no Mystics in Bali, so I might watch it again, but it won’t hover at the top of the Re-watch pile.