Satan’s Slave (1982)

Satan's Slave

The film starts off at a burial ceremony with an upper-class family who’s lost their mother to a mysterious illness, and sets the eerie tone right off with Islamic chants and the feeling that there’s something wicked in the air. That same night, the family’s son, Tomi, receives an unexpected visit from the dead mother in a ghostly form, who knocks on his window and hypnotizes him to go out in his pajamas, while his sister Rita is witnessing the incident. Tomi goes to a fortune teller (who is wearing some really big sunglasses) who can tell through his tarot cards that Tomi’s life is full of darkness, and that the coffin his mother was buried in is suitable for the whole family, and that they are all in danger – and that he must defend himself with black magic.

 

In his bedroom, Tomi makes a small altar with a little red box, using horror comics and cheap satanism paperbacks as decorations. No one but Tomi takes this seriously, and his sister thinks he’s losing his mind. Since the father of the family is a stressed and busy entrepreneur with bloodshot eyes, he hires a maid (Darminah), who looks pretty much like the fortune teller we saw minutes earlier, only without the big sunglasses (Uh-oh, nothing shady with her, of course not). At the same time, Tomi has upgraded his altar down in the basement, and this time he’s decorated it with candles and and several Halloween masks by famous Universal monsters. He is also being haunted with night terrors where he is sacrificed by a satanic cult. And that’s not far from a premonition when the sisters receive some creepy phone calls, and the house caretaker, Karto, starts to die slowly of asphyxiation.

 

I see people comparing Satan’s Slave to Phantasm (1979) and yes, there are some similarities to spot here, without diving to much into comparisons . The eerie and slightly surreal atmosphere is all over the place, and it mixes traditional superstition with some more obscure Asian folklore that we have to thank  Wikipedia for being able to understand. I can mention the image we see of their dead mother, which is actually a “Kuntilanak”, a mythological, vengeful female astral spirit who’s associated with – yeah, take a wild guess – black magic. Sadako from Ringu could also be placed into a similar category, just to mention a more known example. And even though writer and director Sisworo Gautama Putra took some obvious influences from Phantasm, the film has its own unique distinctiveness.

 

And no, just to make it clear, this is not at the same level as the acid trip Mystics in Bali , which came from the same country the year before Satan’s Slave. The plot is pretty straight-forward and far more conventional than expected, really. The downside is that it doesn’t manage to get especially scary, and maybe the laughable goofy acting is to blame for that, especially during the second act. The film looks really great, though, filled with atmosphere, haunting visuals and a fitting synth score. The make-up effects are also great. There’s some obvious fog machines hiding on the set which can make it look somewhat outdated, but will for others just add more to the good ole’ retro charm. So overall, if you don’t take it too seriously, Satan’s Slave is an entertaining flick, with a lot of ghoulish fun that’s perfect to add on a Halloween-playlist.

 

Thanks to the acclaimed remake that came in 2017, Satan’s Slave was for the first time released on DVD and Blu-ray from Severin Films with polished quality. It’s also available on Shudder.

 

Satan's Slave Satan's Slave

 

Director: Sisworo Gautama Putra
Original title: Pengabdi Setan
Country & year: Indonesia, 1982
Actors: Ruth Pelupessi, W.D. Mochtar, Fachrul Rozy, Simon Cader, Siska Widowati, H.I.M. Damsyik, Diana Suarkom, Doddy Sukma, Ali Albar, Adang Mansyur, Moesdewyk, S. Parya, Dewi
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0281048/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impetigore (2019)

ImpetigoreMaya and her friend Dini are working at toll booths, and one night Maya is attacked by one of the drivers who appeared to recognize her: a man who claims he’s from a village called Harjosari, and he’s calling her by another name: Rahayu. Upon attacking her, the man is stopped and killed by the police, but the encounter leaves Maya with a ton of unanswered questions. Since her aunt, who raised her from a very young age, is dead and she’s got no other family to contact, she follows the inscription of an old photo which shows a young Maya with her parents, outside a large house which is supposed by be located somewhere in the Harjosari village. Together with her best friend Dini, they decide to travel from the city and find out if she might inherit that property, hoping that this might be a turn of events for them both. When they enter the secluded village, however, they quickly take notice of one apparent and strange thing about the place: the lack of any children, and a graveyard whose tombstones implies that for many years, no children have survived long after their birth. The villagers also appear to be somewhat hostile, and Maya concludes that it’s best to keep her identity a secret for the time being, representing themselves as students whose intent is interviewing the village elder because of his famous traditional shadow puppetry performances (Wayang Kulit). Maya’s real intent is, of course, to question the elder about her parents and the house, claiming her inheritance. However, as luck would have it he’s away from the village at the moment, and they need to wait until the next day. Upon finding Maya’s abandoned family home, they decide to secretly take residence there…but neither Maya nor Dini was prepared for the danger that awaits them in this village.

 

Joko Anwar’s previous horror film, Satan’s Slaves (a remake of Satan’s slave from 1980), ended up being the highest grossing horror films in Indonesia, and have received a fair amount of praise abroad as well. And while Impetigore is his second horror movie to be released, the script for it was actually finished back in 2010. The original title of the movie is Perempuan Tanah Jahanam, and the international title Impetigore is actually a combination of two words: Impetigo (a bacterial infection of the skin), and, well…gore, of course, enough of it for Mr. Ghööl to hand out a certain badge.

 

With a combination of folklore, a curse, an isolated village in the countryside and family secrets, Impetigore is a feast for those who like atmospheric supernatural horror. The scenes featuring a performance of the traditional Indonesian art of Wayang Kulit (a form of shadow puppetry made from animal skin) is beautiful and entrancing to watch, and of course, these puppets also have a significant meaning to the story. The village, the house, all the surroundings make for a visually striking experience.

 

Like Joko Anwar’s film Satan’s Slaves, he’s using a “vintage” song by The Spouse (Aimee and Tony) who was put together to make the OST for the aforementioned film. The song used in Impetigore is called Pujaan Hati, and together with the rest of the soundtrack for the film it works wonders in amplifying the atmosphere. After all, a creepy (yet beautiful) vintage-styled song fits like a hand in glove when it comes to atmospheric and supernatural-themed horror movies.

 

The film is available on Shudder, but that is of course no help for those of us who lives in no-Shudder land (like Horror Ghouls, who live in Norway where Shudder apparently have no plans of expanding). While we Horror Ghouls are “old fashioned” enough to still favour the physical format (we have it on Blu-ray), there are other alternatives for renting/buying online like for example Google Play, YouTube, Amazon etc. depending on your location.

 

Impetigore

 

Director: Joko Anwar
Original title: Perempuan Tanah Jahanam
Country & year: Indonesia, 2019
Actors: Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim, Asmara Abigail, Kiki Narendra, Afrian Aris, Zidni Hakim, Faradina Mufti, Abdurrahman Arif, Muhammad Abe Baasyin, Mursiyanto, Ahmad Ramadhan
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt9000302/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystics in Bali (1981)

Mystics in BaliThe author Kathy Keen is on a trip in Bali, Indonesia, to do some research on an ancient black magic called Leák. She has already been to Africa where she learned about Voodoo, but she needs more material to fill her book on the subject of black magic. She gets help from a guy called Hendra, who’s got some knowledge of the local folklore, and he also soon becomes her love interest. He takes her to the obscure corners of the jungle where they meet The Queen of Leák, a crazy old witch with a cackling, screaming and over-the-top animated laugh. And it is obvious that the person who dubbed her voice had a really fun time in the recording studio. Anyway, it’s already hard to describe what’s going on here, but it’s something like this: the witch orders Catherine to take off her skirt so that the witch can tattoo something on her leg, using what looks like a long lizard tongue. If this sounds bizarre, you haven’t seen nothing yet. The tattoo is supposed to be a sign that Kathy is now an official student of Leák, and must come to her every night to learn more about this mysterious magic. And it’s straight down the rabbit-hole from here on, where Kathy and the witch dances like drunk hippies, transform themselves into pythons, flying screaming fireballs, and … pigs. You just saw that coming, right? And we get other things that include a flying head which you just have to see for yourself to believe.

 

The witch uses the body of Kathy to posses her, and wrecks havoc on the locals. This becomes too much for her love interest, who asks his shaman uncle how they can stop Leák and her black magic, so he can get his beloved Kathy back before it’s too late. And after this I can easily understand why Bali is one of the most risky places to visit. Just kidding.

 

Trying to explain this film to someone on a tired Monday, is almost impossible. And I find it a little funny that this is the first true Indonesian horror film aimed at a western audience. So, if this should be an easy thing to digest for us simple-people in the west without raising any eyebrows, I can’t even imagine in my wildest  dreams what the regular horror movies from that country looks like. And I’m not at all familiar with Indonesian horror films, or Indonesian films at all for that matter, so I’m really eager to take a further look behind that curtain, if I’m even allowed to.

 

After doing some research one can learn that the film mixes several obscure myths and folklore from Indonesia and Bali, such as the flying head with its organs attached, which is called a Penanggalan. It’s their own version of the vampire myth, basically. The sight of the head floating around with strings, with its primitive effects from the stone age, is just pure cheesy gold. And it’s not easy to tell when the film is trying to be serious or intentionally funny when the completely absurd tone is all over the place. A truly unique oddball of a film, with a lot of bizarre, unpredictable crazy scenes one after another, and highly entertaining, that’s all I really can say.

 

Mystics in Bali

 

Director: H. Tjut Djalil
Original title: Leák
Country & year: Indonesia, 1981
Actors: Ilona Agathe Bastian, Yos Santo, Sofia W.D., W.D. Mochtar, Debbie Cinthya Dewi, Itje Trisnawati, Ketut Suwita,
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0097942/

 

Tom Ghoul