‘Mystics in Bali’ from 1981 is truly one one wild and crazy Indonesian horror flick and just what I was craving during lockdown! My first viewing of this gem would have admittedly been better had I not known a damn thing about the plot, so if you’re reading this and are interested, I’d suggest checking it out blindly to get maximum enjoyment! So you’ve been warned…
Anyway I’m kinda new to the whole Indonesian cult cinema scene, but I can say so far everything I’ve checked out has been pretty top notch. Mystics in Bali is 100% weird and wild. It follows an American named Cathy who travels to Bali to do extensive research for her book on the mystic ways of the mysterious black magic cult of the Leyak. She meets the handsome Mahendra a local man with knowledge of the dark local magic who also happens to have connections to a woodland witch. He takes her out to the forest to her lair and the bizarre woman vows to expose the secrets of the dark arts and their rituals to Cathy. Excited to get this exclusive info for her book she continues to meet the witch, who in turn tricks her into becoming her evil minion, transforming her into a Penanggalan, a horrific flying head with internal organs hanging from her neck!! GAAAHHHH!
Things go from bad to worse, as Mahendra has fallen in love with Cathy by this point and has no other choice than to ask his uncle Machessea practitioner of magic himself, to help him stop the witch and save Cathy from the curse of the sinister Leyak. This leads to a pretty epic battle towards the end making the whole thing a such a bizarre slice of foreign 80’s horror, it’s most definitely essential viewing for genre fans! There’s a pretty intriguing story here to fuel the horror as well along with the sets and general locale of the film make this a special treat by just that alone. There’s also some low budget but fully ambitious special effects at play here that really amp up the general madness of this movie. Also prevalent are a few relatively shocking moments here that are unlike anything I’ve personally ever seen before in a horror flick.
Some “must see” sequences that will stick with fans of the genre and leave you scratching your head in disbelief! The creature Cathy becomes is clearly the main attraction here and surely is one of the freakiest movie monsters I’ve seen in some time. The final showdown is a pretty great time as well, sure it’s a clunky battle, but it’s a ton of fun to behold. It’s no wonder that this movie was done by the same director, H. Tjut Djalil who also brought us the mega bonkers ‘Lady terminator’ which is def worth tracking down! I’ve also heard that his movie ‘Dangerous Seductress’ is quite a wild gem as well. So..Mystics in Bali is a true oddball, one of a kind horror flick and leads me further down the path of an era of movies other countries were producing during the 80’s that rival some of the best the USA had to offer-Check it out!
I’m not real familiar with with Indonesian cinema, but last night I watched a dvd (yeah a DVD folks!!!!) I got in the mail from Netflix that’s been in my queue for well over a year. The 1984 Swords and Sorcery fantasy martial arts adventure, ‘The Devil’s Sword’ from director Ratno Timoer. I really didn’t have any expectations, in fact I was fully prepared to turn this one off after 10 minutes, however that was most definitely not the case. Nope! Instead The Devil’s Sword immediately won me over with some impressive joyfully bad choreographed magical martial arts battles taking place in a truly stunning exotic jungle location. If you’re a fan of cheezy fantasy movies from the 1980’s then this one’s gonna be right up your damn alley. It’s also alerted me to the Indonesian action star Barry Prima, maybe I’m late to the Prima party, but a quick look on Letterboxd at his filmography revealed what appears to be an overload of action, fantasy, horror hybrid gems just waiting to be leaped into.
This one has pretty much got it all, wildly stupid martial arts, sword battles, magic, monsters, babes & hunks galore! All of it 100% ridiculous, macho man Barry Prima stars as “Mandola”, basically “Rambo the barbarian” looking remarkably similar to Sly Stallone (with a smooth fully stupid dub track that seems like it might even enhance viewing pleasures). He’s also got a radical bad ass female co star, who right out of the gates lays a smackdown on a gang o’ goons & who aids the mighty Mandola in his epic quest to destroy a wicked witch, the sultry and seductive Crocodile queen! She’s indeed quite a woman and has tons of male sex servants one of them the kidnapped husband of Mandola’s female ally! She’s also got a gang of some of the worst, most idiotic looking, crocodile/human minions that really just have to be seen to be believed. Some of these fights too go on for way, way too long but in that sort of “They Live” sorta way. I mean check this out if you think I’m full of shit!
Mandola ends up on this epic quest when some of The Crocodile Queen’s assassins injure his master’s legs and he himself is forced to saw them off! The Devil’s Sword definitely doesn’t skimp on some wild gore either, limbs and heads are chopped off, accompanied by sprays of blood. There’s also a dab of indiana Jones thrown in as Mandola explores caverns filled with hordes of bats and one supremely stupid looking giant cyclops! I guess they were lucky that Indonesia is such a beautiful place, because some of the locales add a solid a layer of legitimacy to the whole experience, suddenly I’m eyeing Indonesia as a future dream vacation.
The Devil’s Sword has really energized an interest in not only the country but also in some of the wild cinema it had to offer back in the 70’s & 80’s as well as a strong curiosity in it’s main man, Barry Prima! Check this flick out, it’s the perfect watch with a case of beer and some friends to enjoy all the unintentional wackiness strewn about the screen. There’s a dvd out there that Mondo Macabro put out years ago I think you can still snatch, or hey if you’re like me just put it on the dvd by mail list from Netflix!
I just wanted to take a second of your time here to let you you all know that I saw “The Raid: Redemption” last night on the big screen and it’s by far living up to all the hype. This new Indonesian film pulls no punches and sets the standard for all action films that dare to come after. Sorry future action films but at this point you may want to throw in the towel! Stallone if you haven’t already seen this movie you may want to go back reshoot the upcoming Expendables 2 because I’m fairly certain it ain’t gonna come anywhere close to The Raid.
The last films I saw that came anywhere close were those of Tony Jaa like my personal favorite The Protector and his Ong Bak stuff. But even those now seem to have been under minded by The Raid. I am sure it won’t be long before the films main star Iko Uwais hits American films and director Gareth Evans as well.
It’s funny because Holly wood has already jumped all over this film and are planning a remake…uggh….why spoil a beautiful thing? How about just push this original version?
Also the films other star was Pencak Silat, the Indonesian martial art. Watching this style of fighting is truly breathtaking however glamorized or exaggerated it was. Another star worth mentioning from the movie was Yayan Ruhian who plays “Mad Dog” the main crime lord’s number one henchman. He really serves as the movies major villain and his final battle is one that will be remembered for decades.
The movie is beautifully shot, incredibly tense & jam packed with some of the best action sequences I have ever seen. It’s one of the few action movies I have seen that had the crowd actually cheering, ooing and ahhing. Well I can’t say they just don’t make ’em like that anymore because they did. Step aside John Woo…
Here’s a little video I found that showcases some real Pencak Silat in action in the real world….
Well here are a couple action flicks I dare any major studio to try and beat! Sorry Stallone I am sure your upcoming PG-13 Expendables II will be fun but in comparison “The Raid: Redemption” it’s going to most likely end up looking like an episode of GI Joe from the eighties! But so far from what I heard The Raid is being hailed as arguably the best action flick of all time. So far by seeing several clips and hearing the synopsis it’s quite possible this Indonesian film will win the medal!
“Deep in the heart of Jakarta’s slums lies an impenetrable derelict apartment building which became a safe house for the world’s most dangerous killers and gangsters. The rundown apartment block has been considered untouchable to even the bravest of police. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness and silence, an elite team is tasked with raiding the building in order to take down the notorious drug lord who runs it. But when a chance encounter with a spotter blows their cover and news of their assault reaches the drug lord, the building’s lights are cut off and all exits are blocked. Stranded on the 6th floor with no way out, the unit must fight their way through the city’s worst criminals to survive their mission.”
The next movie looks like it just has to be seen to be believed. It’s opening this week in Portland Oregon where I live and yeah well it looks like the most ridiculous action movie of all time. “The FP” involves two rival gangs who do battle by way of deadly games of Dance Dance Revolution. Yeah you heard that right somehow you can die by playing this game, I am not sure how but apparently in this movie anything can happen!
Obviously this movie wasn’t meant to be taken seriously-but if it had been it would have been even more brilliant! Listen to some of the dialogue for cryin’ out loud! I am not sure if the idea loses it’s charm quickly in this movie but I am willing to bet you never see anything quite like it ever again! This is the “Rocky” of lame dance games! Check it!