Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dangerous Seductress – review


Release Date: 1992

Director: H Tjut Djalil

Contains spoilers

This Indonesian film is on a vampire filmography I have and has a note that it is a remake of Rollin’s The Living Dead Girl. Let us just squash this rumour right now. This has absolutely nothing at all in common with ‘the Living Dead Girl’, not one iota of the story is similar. This is a wholly different beast. It actually mixes up the witch and vampire genre quite considerably but, whilst it straddles both camps, it most definitely is vampiric.

The film starts of with a cityscape view and then we get a car chase, one of the most strange and bizarre ones put to celluloid. It involves a thieves’ car and a cop car. There is a thief in the back of the car and two up front and the front passenger keeps hitting the driver as they are being chased because the driver shot a cop in the robbery. When I say hit I mean punched, but somehow without causing a crash. The cops and thieves are firing at each other. The fire fight involves both pistols and machine guns and they are all the worst shots in the world. Eventually the cops call for backup, once they are out of the city, and backup is a police motorbike. This drives at the robbers, with the rider firing, leaps over the thieves car and hits the cop car.

Now, you’d think that was the end of it but the thieves go careening into a graveyard and crash after the driver receives yet another punch, which leads to the puncher being impaled (and yet still able to complain). The cops come along and ram them, enabling the driver to speed off again and crash. The resultant crash causes the loss of an arm and a finger and is witnessed by American Linda (Kristin Anin) as it is outside her home. Ambulances come and go and then the ‘fun’ begins… we get the most bizarre resurrection scene.

animated fingerWind shifts some dirt and a piece of jewellery is revealed (actually it turns out later to be more like a possessed, hand carved makeup mirror). Blood drips from a tree onto it and it opens. The un-retrieved severed finger makes its way along the floor (honestly, I couldn’t make this up) to the jewellery and it snaps shut on it as though it had eaten it.

her spirit?Lightening starts to hit the ground and in the flash we see a woman (Amy Weber) appear (I assume this was her spirit) and then disappear again. A leg bone finds its way to an uncovered skeleton and reattaches itself and then flesh starts to form on the skeleton. Eventually it reveals her face, but the body is still rotten – a wail is emitted (and continues on and off through the scene). She stands and a dog comes over and tries to steal the skeletal leg. It is beheaded for its trouble, and its blood shoots like a jet straight into her mouth.

Amy Weber as the Queen of DarknessWe see her face form fangs as more of her body reforms. She tries to move but her feet, which are in a hole, are grabbed by hands and she cannot move. She wails some more and her nipples glow a blue/white. Why do her nipples glow? For the same reason that her bum glows later and someone else’s nipples glow – so that we can’t see them. The Queen of Darkness has returned but is held in a hole!

Somewhere in America Suzy (Tonya Lawson) has given up waiting for her boyfriend John (Joseph Cassano) to get home for their anniversary dinner. He gets there eventually and seems drunk, he gives her a ring, is forgiven and gets amorous with her. When she refuses him he beats her and tries to rape her. It is quite a disturbing scene, to be honest, one would say brutal. She gets away with the prodigious use of a glass and a cupboard rail.

here, have a dangerous book of spellsIn Jakarta Linda is having a birthday party. Actually we get about five minutes of her dancing with her fiancée Bob (John Warom) and I’ll mention the film’s pacing later. A friend comes in and he has brought a colleague called Beko (Mick Carmichael). Beko has brought Linda an occult book for her birthday – as you do; give the American model, whom you have never met before, the ancient Indonesian book of spells! The phone goes and it is Suzy, who happens to be Linda’s sister. Linda gets her on a flight to Jakarta.

a holy man in BaliLinda has to go on a modelling shoot in Bali (I promise we are getting to a point) and leaves Suzy, and the book. Suzy says a spell to gain beauty, strength and glamour and, as a result, summons the Queen of Darkness into a mirror. Suzy will have all she wishes, but the Queen will use her body to gain sustenance… ahh the point, at last. Suzy becomes the dangerous seductress, getting men and feeding from them. Will her family realise in time? Perhaps so, if the mysterious holy man in Bali can warn Linda but, ultimately, could we care?

Tonya Lawson as SuzyLore wise this is mad. Suzy gains magic powers, this is much more than your atypical eye mojo, we are talking full on spells and witchcraft. This only seems to happen at night, she is attacked during the day and cannot defend herself. She seems to be able to turn the head of every man she meets. Once alone her mystic tattoo, which appeared when she made the deal, glows and she grows fangs – she doesn’t tend to bite though.

jet of blood into mouthShe despatches the men in a variety of ways. One, for instance, she spear guns in the leg, pinning him to a wall, and then stabs him in the neck with a stiletto heel. The spurt of blood goes straight into her mouth in a jet. Once back at home she looks to the Queen in the mirror and slits her own throat, the blood jets into the mirror, feeding the Queen. We get an odd reference moment when some lads are talking and one describes her first murder as being committed by a weird Dracula, another refutes that and says it was obviously a weird feminist. If they were making a point in the dialogue I missed it, but I doubt it also.

flying headShe is immune to bullets it seems but the strangest crossing of lore was the Queen appearing as a floating head. I wondered whether this was an attempt to link the Queen with the Malaysian vampire myth of the penanggalan. Remember that Malaysia and Indonesia have a land border. Indonesia does have similar head only vampire legends and so it could be one of those that was being referenced.

The film has two major strikes against it, beyond the story I just described. The first is the acting, which is sub-porn. Now, to be fair, for some of the actors English will not have been the first language but there isn’t a single good performance. Everyone sucks equally.

seductive!The other issue is the pacing. From five minutes of Linda and Bob dancing, to other dance moments, to model shoots and even (supposedly seductive) pool games. The director seemed obsessed with slowing the pace of the film down for no good reason. One feels these scenes, in the main, were meant to be sexploitative, but the film failed on that score also – the European filmmakers were doing a much better job at titillation decades before.

Not a great movie, but with enough weirdness to warrant taking at least a quick look if you know what you are getting yourself into. 1.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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