(1988) dir. H. Tjut Djalil
After watching the sanitary Twilight (2008), I felt like I needed to cleanse my palate with some good old trash cinema. As I’ve mentioned before, the Castro Theatre has a series of films that they call Midnites for Maniacs, which is curated by local Jesse Hawthorne Ficks and leans toward films from the 1980’s, pre-digital FX and lost “treasures” of camp and horror. When I’d read about the feature showing of Lady Terminator, with which I only had the vaguest of familiarity, I knew I’d have to queue it up, since I wasn’t too likely to make it to the midnight showing there.
It’s probably more bizarre than he even plays out in his promo description.
It is an Indonesian film, apparently one of many Indonesian horror/exploitation films made in a brief heydey in Indonesian cinema that ran roughly from the 1970’s to the 1980’s. The company that released the film on DVD provided an informative documentary on the disc, so this is where my information comes from. Starring some Causasian actors (who according to IMDb never made another film), the film is populated with many Indonesian actors as well. It doesn’t really situate itself in Indonesia in the narrative, so it’s just kind of a guess where all this is taking place and why there are so many Polynesian-looking faces in the film.
What is interesting is that it’s a mixture of traditional mythology and 1980’s cheap special effects, guns, and a straight-up female twist on The Terminator (1984), a good 15 years before the American series gave us a female “terminator”. There is the South Sea Queen, a succubus-like character, who lives at the bottom of the sea who cannot be sexually satisfied, but is voracious. And when she terminates the sex act, an eel comes out of her vagina and bites off her lovers’ penises. When she is tricked by one lover, who captures the eel and turns it into a dagger of sorts, she curses his family and leads us to the present day.
In the present day, we have the Caucasian anthropologist (“I’m not a woman, I’m an anthropologist”), who scuba dives to discover the legend of the South Sea Queen, only to become her eel-in-the-vagina terminator slave, who seeks out the progeny of the aforementioned lover, to exact revenge. While at first she runs around naked, finding men and snatching their penises, she eventually grabs a machine gun and a leather outfit and goes all Arnold Schwarzenegger on the whole world, shooting and shooting and killing everyone. She’s also indestructible, but not because she’s a robot, but because she’s some reincarnated evil goddess.
The film is hilariously bad, with laugh-out-loud dialogue and camp up the yin-yang. It’s a terrible movie indeed, but a pretty damn entertaining terrible movie. It’s little wonder than none of these people ever went on to other films, though whatever happened to them, one has to be curious. And while the documentary on Indonesian cinema was intriguing (it seems there are many more films out there like this), one has to expect that they are all of the catalogue of camp and comedy, the kind of films that are fun to laugh at but aren’t necessarily so rewarding. Still, my kudos to Jesse Hawthorne Ficks. He’s got a good eye for the lost effluvia of 1980’s cinema.