Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pemburu Mayat (1972)

... aka: Corpse Hunter

Directed by:
Kurnaen Suhardiman

During a thunderstorm, a man buries a sheet-wrapped corpse, trolls a graveyard, watches a woman strip down to her bra and then sneaks inside her apartment and stabs her to death. The victim worked as a dancer at a nightclub and the cops are immediately on the case. Police Chief Kardi (Alam Surawidjaja) puts young Inspector Hanowan Dinas and female Inspector Zumani on the case. Dinas goes to interview the victim's coworkers and finds several shady suspects among them, including the portly owner and the angry boyfriend of the deceased. There's also someone suspicious who works at the nearby morgue: a constantly-scowling groundskeeper. An autopsy reveals that the victim was raped after she was killed. Since other corpses have recently been dug up in a cemetery and likewise sexually violated, the cops have a necrophiliac serial killer on their hands. As is usually the case, the culprit may or may not be the most obvious character.

The busy Susi (Nenny Triana) not only works days in an office but is also the hostess at the club at night. Her colleague Dano is scrawny, awkward and has a huge crush on her. Since he may also be the killer, that puts her in danger. At home, Dano is saddled with a smothering, whiny, emasculating mommy who helps him button up his own shirt, puts a napkin on him like a bib before dinner and even attempts to hand feed him. When he runs off, mother goes into his bedroom and jealously rips up his collection of nudie posters. Dano observes the goings-on outside the local morgue, which someone has already broken into once to rape a corpse. He then joins a funeral procession and asks questions about the deceased. Sure, this makes him look suspicious, but does it also make him the necro killer?

Concerned citizens start patrolling the graveyard on their own at night to keep the corpses from being dug up. The killer still manages to steal a body and drag it through the woods to an abandoned building. A street vendor who just happens to be right outside counting money hears noises, peeps in through a keyhole, sees the killer taking the death shroud off the body and then reports it to the police. Chief Kardi then comes up with a plan. He orders all of the policewomen on the force to line up and be evaluated to find the perfect decoy to help ensnare the killer.

In probably one of the most hilariously sexist scenes ever, the Chief examines the female police officer's bodies and passes on the ones with pooches, the ones who are too old and the ones who aren't that pretty as the camera goes up and down their bodies and then stops on the area that explains why they're being rejected. He finally settles on plain tomboy Ayta Mariarti (Titiek Puspa, who is apparently a famous Indonesian singer) because the body is at least good and she has potential. With help from Inspector Zumani, Ayta Mariarti cleans up very well with a sexy dress, makeup and big fake eyelashes. Then she's taught how to flirt, coached how to swivel her hips while she's walking (!) to entice the killer and given karate lessons.

Meanwhile, Susi is leaving karate practice at night when Dano approaches her. He tries to touch her ass and then makes a pass but she kindly rejects him. When her boyfriend sees them walking together, he responds by slapping her in the face. Later that night, the killer sneaks in through Susi's bedroom window with a knife but she's able to use her martial arts skills to toss him out the window. But will the psycho come after her again, or will he take the shined-up decoy bait and thus fall into the police's trap?

This is very similar to those police procedural gialli that were all the rage in Europe in the early 70s. Only this is cheaper and far less exploitative. The copy I watched (a VHS distributed by Citra Video) has very little violence, very little tasteless content, no gore, no nudity and all of the necro content is restrained and off-screen. There's a lot of humor but the mystery components are nothing you haven't seen 100 times before, with silly red herrings, constant just-the-legs-walking-around and just-show-them-from-behind shots to conceal the killer's identity and a few cheat scenes to try to throw you off track. The minute the killer is revealed the film ends on a freeze frame.

Surprisingly, many of the comedic elements actually are amusing and, while this is low budget, it's not completely horribly made. However, it is mediocre and forgettable. The only available print is in poor condition and it's not in English, so I doubt many are gonna want to dig this one back up again. And you won't be missing out on anything if you don't.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sadismo - Aberrações Sexuais (1983)

... aka: Sadismo
... aka: Sadism - Sexual Aberrations

Directed by:
Fauzi Mansur

Joanna (Ana Maria Kreisler) goes out to a nightclub and stumbles upon her husband kissing another woman. He then decides to rub salt in the wound by turning around and dancing with his mistress and grabbing her ass right in front of her. Joanna whips out a gun, shoots him in the chest, panics, runs out into the street and is struck down by a car. Five months later (your guess is as good as mine how she somehow managed to avoid going to prison), she keeps waking up in bed screaming and drenched in sweat from her nightmares. Because of the accident, Joanna is confined to a wheelchair. She's demanding of her live-in helper / assistant Martinha (Cristina Keller) but spends most of her time alone flipping through sleazy tabloid newspapers. Since her reading materials are almost always negative, sensationalist and / or horrific, and involve things like killers, rapists and sadists, her sexual fantasies start reflecting that.

While bathing herself, Joanna makes use of a wash cloth (which may have been a more erotic scene had she not first wiped her armpits with it) and a scrub brush while imagining herself in a bubble bath with a guy who makes a bar of soap disappear. I'll let you use your imagination with that one. She envisions herself and Martinha trapped in a porno shop with three rapists who terrorize them with dildos and an inflatable doll. A man wearing a wig and a creepy mask then shows up to take her to a home where she watches a man and woman have sex wearing animal and Frankenstein masks while some annoying kaleidoscopic effect is added.

After reading about a cannibal killer, Joanna then has a fantasy about a man having sex with a woman, which takes an ugly turn afterward when he bites off her vulva (!) and then spits it out on her stomach. He then carries her to the kitchen, cuts off her breast, throws it in a skillet, cooks it and eats it (!!) Next, she envisions other people having sex and of her strung up in a net being hoisted up and lowered over and over again. Someone stalks outside her home and the same man may be the person who keeps calling her on the phone and threatening her. Joanna eventually is up and walking again. She meets an injured homeless man named Mano Juan (Arthur Roveder) in the park and decides to take him home and nurse him back to health over the course of a few months. I'm sure you can imagine what all that entails.

Once Mano Juan is functioning again, Joanna learns he's a potentially dangerous criminal or perhaps one of the Chilean guerrillas she keeps reading about in the papers. Pretty soon, the police are swarming her house and then dragging him away. She's alone yet again but he shows up out of the blue at her doorstep 6 months later. The police return just in time for a bloody shootout. A recurring character in her dreams is an older man who turns out to be Dr. Gerson (Sérgio Hingst), her psychiatrist. Concerned about Joanna's mental state, Martinha and her boyfriend go to him for help. This is all set up to where only some of it may actually be happening, none of it is actually happening or it's a combination of the two.

This is basically a horny version of Repulsion, except with the frigid young virgin swapped out for a repressed middle-aged nympho. There's also a dash of bored housewife Belle de Jour fantasy that informs the ending. Though it plods along at times, it's a bit more interesting than your standard issue soft erotica. It's also a lot more graphic. As was customary in Brazilian cinema at the time, when hardcore porn almost entirely took over their film industry, even their soft-core films went beyond most other countries soft-core films. Brazilian film actors, even the vets who had begun their careers in legitimate films, either had to participate in the newer graphic sex films or they had to find another line of work. The lead here, for instance, is a mature actress who clearly has some experience under her belt and not some nubile young sex star. She takes her role seriously and performs like any other legitimate actress would... only she's also required to be naked and simulating sex much of the time.

Conceptually, this has a very interesting central idea: How the consistent intake of negative news affects one with an already-fragile mental state who spends most of their time closed off from the rest of the world. Of course there's so much sex crammed in that this idea isn't fully fleshed out, but at least some effort was put into trying to make this more than it had to be. What hurts this most in its current state is that all that's currently available is a shoddy VHS copy. A number of the scenes were shot in hazy soft focus in low lighting, which simply doesn't translate over well to video as the scenes end up looking too dark and blurry / out of focus. A cleaned-up print may merit another 1/2 star but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a remastered DVD version of something like this either.

Director Mansur started out making mainstream comedies in the late 60s, switched to soft-core just a few years later and, by the mid 80s, was making hardcore porn films usually using the alias "Victor Triunfo." He's best known for a pair of gory horror films - SATANIC ATTRACTION (1989) and RITUAL OF DEATH (1990) - which, surprisingly, were English dubbed and received international home video distribution. They were also his last two films as director. None of his sex films, including this one, received a U.S. release.

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