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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Wanita Jelmaan (1990)

... aka: Wanita Jelmaan (Nyupang)
... aka: Woman's Incarnation
... aka: Woman's Transformation (Nyupang)

Directed by:
Sofyan Sharna

When a man sporting the most pronounced unibrow ever goes to take shower, his lover is accosted in bed by a snake that transforms into a woman who then kills her by levitating a vase and smashing it into her face. When the man exits the bathroom, he gets into a karate fight with the snake-woman, who does a few flips and lands a few hits before levitating something and smashing it into his face, causing a bloody mess. And then the man's friend shows up and gets into a karate fight with the snake-woman. He manages to dodge the levitating items thrown at him and forces her to jump out of the window after brandishing a dagger. She then breathes fire and runs off into the woods. All of that takes place in rapid succession over the span of 2 minutes 30 seconds before the credits have even had a chance to roll and my head is already spinning. Who? How? Whaaaat's going on? And what have I gotten myself into now?






We then get better acquainted with the snake-woman and her little snake-daughter. The daughter doesn't understand why they have to live in a cave isolated from the rest of society and why she can't play with the other kids. Snake-mother explains that humans are assholes and humans are dangerous and she's just too young to deal with them right now. Still intrigued, the girl sneaks around behind mum's back, observing humans and their odd behavior. She watches children flying paper airplanes, playing video games, taking karate classes, dancing and singing. And she peeps into the windows of a neighboring family's home to watch the father interact with his son and a mother reading to her daughter. She finds some human behavior amusing, especially the dancing, but you will too once you see it. After she's almost caught by a couple of guys she's spying on, angry snake-mother stresses the importance of always exercising caution when interacting with humans.






Jumping ahead a number of years, snake-girl is now an attractive teenage snake-woman named Sandra (Sally Marcelina). Mother snake (Kiki Amelia) is still around and she's even hoping to hook her daughter up with a suitable human mate. The two go to a nightclub where the popular and wealthy Edwin (Sonny Dewantara) catches their eye. Unfortunately he's already dating a beauty named Rani (Ranieta Manopo), who's become a little too spoiled and accustomed to being showered with expensive gifts and jewelry. But just how will she react when she finds out Mr. Moneybags is about to lose everything? Well, pretty much as expected as the next time we see her she's in bed with one of his friends, leaving Edwin alone and scrambling for cash. That leads him to a shady area of the city to pawn some of his few remaining belongings, which leads to him getting framed for stealing a purse, which leads to him fighting some goons, which leads to him falling off a bridge and bouncing off of a car, which leads him to meeting Sandra.






Sandra strikes a deal with Edwin. She tells him what she is and what she wants, which involves him being a faithful lover and also seems to involve him helping to wipe out some thugs at the mother's behest (though I may be mistaken since I don't speak Indonesian). For payback, she has a neat little trick where she sheds scales that turn into gold coins during sex. After just a few romps, Edwin's got enough money to get his house back plus buy a new car. However, once back on stable financial ground, he also finds himself disgusted by what Sandra really is and just as disgusted at himself for whoring himself out to a snake. He starts rejecting Sandra's sexual advances, rekindles things with Rani and, you know the old saying hell hath no fury like a snake scorned or, um, a woman in the grass, or, ehhhh, yeah, well...






Also thrown into the mix is Leila (Anna Shirley), the teen daughter of a karate instructor who's skilled at fighting from years of training with her father. I couldn't tell whether Leila was Edwin's sister, a childhood friend or if she just had a stalker-level crush on him, but I guess it doesn't even really matter. The point is she really wants to be involved in his life. And when she starts prying a little too much into Edwin's affairs, snake-mother casts a spell to bring forth a red-painted minion / demon decked out in a red sweatsuit to go after her. While driving, Leila has visions of the demon's laughing disembodied head on fire, which is so distracting it makes her run over a transvestite prostitute (!?) crossing the street. And that's not even half as weird as scenes of Edwin rolling around in bed romantically kissing a snake.






While not nearly as graphic or as out there as some of the more extreme Asian horror films, this was still more than kooky enough for my personal tastes. Filled with abominably-edited fight scenes, this also features lots of cheap jump cuts and time lapse effects, some really corny make-ups and plenty of miscellaneous bizarre stuff to sink your fangs into. The finale is also pretty lively, with the snake-woman throwing someone over a balcony and then torching them Godzilla-style, a fireball duel, someone getting crushed in a tree and, basically, what amounts to five of the characters beating the pulp outta one another.

I'm not entirely sure if I saw an edited version or not, but it appears that I did. The cut I watched ran 70 minutes but the running time is listed as 81 on both major Indonesian film databases. The violence and bloody bits (including a scene where a snake bites a guy on the crotch) appear intact but this abruptly cuts away during every single one of the love scenes. The VCD cover art features some old witch that isn't even in the film.

★★1/2
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