Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Bayi ajaib (1982)

... aka: Baby Magic
... aka: Baby Wonder
... aka: Magic Baby, The
... aka: Miracle Baby

Directed by:
Tindra Rengat

Rumors of gold at the foot of a waterfall lead rivals Kosim (Muni Cader) and Dorman (W.D. Mochtar) to fish through the waters. The already-wealthy Kosim is the first to strike, finding a handful of gold nuggets. Angry, Dorman returns home where he retrieves a crinkly old map that will supposedly lead to the remains of his Portuguese ancestor Alberto Dominique. Dorman follows the map to the X, starts digging and uncovers Alberto's buried tombstone. He then reconstructs the grave to appease the spirit in hopes that it will bring him good fortune. Soon after, Kosim's very pregnant wife Sumi (Rina Hasyim) is walking through the woods after a visit with backwoods female shaman Casima (Wolly Sutinah). After being scared by a bat hanging in a tree and a random Dalmatian (!) she falls on top of Alberto's grave. It starts smoking, the ground gives way and Sumi falls into an underground, cobweb-filled cavern. Unable to climb back out, she starts exploring around and finds herself in a tomb. Torches light themselves, crystals start glowing green and red and then a stone lid levitates off a coffin. Alberto's skeleton comes walking out, goes up to Sumi, places its hands over her stomach, rubs around and then does a ballet-style leap off-screen!

When his wife doesn't return from her appointment, Kosim organizes a search party in the middle of a storm but they find nothing. That's because Sumi has already levitated out of the cave and walked back home in a trance. By the time Kosim finds her, she's in hysterics and her pregnancy has reversed. I'm not meaning it's reversed as in she's no longer pregnant, but that her actual pregnant belly is now on her back! Casima and an elderly nursemaid manage to push the belly back around to the front just in time for her to give birth. The baby comes out looking nothing at all like a baby, but instead some lump of bloody, pulsating flesh. The nurse tries to dispose of it outside, but there's a lunar eclipse, the baby sheds the cocoon and then jumps up and bites the woman's throat. Kosim finds the nurse's body and follows a trail of blood from his home through the woods where he finds his now normal-looking baby on top of Alberto's grave.

We then jump ahead a number of years. Kosim and Sumi have raised the boy, Dede, normally but the child turns out to be anything but. Using his supernatural abilities, Dede causes havoc and injuries to street performers just for a laugh. During a birthday circumcision ceremony (!!) he dulls the scalpel so the procedure cannot be performed. He makes a man wreck his motorcycle then causes a neighborhood bully to lose a (literal) pissing contest before having a carriage run over him. When a man shows up to warn Kosim of what his son truly is, the boy uses lightning to impale him with a falling tree limb and wind to create a whirlpool to drown him. Religious music causes the boy to freak out and he slaps his dad in the face and runs off after he attempts to drag him into a temple. Sometimes Dede's head detaches and sometimes he takes on the ugly appearance of the bald-domed Alberto with a white beard, bushy eyebrows and massive forehead.

As all of the evil kid shit is going down, Kosim is using his wealth to try to bribe his way into a position as village leader. Dorman (yeah, he's still around) also wants to be the village leader. That briefly reignites their bitter rivalry, but it's all for naught as another guy ends up winning. After relating a flashback showing Alberto being executed after ordering a quartering by horses, Casima gets held down by zombie hands that emerge from the ground while Dede's detached head chews her throat out. That's enough to finally push Kosim over the edge. Right as he attempts to bash the little brat's head in with a rock, a village elder (Husin Lubis) shows up with an alternate solution: An exorcism and some prayer. The happy (?) ending finds little Dede at another birthday celebration, where he's cheerful and all laughs as his foreskin is sliced off by the goofy guy with the scalpel (Bokir), who then rubs a glob of Vaseline on his wiener (!!!)

If any of the plot points sound familiar, that's because this is blatant rip-off of THE OMEN (1976) right down to the kid ominously riding around on a bicycle and trying to kill his mom when she becomes pregnant with a second child. It even poorly attempts to duplicate a number of the famous Omen series death scenes. Bits are also copied from IT'S ALIVE (1974), the first Omen sequel (including the presence of a raven during one of the murders), the 1981 slasher flick The Burning (the entire Rick Wakeman score has been pilfered) and God knows what else. But none of that means this isn't a lot of fun in its own right! The crazy moments are almost nonstop and it's fast-paced, tasteless, crude, surprising, genuinely bizarre and has enough uniquely Indonesian elements to at least somewhat distinguish it from all of the movies it's "borrowing" from. So, even though this is a shameless, technically inept rip-off at the end of the day, the entertainment value is still through the roof.

Unfortunately, this title has never been available in English but it's still worth watching for bad / weird movie aficionados and isn't difficult at all to follow even if you can't understand the dialogue. The original running time is almost always listed as 94 minutes but I was only able to find two different versions: one running 72 minutes and the other just 67 minutes. Seeing how the editing is absolutely terrible throughout both of the available versions, I'd say whoever distributed this on VHS / VCD are responsible for hacking the original film down. I'd hate to think the 72 minute cut is the full version!

Though completely unknown here in America, this is a somewhat popular cult item in Indonesia and was actually remade just this year (as Bayi Gaib) by prolific director Rizal Mantovani. A now 71-year-old Hasyim even returned to play a supporting role in it.


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