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.

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