Thursday, January 23, 2020

Lukisan Berlumur Darah (1988)

... aka: Bloodstained Painting
... aka: Painting Smeared in Blood

Directed by:
Torro Margens

A pair of robbers armed with machetes break into a wealthy couple's home late at night. While fleecing the place, one accidentally knocks over a flower pot and wakes up the husband. When he goes to investigate, he's smashed over the head with a vase, beaten up and stabbed to death. All of the commotion then gets the wife, Diarsi (Yurike Prastica), and servant Yunan (Piet Pagau) involved in the struggle. Yunan gets slashed and beaten, though not killed, while she's beaten and dragged off to the bedroom by one of the intruders, who then attempts to rape her. But Diarsi manages to get the upper hand, kills him, then returns to the living room and stabs the other in the back multiple times until he's also dead. Instead of calling the police, Diarsi demands that Yunan help her bury all of the bodies in the front yard under a tree.

Many years pass and the house has just been purchased by science teacher Agus (Dharma Harun) and his wife Hanna (Tiara Jacquelina), who've recently relocated to Indonesia from Malaysia. Though the place has clearly been abandoned for quite some time and is covered in dust, curiously, many of the belongings from the previous inhabitants still remain. Included among those is a painting of Diarsi that was slashed along the neckline by one of the robber's bloody machetes. But what exactly happened to Diarsi and her servant?

Freaky things start happening right away. An older man keeps lurking around and dozens of locals always seem to be congregating outside the home. Hanna tries to restore the old painting and becomes obsessed with it and, after a landscaping crew unearths the skeletons in the yard, one of them shoots green lasers into Hanna's eyes. The tree where the bodies were buried suddenly becomes petrified and is unable to be chopped up until a cleric comes and prays over it. Hanna then starts having visions of the tree and painting bleeding, occasionally becomes hysterical and inconsolable and has some odd connection to the tree out front as an attempt to burn it results in her waking up screaming because her flesh feels like it's burning. And this is just the beginning of their ordeal.

Agus has a five-minute-long nightmare basically recapping the previous crime in the house before he's pulled underground by one of the corpses. Hanna starts speaking in a deeper voice, becomes more sexually aggressive, refuses to let her husband remove the painting from the home and has a vision of one of the robbers emerging from a bloodbath. Another skeleton is uncovered hidden under the floorboards in the bathroom, which prompts another nightmare where Hanna can see what became of Diarsi and Yunan after they hid the bodies. The servant used the incident to blackmail the wealthy Diarsi into marrying him. Unhappy with the union, Diarsi threatened to go to the cops so Yunan stabbed her to death, hid the body and left the home. Now that Hanna is in on the secret, the vengeful Diarsi uses the opportunity to completely possess her. She seduces and then murders several men before religious reinforcements are called in.

From a technical standpoint, this is actually somewhat better made / edited, more coherent and a little less hokey than a lot of other Indonesian horror films from this same time. However, it also hits that bland area of being both completely unoriginal and too tame / talky to be memorable. Saving it from the scrap pile are the interesting way nightmares are used as a platform to insert characters into flashbacks and let them be active participants in them and the action finally picking up during the last 15 minutes, especially after Diarsi's spirit gets separated from Hanna's body. The leading lady (eventually an acclaimed and award-winning actress in Malaysia after appearing in this and DEMON MONKEY in Indonesia) gets to shriek and passes out a lot, looks like she's having fun playing the possessed part of her role and is slapped around no less than four different times by her otherwise nice guy hubby. Prastika, who has been in around 20 horror films since 1987, is also pretty good in her small role. The cast also includes Yoseph Hungan as one of the robbers and sometimes director Abdi Wiyono.

This was adapted from a 1982 novel of the same name by the prolific Abdullah Harahap. Director Margens appears to have been a fan as he also adapted Cinta Berdarah (1989, "Bloody Love") and Sepasang Mata Maut (1990; "A Pair of Deadly Eyes") from the same author. There were a number of other genre films adapted from Harahap's work, including Bisikan Arwah (1988; "Whispering Soul") and Manusia Penunggu Jenazah (1988; "The Man Who Sits with the Dead") from director Jopi Burnama and the earlier Dikejar Dosa (1974; "Chased by Sins"), directed by Lukman Hakim Nain, and Bungalow Di Lereng Bukit (1976; "Bungalow on the Cliff") directed by Turino Djunaidy.

A restored cut of the film (clearly not what I viewed!) played at Asian Film Archive's "State of Motion: A Fear of Monsters" festival in Singapore in 2019. It has also been shown numerous times on the Indonesian Flik streaming channel, though there's never been a U.S. release, nor any English subtitles for that matter.

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