Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dorimu hanta Remu II: Seibishinjo Gakuen no Yomu (1986)

... aka: Dream Hunter Rem II
... aka: Dream Hunter Rem II: Dream Demon at Seibishinjo High School 
... aka: Dream Hunter Rem II: Seibishinjo Gakuen no Yomu

Directed by:
Seiji Okuda

This is a follow-up to the previous year's DREAM HUNTER REM, which began as a 20-some-odd-minute OVA horror with more graphic hentai scenes before having the more explicit shots removed and a second tale added to the works (this release was known as "Special Version") to push to run time up. Instead of containing two tales, this follow-up is just one story that runs 58 minutes.

Young Yumi is fast asleep when her mirror starts glowing and shooting off kaleidoscopic light. A female voice calls to her; encouraging her to come over. While still asleep, Yumi enters into her mirror. She finds herself on a giant chess board with giant chess pieces, then makes her way to a glowing door and enters. Now in a large clock tower with a long spiral staircase to the top, she ascends the stairs. An old, ugly, red-eyed female demon sitting atop a big, clawed monster with a mouth full of razor teeth awaits her at the top and she ends up being decapitated. Thus far, Yumi is the third schoolgirl killed at Seibishinjo High; an all-girls boarding school. Because the school is trying to cover the mutilation killings up, the police have hit a dead end and have no other alternative than to write the deaths off as suicides and something supernatural is clearly at play, Detective Sakaki calls teenager paranormal detective Rem Ayanokōji to help solve the case. Rem has the ability to enter into others' dream though she herself hasn't been able to have her own dreams since she was young. Part of her obsession with helping others comes from her desire to one day be able to dream again herself.

Because she's the same age as the three schoolgirl victims (which puts scenes of her being graphically tentacle-raped and shooting lasers out of her vag in the original into an even more tasteless light, no?), Rem slaps on a pair of glasses and decides to go undercover at the school as a student. She brings along her loyal sidekicks Alpha (cat) and Beta (dog) to assist her. The amazingly shallow and bizarre school principal is obsessed with beauty and thinks that the only way a girl can get the upper hand on a man is through her looks. That perhaps makes her even less qualified to be in charge of anyone else's education than Betsy DeVos. The principal claims that both her and the school's motto is "Ugliness is the devil!" Because no pets are allowed in the dorms, she confiscates Alpha and Beta, puts them in a cage, locks them in a room and informs them that "Ugly things must be erased from this world!"

Because they're suspicious of her presence at the school, Rem becomes the target of a girl gang called The Black Roses led by queen bee Saeko and becomes even more of a target when she shows Saeko up on the tennis court. Rem does manage to make a friend in the sweet Yoko, who's a shy loner who mostly sits in her room reading books and listening to music. The bullies have been teasing Yoko for being flat-chested but Rem assures her that having small boobs is A-OK cause she's got 'em too! Right after Yoko has her first period in the locker room shower ("I'm sure your breasts will start growing soon!"), the bullies attempt to scald them by cranking up the hot water in the shower. The Black Roses again try to attack Rem in the library but she assures Saeko, "I know that you're not the killer. You're just a regular human, although you might be a little messed up in the mind." Ha!

Dark secrets about the school, staff and girls eventually come to light which involve torture, whipping with a rose vine lash and a corpse locked up behind a red door in the clock tower. There's death by being burned alive, a face melting to mush (and the eyeball popping right out), a cleaver to the face and a head getting crushed, plus a perverted male gym coach who spies on the girls in the shower, a schoolgirl zombie army, snake-like ghost monsters, a "spirit barrier" forcefield, the giant dragon creature getting bisected from the inside out, our heroine (who we actually learn something about this time) getting trapped in a giant hourglass and almost getting crushed between gears and the clock tower turning into a giant robot! Rem's monk protector Enkou returns from the previous Dr. Death Resurrected episode, there's a brief "intermission" to plug the upcoming third video, a bunch of direct references to Carrie thrown in and a melancholy ending. This is entertaining, quite funny at times and an improvement over the previous video.

This has been issued on VHS numerous times and is now included in several different Rem box sets. A soundtrack album and comic books were also released. This was followed by DREAM HUNTER REM III: HIDDEN DREAM - LEGEND OF THE HEADLESS WARRIOR (1987) and then the New Dream Hunter Rem series starting in 1990.

Golok Setan (1984)

... aka: Der herr der krokodile (Lord of the Crocodile)
... aka: Devil's Machete
... aka: Devil's Sword, The
... aka: Koral le justicier (Koral the Vigilante)
... aka: Le justicier contre la reine des crocodiles (The Vigilante Against the Queen of the Crocodiles)
... aka: Lord of the Crocodiles
... aka: Svaerdets dronning (Queen of the Sword)

Directed by:
Ratno Timoer

A small village worships or, more specifically, has no other choice but to worship, a cruel, insatiable and all-powerful nympho white crocodile demon queen (Gudhi Sintara) who lives in a palace underneath a nearby lake along with a slew of crocodile handmaidens, faithful male warriors and a wizard sidekick. The queen's sexual appetite is so huge that she's been ordering the village to sacrifice all of their strong, brave and handsome young men to her. After all, it sometimes takes at least seven at once to please her on her croc-themed silver chaise lounge. You could say that she's high maintenance. She also hates being disappointed. If she grows tired of her sex slaves, feel they're misbehaving or they fail to live up to her expectations, she simply does away with them by tossing them into a bamboo cage filled with hungry, crazed cannibals!

Since the village has recently been unable to keep up with the queen's demands, she resurrects the great warrior Banyujaga (Advent Bangun) from beyond. He goes to the village (riding in on a levitating boulder!) and demands a young man named Sanjaya (Yos Santo), who's right in the middle of wedding village leader Barata's (H.I.M. Damsyik) daughter, Pitaloka (Enny Christina), accompany him back to the queen's palace. When the villagers refuse to cooperate, Banyujaga punches, kicks, cracks bones and uses his twin swords to slash, slice, impale, chop, disembowel, dismember and decapitate. Interestingly, Pitaloka (who has a parasol weapon and knows martial arts) mostly fights him while her hopefully-husband-to-be is left to stand by and watch. During the fight, Pitaloka is injured and her father is killed after having his hand chopped off. But not all hope is lost...

Virtuous warrior Mandala (Barry Prima) rides in on his horse to help but Banyujaga is able to resurrect some alligator men from underground to distract him long enough to run off with Sanjaya, who's taken to the queen's kingdom. There, she hypnotizes him with her mesmeric eyes and has her way with him on a spinning bed surrounded by fire. Meanwhile, Mandala finds his teacher Abirama (Kandar Sinyo), whom he communicates with telepathically, seriously injured. Snake venom from a previous fight is making his legs turn black and rot. Mandala is able to stabilize him with a concoction made from exploding mushrooms (!) and then chops off both of his legs to keep the poison from spreading. Abirama reveals that he was attacked for refusing to give up the secrets of the Devil's Sword, which was made from a fallen meteor and possesses supernatural powers. Whoever has it in their possession could use it to end life as we know it. Mandala is given a map and sent on quest to locate it. He teams up with the persistent Pitaloka, who is determined to rescue her husband.

Banyujaga is not only beholden to the evil crocodile queen (whom she's taken as a lover), but he's also teamed up with three other evil, power-hungry warriors. There's the Red Snake King, who has a poison staff that can turn into a snake (or vice versa), an old, rotten-tooth witch (Rita Zahara) with a deadly whip and a bald-domed man (Kusno Sudjarwadi) who has a nifty hat that can explode or rip off heads. As they'd all like to possess the sword, the four soon turn on each other and battle it out. The snake and hat men aren't difficult for Banyujaga to defeat but the witch, who's called a "polluted bitch hound" and "dirty daughter of a whore," regenerates after being cut in two and keeps on going even after losing her head. Though she's forced to retreat, she promises to return to get revenge. That never happens.

Getting to the sword proves to be no easy task and starts with a (marvelously done!) raft ride across a foggy lake from a skeleton. Some floppy-headed alligator men attack and the sword itself is located inside a pink-lit cave filled with bats and a bunch of booby traps, including an acid lake, spikes that pop out of the floor and a room that shoots out spears. A one-eyed stone monster is the final challenge and considering it appears to be made out of paper it's easily defeated. Mandala and Pitaloka must then do battle with Banyujaga before descending into the queen's underground lair to do battle with her, her minions and a gold, blue-eyed flamethrower / laser crocodile icon.

Many viewers make mention of the low budget special effects, cheap-looking sets and wonky fight choreography and editing on display here. However, once you start descending down the Indonesian fantasy / horror rabbit hole a bit further you'll realize that all of the above get much, much worse than this. For an Indo production from this same time frame, Devil's Sword is more elaborate, better-made and appears to have a larger-than-usual budget. That's all relatively speaking, of course! Still, I have seen far cheaper and far more incompetent.

The action is extremely fast-paced and gruesome as this juggles all kinds of odd fantasy-adventure / horror / mystical ideas and leaps from one fx-fueled set piece to another... coherence be damned! Nearly every scene ends up turning into some kind of big fight. While some of these are almost passably choreographed, at other times they resort to speeding up the action, which of course looks ridiculous and comical. The plot is jam packed with assorted nonsense, some of which doesn't feel like it belongs at all. You never really know what you're going to get from one scene to the next, but the nonsensical nature of the plot eventually takes its toll. The final act suffers because of this, in part because you've grown accustomed to slapdash nature of the movie and in part because most of the better weird stuff has already occurred or is simply being repeated.

This was based on a comic by Man (pen name for Mansyur Daman) and is part of his Mandala serial. The ending seems to be a set-up for a sequel, though one was never made. Very prolific actor / director / writer / producer Timoer (real name: Ahmad Suratno) also directed the genre films Kuntilanak / "Female Ghost" (1974), Gondoruwo / "The Haunted House" (1981), Jin Galunggung / "Galunggung Genie" (1982), Rimba Panas / "Jungle Heat" (1988) and Pembalasan Setan Karang Bolong / "Revenge of the Karang Bolong Demon" (1989), plus acted in a handful, most notably some of the Sisworo Gautama Putra / Suzzanna collaborations. He'd won some major acting awards (including Best Actor at the Indonesian Film Festival) in the 70s and amassed over 150 credits during his 30 year career.

This is one of the best distributed Indonesian genre titles from this era. There were home video releases in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands and elsewhere and this was English-dubbed for release in the US and UK. A 2006 DVD from Mondo Macabro gave it even more exposure, boosting it to near the top of all Asian cult films.

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