Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Bisikan Arwah (1988)

... aka: Whispering Soul
... aka: Whisper of the Dead
... aka: Whispers of the Spirit

Directed by:
"Yopi" (Jopi) Burnama

Enticed by the unusual scales on a huge snake he spots slithering around late at night, Iwan (Yoseph Hungan) goes after it with a hoe. The snake quickly burrows underground. Iwan starts digging, falls into a deep hole and ends up in a huge cave, where the talking snake possesses him by shooting green lasers into his eyeballs. Upon climbing out, Iwan starts to change. Puss runs out of his legs, his arms swell with veins and he finally transforms into an upright-walking snake monster with an extra-long forked tongue, fangs and claws. And, it also knows some pretty fancy kung fu moves! Monster Iwan promptly goes to a house and attacks a couple making out on a couch. The snake-monster shoots his tongue out at the man, wraps it around his neck, pulls him closer and then claws him to death, while the girl - Eka (Putri Salbiah) - manages to escape. It turns out this choice in victims is not a coincidental one.

The giant snake is inhabited by the vengeful spirit of a guy named Parta, who is played by then-popular Malaysian comedian Mr. Os aka Muhammad Yusuf (no relation to the Nigerian terrorist). Back in his human days, Parta was madly in love with Eka but she rejected him for being ugly, awkward, poor, unsuccessful and, well, just plain annoying. In order to get a leg up on his competition, Parta called forth a Snake Queen and had her use her powers to make him more desirable / wealthy. She then put him through a ceremony that involved eating a handful of maggots and then having sex with her while she transformed into a snake and then slapped him around on the face with her forked tongue!

Naturally, there's also a catch because nothing is ever truly free: He must now remain loyal to the Snake Queen and isn't allowed to marry or have relations with any other women. However, Parta decided to break the pact and make a go for hot pants Eka, who's suddenly more than willing to accept his engagement and engage in other adult activities with him now that he has money. When the two attempted to consummate their relationship, the curse was unleashed and Parta transformed into a monster. Villagers then put him out of his misery by beating him to death with bamboo poles and burying him in a shallow grave in a field.

Now that Parta is able to control Iwan, he keeps sending him out at night to stalk and terrorize Eka. He's especially interested in cock-blocking her and, seeing how she appears to be sleeping with half the guys in the village, that keeps him pretty damn busy. The monster catches up with her car by running on foot (!) and then kills her father after a kung fu fight that ends with the dad getting crushed against a tree. Eka seeks help from a shaman (Piet Burnama) but it doesn't do any good. Sensing she's a lost cause and never going to accept him as is, Parta finally gives up and decides to kill her by ramming his tongue down her throat and ripping out her heart.

Iwan's wife Mira (Nina Karina) wants answers as to what is wrong with her husband, especially after she finds his clothing at a murder site and has a nightmare about him transforming into the monster mid-sex. Even worse, Mira's father, Suparja (Rachmat Hidayat) has become ill and it may be because of a black magic spell. He's saved by a black-clad warlock named Mbab Rejo (Hussein Abu Hassan), who already proved his powers in an earlier scene where he made a guy's stomach explode. Mira attends a Satanic black mass ceremony at Rejo's lair, where she strips off her top and he transforms into her husband in order to try to rape her. Thankfully, her real husband shows up just in time to throw the Satanist off a cliff onto some rocks.

Meanwhile, the monster butchers some villagers who pick a fight with him. He throws them into trees, slashes them, impales a guy with a pole, cracks a neck with his bare hands, gouges out eyeballs, thrusts his hands inside a guy's stomach and pulls out his guts and more. When he isn't doing that, he's doing, a-hem, some other interesting things, like sneaking into a sleeping girl's bedroom, shooting her with lasers, sticking its tongue in her mouth and somehow managing to give her an orgasm (!?!) in the process. The leader of the village (Joes Terpase) organizes a torch-carrying mob to go after the creature and the good shaman eventually shows up to help cause none of this can possibly be taken care of without divine intervention.

If you're not a stickler for continuity (like Iwan's miraculous ability to be fighting as a monster in one location, save his wife as a human in another location, then be back to fighting as a monster in the first location just seconds later), or a plot that actually makes sense (what in the hell even happened to the giant cave-dwelling snake in the first scene?), then this delivers plenty of bizarre moments and lots of cheap gore and fun special effects. As for my rating, well, this is just one of those films that basically defies traditional rating. It's certainly terrible in some regards, but so random, wacky and weird that the technical aspects hardly even matter. Reportedly, it was actually banned is parts of Asia due to what was perceived as anti-Muslim content!

Unlike most other Indonesian directors from this same time, Burnama received quite a bit of exposure here in the states during the video era. His Rambo knock-off The Intruder (1986) starring Barry Prima became a bad movie favorite, while his female judo melodrama Perempuan Bergairah (1982) was released in both a straight English-dubbed version as The Fighters and as a comically-re-dubbed (by Troma) version titled Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters, which also became something of a cult classic. Burmana's WWII drama WAR VICTIMS (1983) and his female-led action flick Tiga Gadis Pilihan / Wild Angels (1989) were dubbed and released here, too.

While that may not seem like much, it's rather significant considering many Indonesian directors made far more films that Burnama did yet even fewer of their films (if any) ever received legit American distribution. However, none of Burnama's genre films, including 1988's Manusia Penunggu Jenazah / "The Man Who Sits with the Dead" and 1993's Godaan Perempuan Halus / "The Temptation of a Fine Woman"), were ever officially released here.

Though never officially released in America, this is available on DVD-R with English subtitles through Asian Cult Cinema, though their source print appears to have been taken from a subpar quality VCD release.

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