Friday, May 6, 2022

Guntur Tengah Malam (1990)

... aka: Midnight Thunder

Directed by:
A. (Acok) Rachman

A dispute over an inheritance (money and a mansion) drives a wedge between Emma Gatot (Yenny Farida) and her stepson Rudi Sahyudi (Johan Saimima). Rudi and his teenage sister Ria ("Deasy Damasari" / Desy Ratnasari), who actually wants Emma to get her share despite Rudi's wishes and a court order giving them possession of it, end up getting everything while Emma is screwed over, has to move out and threatens to sue them. After several heated arguments, both siblings and Rudi's fiancée, Henny (Alba Fuad), are plagued by bad dreams, hallucinations and strange, ghostly occurrences. Henny has a nightmare-inside-of-a-nightmare where she's stalked in a lumber yard by a killer and then (in the film's best scene by far) locked inside a bathroom as the bath, sink and toilet start overflowing, water shoots out from between the shower tiles and the room quickly fills up with water. At the hospital where she works, Ria freaks out after she envisions a newborn baby is a Maraschino cherry-eyed mutant and then almost drowns after an invisible force levitates her and starts thrashing her around in the swimming pool. And Rudi has an encounter with a possessed wardrobe that knocks him to the floor with strong gusts of wind, pelts him with clothes and makes a photo of his late parents go up in flames. And that's just the start of it.

Blood miraculously appears on Rudi's forehead, which leads him to hallucinating pulling his entire face off. While watching her brother and his fiancée making out through a keyhole (?), Ria sees them as lumpy-faced ghouls. Henny, who's become reluctant to marry Rudi and move into the home due to the recent horrific developments there, is almost scalped by her hair dryer, pelted by floating figurines, levitated on the bed, scratched up, has her clothes shredded by an invisible force and is then left hung outside the window by her wrists.

When Henny is rushed off to the hospital, Ria and her boyfriend Johan get back from their date and head upstairs to mess around. Instead, he gets thrown out the window to his death while she's tossed around, rolled up and down the wall, menaced on a levitating bed and then dies after getting thrown into the ceiling fan. In a scene that directly rips off a similar scene from the previous year's A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5, Rudi's buddy Broto (Alfian) is attacked by the own motorcycle he happens to be riding, which sticks wires under his hands, legs and face.

As it transpires, Emma has teamed up with a gigolo / criminal low life named Leo, who has hooked her up with some kind of black magician who's creating the "haunting" and killing off those standing in Emma's way of getting her hands on the home. To counteract that, Rudi goes to shaman Mrs. Resko for help and there's a minor white vs. black magic duel between the two the involves pink lighting, spitting up blood, someone getting crushed under a car and lots of crazy editing. A couple of detectives get involved and there's a scene at a discotheque, lots of Vaseline-smeared POV shots prowling around the house and an attempt at a Carrie-like shock at the end. For some reason (probably because this would barely be 70 minutes otherwise), five minutes of recycled clips from the film we've just watched are re-run at the end.

While many of the supernatural and horror scenes are pretty fun here, this spends too much time with corny, narrated romantic interludes plus a bunch of coy "sexy" scenes. You may think throwing in some sex here and there may not be such a bad thing, but you haven't seen just how long, pointless and drawn out it can be here. Besides, we can't forget that this is an Indonesian production from the 80s and their soft-core is almost always really soft as in there's a lot of bare shoulders, under the covers rolling around and close-ups of kissing yet no nudity whatsoever. Hell, Fuad even spends five whole minutes nude during her big shower nightmare but wears flesh covered pasties and underwear and the filmmakers shoot it in such a way that they never really show anything. The ladies are frequently clad in bras, panties, nighties and bathing suits and the voluptuous Yenny Farida makes for one sexy stepmom in her collection of body-hugging mini-skirts.

There were several VCD releases for this one in Asia, though it's never been made available in English. At least a decent quality widescreen print is now available, which was likely taken from some HD TV broadcast.

Satan Place: A Soap Opera from Hell (1990)

Directed by:
Scott Aschbrenner
Alfred Ramirez

As far as I can tell, this ultra low budget, four part, shot-on-video effort (which resembles public access TV productions from this time, right down to the cheesy green screen fx) was self-distributed on VHS back in 1990 (the end credits copyright is 1988). The label who released it was Thunderhill Entertainment, who don't appear to have ever released anything else. That's most likely because this label was created by the filmmakers themselves for the sole purpose of distributing their own movie. Interestingly, there was also a 40 page, black-and-white comic book (!) based on the film that was released back in 1992 by a one-shot company called, you guessed it, Thunderhill Comics. It too doesn't appear to have ever released anything else. So at one point, someone out there was trying to make this thing happen. It just never did... and apparently it still hasn't! Even in the age when everyone's 80s and 90s era / camcorder-shot home movie is getting some kind of limited DVD release, no one's even bothered picking this thing up for distribution, nor have I seen any interviews with the directors, cast or crew to shed any light on this production. Satan Place (which is not the soap opera parody nor a mix of horror and soap opera like the the title alludes to) has basically been forgotten with time despite the fact it's assembled a bit more professionally than most other SOV films.

First up is "Disposable Love," which centers around gas station attendant Eddie Dayton (Warren Andrews). Eddie is a disgusting, obnoxious pig who belches, screams and curses in his annoying Joizy / New Yawk accent and calls his poor wife Doris (Nora Miller) things like "fat ass" and "lazy bitch" when he isn't propositioning other women at work. After returning home one evening, Eddie picks his nose, flicks a booger on the floor and torments his wife with whiny demands about dinner (he already had lamb chops for lunch) and beer (it's never cold enough). He then passes on going out dancing as he'd rather get drunk and watch midget wrestling. After Doris has a fantasy about killing Eddie and makes a comment about him drinking too much, he punches her in the face. She falls, hits her head and dies. Eddie then does what any loving husband would do in a similar situation: He chops up her body, cooks it and sends it down the garbage disposal. Now a free man, he celebrates by drinking, smoking cigars, not showering and watching porn.

Eddie's fun times don't last long as the progressively more decomposed ghost of his wife returns to settle the score. She tosses dinner at him, makes him cut himself shaving and makes him have visions of a blood bath, mangling his hand in the garbage disposal and eating globs of bloody intestines she pulls out of her own stomach. There's a twist at the end.

"Say Goodnight, Sophie" introduces us to yet another loud, obnoxious, overweight, beer-guzzling idiot. This one's a pathetic redneck named Johnnie Donnelly (Hollis Wood), who's upset that his pregnant girlfriend has left him for someone else. Gee, hard to imagine why. While out driving drunk late at night, Johnnie accidentally runs over an old man (Jeff Stogner) crossing the street. Turns out the victim is crazy and has a history of intentionally stepping out in front of cars, but that doesn't really matter. His luck's finally run out and he dies this time at the hospital.

After drowning his sorrows at a cocktail lounge, Johnnie manages to run over the same man a second time. He wraps the body up, drags it back to his apartment and sticks it in his bathtub, where it starts decomposing. After finding his cat eating the body he projectile vomits all over the place and then takes the corpse out into the woods and buries it. A pair of zombies (the old man has a female zombie companion apparently) come to get revenge. This and the first story are far too similar, feature predictable and bland supernatural revenge angles and extremely irritating "comic" overacting from the male stars. Neither is really worth a damn to be honest, though the first at least offers up some fun make-up fx.

Next up is "Too Much TV;" the clear highlight of this tape. A young woman (Lisa Hatter) is obsessed with a cable channel called "Too Much TV." Hosted by Dick Slasher (Mark Rackstraw), TMTV promises "non-stop, 24 hours a day" sex, violence and rock n' roll. The girl's nagging, Elvis-obsessed mother (Sonja Etzel) criticizes her for sitting in front of the boob tube all day, refusing to help her clean and for her disinterest in finding a boyfriend. The channel's mesmeric programming seems to have the ability to bleed over into reality. During a slasher parody called "Don't Go Into the Kitchen," a girl is slipped poison by the killer. At the same time, the mother starts choking on her tea. And then during the gay prison parody "Bathroom Bullies" (which uses suction cup sound effects for a shower room train), the girl fantasizes about stabbing her mother to death in the shower in a scene that attempts to emulate the exact angles and editing cuts of the famous scene from Psycho.

As the girl's obsession with TMTV and its programming grow, Dick starts speaking directly to her and encourages her to murder her mother, using clips from films like "Pretty Girl Floyd," "Nursing Home Revenge" and "Missouri Mop Massacre" to give her ideas. There's also a commercial for "disposable dildos." This segment has a clever premise, amusing performances (particularly from the Kitty Forman-like Etzel), a few laughs and is much more imaginative than the previous two segments.

Finally we get "Sally Satan," which (I think) is supposed to be about how horny guys are the dumbest creatures on the planet. Either that, or the guy in this particular tale is merely a moron. Sally (Stephanie Spencer), a character already briefly featured in all three of the previous stories, is getting ready for a hook up with Jonathan (Jme Mestel). When he arrives, there are all kinds of foreboding clues he should get the hell out of there: cobweb covered glasses, something hairy, bloody and scalp-like sitting in the microwave that's passing for dinner and newspaper clippings stuffed inside an old book proving her to be a former psychiatric patient who'd been indicted for murder. And yet he decides to stick around, anyway, cause, ya know, there's a piece of ass on the line.

Just dancing with Sally causes Jonathan's chest hair to burn off and some strange symbol to appear carved into his skin. She also bites him. Despite that, he allows her to lure him into her bedroom, slip a leather mask on his face, ball gag him and tie him up (?) And that works out about as well as you'd figure, with the morbid sex game somehow managing to call forth Satan.

If you don't mind mostly amateurish acting, low production values and the whole SOV aesthetic, this only runs 67 minutes and I've seen big budget genre anthologies that are less entertaining, so at least it has that much going for it.

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