Friday, June 17, 2022

Anita (1984)

... aka: Anita: Female Snake
... aka: Anita (Ular Betina)

Directed by:
"M. Syarifudin" (M. Sharieffudin A.)

Disapproving of plans for an arranged marriage, Juwita (Enny Beatrice) is chastised by her mother, Sofia (Ade Irawan), and then slapped in the face by her father, Thomas (Deddy Sutomo). As if that wasn't enough punishment already, she's then taken deep into the jungle on a remote island, tied to stakes in the ground and is left for dead (!) And then something even stranger happens. She's freed when lasers shoot the ropes holding her down and a huge python slithers between her legs. This particular snake has special powers and the ability to impregnate humans, which is exactly what happens when it gets busy (!) with a writhing Juwita. Afterward, Juwita goes a little crazy. Her guilt-stricken parents (the mother starts having nightmares about snakes attacking her in her garden) soon regret their decision and hire a posse of hunters, led by Hendra (Harry Capri), the man Juwita was to wed, to go find her and bring her back.

After Hendra locates a dirty and disheveled Juwita, a laser beam shoots out of the sun (?), speeds along her pregnancy, induces labor and she then gives birth to a huge egg. Once the egg cracks open, a bunch of slithering serpents emerge. A panicked Hendra starts frantically chopping them up with his machete (yes, real snakes are killed), is tripped up by one of them and accidentally stabs Juwita in the stomach. After Harry (Syarief Friant), one of Hendra's pissed off fellow hunters, engages him in a comically overlong fight, the men agree to keep what truly happened a secret. They bury Juwita in a shallow grave and then go on their way.

Unbeknownst to the hunters, one of the baby snakes managed to get away and it grows into a beautiful young woman named Anita (also played by Beatrice). Anita likes to swing from vines, bathe topless under waterfalls (which was blurred out on the version I viewed) and do hilarious erotic dances with snakes to generic elevator muzak. While performing one such dance, she passes out and wakes up in a cave surrounded by snake women decked out in snake-skin crop tops and miniskirts. All of the snake women can switch from human to snake form at will, as can Anita. The queen of the snake women (Poppy Soraya) is pleased with the new addition to their tribe, teaches her some snake fu moves and then shoots her with a laser and gives her a Medusa-head full of live snakes. I guess in snake woman world that's considered some kind of promotion.

A wildlife photographer (Advent Bangun) is canoeing around the island snapping photos when a pesky gator shows up, eats his guide and makes him wreck his boat. After stabbing it to death, he makes his way inland and is immediately ambushed by a half dozen snake warrior women, whom he defeats in a fight. One well-placed booby trap later and he's shirtless, sweaty and tied up in the cave, where snake ladies perform their patented seductive dance for him, which involves swaying their hips, slithering their arms, bowing before him and, uh, standing on his chest (?) Afterward, he has a fight with Anita and an errant laser shot hits the Queen and kills her. Now it's time for Anita to take charge and she wants the photographer to be her lover / assistant; a position he gladly accepts (might have something to do with him being shot with a green laser beam though).

Meanwhile, Juwita's father organizes an expedition to the island, which includes Hendra, Harry and five other dudes (including Dadang Iskandar and Yacob Essad from another Beatrice vehicle called ALLIGATOR QUEEN), who get picked off one by one. Several are killed by snakes, there's another alligator attack and, in an ironic death, Hendra gets impaled with a machete against the same tree Juwita died in front of. The survivors flee and make it back to their vehicle and to civilization. However, Anita (in snake form) has managed to hitch a ride on the bottom of their jeep. At around the same time, Lina (Linda Lolita Husein), who is either Juwita's kid sister or a niece, shows up at the house for a visit. Her first night there, she's welcomed by a cobra slithering into bed with her, which is "killed" with an umbrella but then transforms into a piece of rope.

Anita keeps tormenting the family, mostly in her cobra form, and bites a face, slithers inside a pants leg, traps Lina inside a car with constrictor snakes and knocks her off a dock into the water and causes people to shoot one another. Whenever it's time for hand-to-hand combat, Anita transforms back into her human form. The finale takes place in the woods and at a huge rock quarry and features an arm hacked off with a machete, laser snakes, numerous people knocked over a rocky embankment to their deaths, a neck snapped with a thigh, a snake fight, lots more human fighting and a female spiritualist (Connie Sutedja) who has a laser battle with Anita and then transforms into a giant frog (!?) before dying.

While this starts getting a little sloppy toward the end and I can definitely do without seeing real animal slaughter (there's also a completely pointless bit where a constrictor is put inside a cage with a rabbit), this hits all of the other right notes one would want out of such a film. It's filled with action and martial arts (the fight scenes are actually pretty good), magic, cheap special effects, animal attacks, flash editing, fun costumes, nice shooting locations and has a fast-paced, bizarre, sometimes incoherent and highly entertaining plot that combines jungle adventure, fantasy, snake horror and even a little haunted house flick in the last 30 minutes.

Anita is a very good vehicle for Beatrice, who must have been pretty popular in Indonesia in the 80s because this was one of 14 (!) films she did in 1984 alone. Here, she's nice to look at, enthusiastic, acquits herself pretty well with the martial arts demands and is obviously brave to spend half the movie with snakes crawling all over her, not to mention wearing that live snake headdress for most of her scenes. Beatrice abruptly disappeared from films for good in the late 80s after marrying (and having six children with) wealthy Malaysian businessman Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who was dabbling in film production at the time. He would go on to become a politician, serving on the Malaysian Parliament and as the countries Minister of Tourism, and has been embroiled in bribery, corruption and tax evasion scandals in the past few years.

This has never been released in America nor is it available in an English language version. I could only track down one home video release; an Indonesian one on the VCD format.

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