Sunday, September 17, 2023

Batas Impian Ranjang Setan (1986)

... aka: Cauchemar (Nightmare)
... aka: Ranjang Setan
... aka: Satan's Bed

Directed by:
(H.) Tjut Djalil

"We feel ghosts are responsible and religion does teach us that, as well as us human beings, God created spirits annnnd it's my confirmed belief that, ummmm, that's what we got here."

Due to the overwhelming popularity of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984), there were loads of similar films made to cash in during the second half of the 80s. Most of these just utilized the general concept of killer dreams, others were very blatant in their approach, especially low budget foreign films that probably didn't have to worry about copyright laws. Batas Impian Ranjang Setan from Indonesia, given the English title Satan's Bed, is the most blatant copy I've seen thus far. The borrowings from Craven's film are almost too numerous to mention. There are the four teens dealing with typical teen stuff often seen riding around in a jeep. There are the self-absorbed parents who are too busy dealing with their own drama to pay proper attention to their children. And, most notably, there's the clawed, disfigured killer who haunts the dreams of the teenagers and kills them in their sleep. This just barely tries to camouflage what it's doing by giving the haunted home a different sordid backstory. 

A Dutch family consisting of a dad (Didier A. Hamel, now a popular artist), mom (Marianne Wolf) and their three young children, frequently seen in soft focus shots dressed in white doing jump rope in slow motion (sound familiar?), were all senselessly murdered there on Christmas day while doing a Dutch rendition of "Silent Night" (!!) at the piano.

Siska Baskoro (Linda Lolita Husein - ANITA: FEMALE SNAKES) moves into the same home years later. She's recently divorced from her lawyer husband (Mansyur Syahdan) and now dating an asshole named Marcus (Doddy Sukma), who pays all of her bills and claims he's going to soon divorce his wife to be with her. Siska's teenage daughter, Maria (Chintami Atmanegara), and teenage niece, Nina (Eva Eliza), move in with her, along with rotund maid Wanda (Sofia) and goofball gardener Bokir (H. Bokir), who are both involved in some ill-fitting comedy scenes. The two girls immediately start having terrible nightmares about a clawed ghostly figure (the Dutch husband / dad killed from the prologue) trying to kill them. Their idiot boyfriends, Irawan (Richie Ricardo, apparently a popular singer and teen idol in Indonesia at the time) and Rudy (Gusti Randa), mock their concerns until people actually start dying.

This goes right down the Elm Street 1 checklist, with little deviation. Remember when Freddy's face pushed through a wall? Remember when Freddy laughed with glee after cutting off his own finger? Remember when Freddy's claw emerged Jaws-style from the bathtub to yank Nancy underwater? Remember the sticky stairs? Remember the dead friend showing up in a body bag nightmare? Yep, that's all here, though this shuffles the order in which these moments occur in the narrative and also sometimes mixes up who they occur to. After the Nina character is killed (while wearing a "This is my SEXY t-shirt" oversized tee), Rudy is blamed for the crime. He's hauled off to prison, escapes and is later seduced by the ghost of the Dutch woman and then hung from a tree in the haunted home's front yard. Since two people have now been killed in her home and she's unable to run off to see her sugar daddy, Siska becomes depressed and lounges around all day in her robe sucking down booze.

An exorcist (Simon P.S.) is eventually called in and goes to battle with the ghosts in a foggy dream world, but it ends prematurely when the spirits detach their heads, throw them at him and then the woman's head bites down on his crotch. Siska learns from real estate agent Mr. Hendra (Anton Indracaya) that the home was built on an ancient burial ground and then this suddenly starts ripping off Poltergeist left and right, with coffins emerging out of the ground, skeletons popping out, etc. A second shaman (Belkiez Rachman) shows up, only to get killed when Dutch Freddy sticks his claw through his back and out his chest. Can a third holy man - a dwarf Catholic priest armed with a giant wooden cross (!) - save the day?

Amusingly, even with a preexisting template to steal directly from, this can't seem to do anything right. All of the NOES copycat scenes are ineptly staged, the acting is poor, the pacing is off, characters behave brain damaged and as if they could care less when people get killed (often times not even mentioning it), the editing is abysmal, the continuity is nonexistent and the make-up job on the duck-lipped Freddy substitute looks like it was applied by a toddler using finger paint.

While Satan's Bed obviously wouldn't be any good even in its original Indonesian language due to its weak attempts at emulating a vastly superior film, this is a case where the horrific English dubbing (featuring terrible voice actors and ridiculously dumb dialogue) actually help by turning what is an cheap, unscary and poorly made rip-off into a comedy goldmine. Fans of the Elm Street series should definitely get a few laughs out of it.

Unlike many other Indonesian genre films from this same time, this actually made it outside of its home country during the video era. There were at least three non-Indonesian VHS releases; one in Germany dubbed into German (under the title Satan's Bed), one in France dubbed into French (under the title Cauchemar / "Nightmare") and one in South Korea (again using the Satan's Bed title). Though I could find no evidence this was ever officially released in the U.S., UK or any other English-speaking country, at some point an English audio track was recorded. The German DVD and Blu-ray releases from Schröder Media and WMM come with both English and German audio tracks. Though a heavily-damaged print is used, the fact it's widescreen AND available in English makes it a real anomaly as far as 80s Indonesian genre films are concerned.

This actually wasn't the only Elm Street rip-off to emerge from Indonesia. There's also Sisworo Gautama Putra's Perjanjian di Malam Keramat / "Pact With the Forces of Darkness" (1991), which stars the legendary Suzzanna as the clawed killer! There were also several Indian / Hindi copies, like Khooni Murdaa / "Bloody Corpse" (1989) from Mohan Bhakri and, a little late to the party, Mahakaal / "The Monster" (1994) from the Ramsay Brothers.

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