Monday, October 9, 2023

Serbuan Halilintar (1982)

... aka: Batas Impian Serbuan Halilintar
... aka: Lightning Strike
... aka: Special Silencers
... aka: Thunderbolt Invasion

Directed by:

When I first did a brief capsule review for this title back in 2009, I noted, "...this seems like something Mondo Macabro might be interested in releasing." Now here we are well over a decade later and, lo and behold, Mondo Macabro will finally be releasing Special Silencers on Blu-ray here in just a few weeks! It will join their slowly growing catalogue of Indonesian titles that currently also includes QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (1981), Mystics in Bali (1981), THE WARRIOR (1981), THE DEVIL'S SWORD (1984), VIRGINS FROM HELL (1986), LADY TERMINATOR (1989) and Dangerous Seductress (1992). Though a poor-quality English-dubbed VHS copy (sourced from an old Dutch tape) has been available for quite some time now online and on torrent sites, Mondo's Blu-ray will be the film's very first official U.S. release.

Evil, power-mad Gundar (W.D. Mochtar) is willing to do whatever it takes, even abstaining from sex to "purify" his soul and murdering whoever gets in his way, to become the head of the village of Kulon. Problem is, that role is already occupied by the wealthy and well-liked Hamid (Darussalam), who plans on soon passing the torch off to one of his relatives... and there are plenty of them in line! Included are his brother, Harun (Malino Djunaedy), his daughter, Yulia (Eva Arnaz), and his beloved nephew, Dayat (Herman Pero), whom he has raised as his own since he was a young boy. In order to destroy that family dynasty and seize control, Gundar has hatched a plan using some magical pink "Pati seeds" he's acquired. Well, he didn't actually acquire them so much as he stole them!

In a brief flashback, we see Gundar karate chop his monk grandfather and then steal his "special silencers," which have differing effects depending on who takes them. If one has a pure heart and is spiritually centered, like the monks are, they can be used to make the person who possesses them invincible to weapons and sharp objects. However, if they're slipped into an unsuspecting Regular Joe's food or drink, or if someone rotten eats one, there's another complication - a rapidly-growing tree begins sprouting in their stomach, ripping them apart! Gundar lost a limb in the process of stealing them when gramps hacked his leg off with a machete, but he's hoping it was all worth it.

Gundar's equally depraved right hand man, Gumilar (Dicky Zulkarnaen), has already managed to infiltrate Hamid's inner circle by landing a job working as his clerk, which enables him to slip a seed into Hamid's coffee. The village leader suddenly falls to the ground and dies after two branches tear through his chest.

Soon after, Yulia, who's been away at college in Jakarta, and her uncle Harun, are headed to the village when their jeep breaks down. Riding into town on his motorcycle at around the same time is Hendar (Barry Prima), a former classmate of the nephew. When he stops to help them, he and Yulia are instantly smitten with one another, just as Prima and Arnaz are instantly smitten with one another in nearly every other film they appeared together in, just as the two were smitten with each other in real life since they'd eventually marry, though smitten isn't always a permanent condition, so the two would eventually divorce. Stranded while waiting for a bridge to be repaired and waiting for Hendar to retrieve help, Yulia and Harun have their attempt at a peaceful picnic ruined when Gumilar shows up and sneaks seeds into their chow when nobody's looking. Harun ends up eating them with the expected results.

Most of the rest of the film is wall-to-wall action, with our heroes barely having the time to catch their breath before they're jumping into their next fight scene, usually against Gundar's seemingly never-ending stockpile of thugs. Though the editing and choreography is uneven, these scenes are still very entertaining, elaborately staged and fun to watch, featuring lots of high kicks, punches, flips, various martial arts moves (Prima himself has a background in tae kwan do) and incorporating spears, logs, pipes, nets, swords, sickles, axes and other props for a little variety. One of the most memorable scenes finds Prima fighting off the bad guys while on top of, and underneath, a moving truck as they attempt to stab him through the cover tarp with a machete!

Not only is there plenty of action, amusing moments and a genuinely bizarre plot, there's also a heaping helping of blood and gore. The scenes featuring the seeds at work, with branches popping out of stomachs and mouths accompanied by large quantities of gushing blood are memorable, and the special effects themselves are surprisingly good, especially for an older Indonesian film. We also get impalements, eye gougings, hacked off limbs, animal attacks, a very catchy synth score from Gatot Sudarto and lots of other goodies.

Mochtar and Zulkarnean were frequently typecast as bad guys in these things, but it's easy to see why. Both are a joy to watch and seem to be having a ball playing sleazy, evil assholes who takes great pride in all of their heinous deeds! Zulkarnaen (also great in the aforementioned Virgins from Hell) especially seems to be having fun as he rapes a virginal fisherman's daughter (Enny Beatrice) and then laughs in her face, causing her to commit suicide, and then climbs a tree and dumps a bag of poisonous snakes over a rival's head as he rides by on a bicycle. Both he and Mochtar also get to oversee the memorable finale where they torture our heroes with snakes, rats, whipping, bear traps, stinky shoes (!) and even a giant saw blade. The cast also includes Indo genre regulars Eddy S. Jonathan as the main henchman (who smokes a lot of weed) and an uncredited Husin Lubis as a healer.

What most have seen up to this point, the English-dubbed Dutch VHS from Delta Video, was in very poor condition, had the company logo frequently pop up on screen, had jagged editing cuts and blurred out nudity during the rape scene. What I just viewed is the restored version that was recently released in Indonesia. While this version looks a hell of a lot better than the Dutch VHS, it still has the same abrupt cuts and blurred nudity and the two releases have the same exact running time of 86 1/2 minutes. I'm not sure if the Mondo Macabro Blu will be longer, contain any new scenes or be truly uncensored, but I'll come back here and do a comparison once it hits the market. I'm also really looking forward to seeing their new box art since all of the older art for this title sucks. (Update: Added this below and it is indeed much, much better artwork as expected.)

The release year for this is often listed as 1979, though the copyright date in the opening credits is 1982 and all Indonesian film sources also say 1982. Ironically enough, this potential error traces back to the 1997 book Mondo Macabro: Weird & Wonderful Cinema Around the World written by British author Pete Tombs, who's one of the co-founders of distributor Mondo Macabro.

* Going to add another brief note here that the actual release year for this is still not entirely known as of this writing. My hunch of 1982 comes from both the Indonesian sources and the film coinciding with the debut of a certain cast member.

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