Saturday, February 17, 2024

Bisikan Setan (1985)

... aka: Satan's Whisper

Directed by:
B.Z. Kadaryono

Vina Mintaraga (Lia Waroka) is the latest pop sensation to hit Indonesia by storm. Her tapes are quickly flying off the shelves, she packs venues (well, not very big ones but they're still venues!), she's constantly swarmed by photographers, she's on the front page of newspapers, she has an adoring public hunting her down begging for her autograph and she's just recently scored a top-selling gold album. While her professional life couldn't be better, her personal life has its problems, namely in the form of Antoni (Leroy Osmani). Back when Vina was still struggling, Antoni was a frequent collaborator. He thinks he made her and deserves compensation. She thinks she made herself and he deserves nothing. Either way, she feels she no longer needs his services and continuing to associate with him is only going to hold her back. She finds his band subpar and opts to use another, and also rejects any song he submits to her manager and refuses to record it. Another sore spot is that Antoni is secretly in love with Vina, but she's dating a college student named Baskoro (Bagus Santoso) instead.

Even Vina's relationship with Baskoro is strained. Not that the two don't love each other and want to be together, but Baskoro's wealthy and powerful parents have set him up in an arranged-marriage-to-be with Rini (Yenny Farida - MIDNIGHT THUNDER). Thus far he's rejected the union; no surprise considering Rini is an unpleasant, materialistic spoiled brat, but his parents keep insisting. That means he has to keep his relationship with the pop star a secret for the time being. When Rini catches the two out in public together, she immediately rats him out to his parents. The father, Kang (Doddy "Wijaya" / Sukma - SATAN'S SLAVE), then goes to Vina's home and demands she end the relationship, which results in a heated argument and Vina's wheelchair-bound mother (Tien Kadaryono) kicking him out of the house.

As that's going on, Antoni gets even nastier. He and one of his band mates attack Vina and Baskoro and attempt to kill him with a switchblade. For some reason, the police are never called and this attack isn't mentioned again. Antoni then starts stalking her around town and at her shows. He and two other thugs eventually kidnap her after a late night performance, drag her back to their home and gang rape her. Afterward, she's tricked into driving a sabotaged car, crashes and is killed.

I'm sure you can guess just what happens next. Yes, it's ghostly revenge time. In the cemetery, the ground cracks open, Vina (now alternately seen looking normal in her white burial clothes and as a bloody-faced ghoul) levitates out of her grave, floats through the graveyard and then immediately gets to work. She first visits one of her rapists, making him puke up worms, trapping him in a wormy (acidic?) blood shower, pelting him with levitating furniture, clawing him and then knocking him out a window. Later we get to see eyeballs ripped out, a hand cut off with a cleaver and people getting thrown off bridges, drown, run over and some other stuff.

Not only is Vina out to avenge her own death, but she still wants to intervene in Baskoro's life to help him out. She finds out that Rini isn't in love with him and she and her mooch parents are simply scheming to get their hands on all of that money. Vina would much rather he get together with the sweet, shy Astuti (Dina Mariana), a girl he casually knows from college. Coincidentally, Astuti is also an aspiring singer and, even more coincidentally, Antoni has also weaseled his way into her life as a new "mentor." He then tries to destroy the romantic relationship the ghost is trying to facilitate using the same techniques he used on Vina (namely blackmail and rape).

Even though the first half of the movie plays out entirely serious, this includes quite a few silly, lighthearted scenes of Vina using her supernatural powers in the second half that throw the tone off balance. The ghost helps Baskoro's basketball team win and ruins a date he has with Rini by pulling the seat out from under her and splashing a drink in her face. She also protects Astuti from being beaten up, pulls ears and hair, slaps people in the face, knocks people into a pool, makes someone envision worms in their noodles and pushes Rini's face into a cake at a birthday party then rips off her dress. It's all enough to finally convince Baskoro's parents that Rini is too crazy to be their daughter-in-law and they call off the arrangement. Not that they shouldn't have been controlling assholes and just let their son pick his own girlfriend to begin with but, ya know, different cultures and stuff.

This never really rises above being merely average, with scattered fun moments mingling with dull, soapy familial melodrama. I've seen far worse produced, acted and directed films from this time than what we get here, but that still doesn't make up for the fact there's nothing new plot-wise, too few surprises and too few outrageous moments. The biggest hurdle for most will be that it takes time to actually get to the horror content. In fact, the first 40 minutes would lead you to believe this wasn't a horror film at all. Once the genre trappings finally do set it, the results are mixed but it's at least a lot more entertaining then.

Also thrown into the mix are a few uninspired fight scenes, a brief and blurry "erotic" bathing scene with Farida looking directly at the camera making come hither faces and half a dozen stage performances and recording sessions featuring Waroka lip syncing her way through "Pesona" ("Charm") and "Nayalakan Lilin Dihatimu" ("Light a Candle in Your Heart"), a couple of cheesy ballads written by Gatot Sudarto, who also scored the film. The vocals were provided by Yenny Sri Wahyuni, a complete unknown here in America but, judging by her extensive discography in the 70s and 80s, apparently a popular singer in her home country at the time.

Small roles are inhabited by Baron Hermanto, Cherry Ivonne, Lina Budiarti, Eddy Bakar Pare and other familiar faces. For being the fourth most populated country on the planet (over 165 million when this was shot), Indonesia sure seemed to have tiny talent pool to pull from in the 80s since the same exact folks always pop up in these things. Not that I'm necessarily complaining either. It gives off a close knit family type of appeal similar to that of the concurrent U.S. B-movie industry.

As far as I know, this title was only released on VCD a single time but a decent widescreen version (day scenes are too soft / overexposed but night scenes look good here) is around now and it has played on Indonesian television. It's also currently available on Youtube. No real English subs are available to my knowledge but you can follow the plot easily enough translating the auto-generated subs.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...