Saturday, April 6, 2024

Wanita Harimau: Santet II (1989)

... aka: Black Magic II
... aka: Black Magic 2: The Female Tiger
... aka: Tiger Woman: Black Magic II, The
... aka: Santet 2
... aka: Witchcraft II

Directed by:
Sisworo Gautama Putra

Poor Katemi (Suzzanna) just can't catch a break. In the previous film, her squeaky-clean life as a devout religious teacher's wife was shattered when the couple were framed for using black magic, leading to his death and her being reduced to becoming the unwilling pupil of an actual black magic crocodile queen. Though Katemi ended up killing quite a few people, she was able to repent, save her soul and return a life of normalcy. Praise Allah! Unfortunately, the previous queen - Nyi Angker - wasn't actually the top black magic bitch in the neighborhood. She herself was a student of an even more powerful witch named Nyi Loreng (Rina Hasyim - MIRACLE BABY), who just randomly pops up in Katemi's wardrobe late one evening wearing an amazing wig. The witch has her own list of demands, starting with her insistence that Katemi start practicing black magic again, When she refuses, Nyi Loreng simply takes over her body so she no longer has a choice in the matter. Now, on nights with a crescent moon, she'll transform into a killer tiger. The ultimate goal is to get revenge on handsome young cleric Achmad Pramuji (Jeffry "Daniel" / Waworuntu), who was able to pray away Nyi Angker until she exploded in the previous film.

Meanwhile, the cursed village of Karang Seta has tried to reinvent itself with some major changes for the good. They've removed the "n" from their name (it used to be "Setan"), non-corrupt Saleh (Doddy Sukma - SATAN'S BED) has recently been elected as leader and they even appear to have hired a proper policeman named Nasir (H. Nasir T.) to try to keep crime in check. However, he's been saddled with buffoonish Bokir as his assistant and apparently that buffoonery is contagious because Nasir is yukking it up himself in no time.

To celebrate, they throw an outdoor concert featuring a hijab-sporting all-female rock band (!) called Nasida Ria. I had to stop and immediately look these ladies up to make sure they were for real. Yes, they are indeed for real, and they're pretty unique and actually kind of great. These ladies perform numerous stringed instruments (including electric guitar and violin), but also several different styles of drums (including traditional and bongo), tambourine, flute and keyboard, plus the lead vocals and harmonizing are on point AND the song they perform here (which seems to be titled "The World Is in the News") has political and social messages. Nasida Ria, who have apparently been around for almost half a century, released 35 studio albums and are in a constant state of updating talent, have a stated purpose of making catchy, upbeat music to spread positive messages and social commentary. As for what the heck they're doing in this silly black magic horror-comedy is anyone's guess, but I was happy to be introduced to them. They even throw some colorful lights, smoke and fireworks into their show.

Unlike in the previous film where Katemi kept her black magic influence hidden, here she's completely upfront about it as soon as it begins. She informs Pramuji and the police that Nyi Loreng is possessing her, transforming her into a tiger and wants to force her to kill Pramuji. She's instructed to pray harder to banish the witch and is able to keep her away, though only temporarily, using that tactic, but the witch still keeps coming back to haunt her. Katemi's recent troubles have also played hell on her social standing in the community. She has to live on the outskirts all by herself, is constantly the subject of gossip, is refused service at a market and is taunted by adult and children alike. Most believe she should be forced to leave the area. At the end of her rope, Katemi decides to kill herself. However, before she can even get her head in a noose, some villagers show up with torches and set her hut on fire.

A defeated and disheveled Katemi manages to survive and makes her way through the jungle until she ends up in a blue-lit cave, which is the home (and burial site) of Nyi Loreng. The undead witch now finds Katemi weaker and much more pliable than she was earlier, and thus easier to manipulate. Soon, the "tiger woman" is prowling around the village causing a near panic among the locals and prompting a tiger hunt, though it's more of a tiger capture since - as it is pointed out here - the animals are a protected species in Indonesia.

The same guy cast as the main baddie in the previous film is back again. But he was burnt to a crisp after being transformed into a werewolf and hit by fireballs, you say? Well, this time he plays Brahma, the son of the dead guy. Lest you mix them up, the son likes to wear a silly black wig with either a gigantic cowboy hat or glittery headband, and the apple didn't fall far from the tree as far as nefarious criminal activity is concerned. I. Gusti Jagat Karana is the actor playing him and in case you were wondering about this man's unique face, no, it's not make-up and, yes, he's disfigured. I'm not sure if he suffered a burn or had some kind of disease but his face, and only his face, is covered in bumps, lumps, cracks and wrinkles and he has a fat, swollen nose. Brahma is not only involved in smuggling marijuana into the village (hidden inside fish) but he's also out for revenge against Katemi for killing his father and the one responsible for burning down her hut.

In between the horror, we're treated (if that's the word for it) to the comic shenanigans and musical talents of Bokir. In a major subplot, he finds himself bored with his chubby, frumpy wife, Oji (Neny Ribut Rawit), who he compares to a cement truck, and is secretly pursuing a flirty young widow named Rina (Rina Lidya Rawit). Surprising even him, Rina appears to be receptive to his propositions for sex behind the wife's back, but all is not what it seems. Bokir and Nasir are also involved in a recurring series of bad gags detailing how inept they are, including trying to arrest the wrong guys (one with a skin condition and the other a man who can't pronounce his own name properly due to a cleft palate). They also play charades with a stuttering dwarf who can only grunt. Gotta love when disabilities are played for cheap laughs!

As for Bokir's fantasy dream musical number, it's pretty amazing if you like strange, goofy stuff. It starts out in a flower garden gazebo at night with sitar, pungi and bongo players, a bubble machine, confetti, a fireworks show, Suzzanna seductively fluttering her eyelids and licking her lips and Bokir singing about unrequited love. Then it transitions to a helicopter before going down to the jungle for a Tarzan and Jane fantasy where Suzzanna is harassed by an amorous man-in-a-suit primate until Bokir fights it off with a rubber knife and then the two lovebirds ride off into the sunset on an elephant!

After a zillion and one detours, we return to supernatural horror in the last 25 minutes. A possessed woman pukes up green slime and sea critters, a hand bursts through the back of someone's head and out the mouth (did Peter Jackson see this?) and a disembodied living hand with an eyeball on the palm tries to strangle somebody and then turns into a catfish (?!) Katemi, back to using black magic, sneaks into the drug den and kills two of the men with raw fish. Nyi Loreng, a sporadic-at-best presence in the film, finally shows up again for the finale, where she briefly transforms into a younger seductress (played by Lela Anggraini) and has a kung fu battle with the pious male lead armed with fire-shooting tiger mittens.

This sequel basically does the exact same things the first one did, and follows the original's plot and structure nearly beat for beat, only really boosting the music and comedy elements. How defiant of genre and consistent tone the whole thing is will either be a plus or a minus depending on what you like, but being beaten over the head a thousand times about how Islam is the one and only true religion ("There is no God except Allah!") grows tiresome after awhile.

That said, you never know what direction this is going in from one scene to the next. Gruesome death scene, or lighthearted comedy? Serial adulterers trying to hide from their wives by wearing foliage or one of Suzzanna's many awe-inspiring wardrobe / wig changes (including appearing in male drag a few times)? A pro-drug poster referring to weed as "heaven's leaf" or a goofy-looking plush tiger rocketing through the air? Seductive chicken thigh eating or catch of the day impalement? Hey, you get it all! The cast, right down to all the extras playing villagers, seem like they're having a great time regardless of what's going on, which makes this charming and pleasant most of the time. Not the stuff of nightmares, mind you, but it's pretty fun.


Like the original, this was given a new lease on life after languishing in VCD hell for decades courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome's 2024 Blu-ray release. Though there are better and worse films out there, both Santet films are a nice introduction to the crazy pleasures of 80s Indonesian genre cinema.

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