The latest edition of Taiwan Noir is the first of two back-to-back episodes in which Swedish sex god Kenny B and myself discuss special effects heavy Taiwanese fantasy movies. First up is War God, aka The Big Calamity, a true Taiwanese Kaiju film with the uncanny power to turn adult male cult film fans into raving ten year old boys. Listen here.
Today I'm very pleased to be making my return to Teleport City. This month we're paying tribute to the late Christopher Lee while honoring his wish that he not be remembered for his portrayal of Dracula alone. That means that we are plumbing some of his more offbeat ventures into genre cinema, such as the musical superhero satire The Return of Captain Invincible. You can read my review of that divisive film here.
Last Wednesday's Pop Offensive was a sugar coated blast, surveying two minute bursts of pop perfection from countries as varied as Macedonia, Vietnam, Germany, Finland, Spain, Sweden, and that big one that keeps Canada and Mexico from bumping into each other, the name of which escapes me at the moment. Along the way we gave you a taste of the glories of Eurovision, the drunken revels of Octoberfest, and the heyday of Bay Area punk, not to mention a healthy portion of glam, northern soul, girl group sounds, and UK psych pop.
Of course, you know all of that, because you listened to it live. Wait.... You didn't listen to it?
Alright, then. I guess you'll be wanting this link to the archived version of the show.
At Pop Offensive, we don't need a cause to celebrate, or to celebrate at all, really. No, we're happy just to mark the simple passing of time--albeit with a butt-rocking collection of international pop, dance, and movie tunes. So let's get the party started (or not--we don't care), this Wednesday, August 19th at 7pm PT, streaming live from http://9thfloorradio.com.
As they say, some things are best left locked in the cupboards of recorded time--last Tuesday's tweet-along to Lady Terminator, for instance. Still, if your curiosity gets the best of you--and you have no fear of unleashing a cock-chomping Indonesian sex beast--click on the link below to read a Storified transcript of the whole sordid affair.
Indonesian folklore tells of a goddess who rises up from the South Sea to take vengeance upon mankind. Indonesian exploitation cinema further tells us of how she takes the guise of a leather-clad, machine gun-toting underwear model. Yes, it's Lady Terminator, and her time has come. Time, that is, to be the subject of tonight's 4DK Monthly Movie Shout Down. Please join us tonight--that's Tuesday, August 11th--on Twitter at 6pm PT as, using the hashtag #4DKMSD, we tweet along to this uproariously entertaining oddity.
Over the course of dozens of movies like Sundel Bolong and Nyi Blorong,
Indonesian horror icon Suzzanna established herself as the
personification of female vengeance, a representation of the payback due
for every one of man's oafish transgressions against womankind. Thus it
was probably inevitable that man, in the person of the production team
behind Bannyang Nyi Roror Kidul, would strike back at her by putting her
at the center of an insubstantial, comic relief filled film that
concludes with a disco fashion show.
As many Indonesian horror films, including the sublime Lady Terminator,
have told us, the South Seas Queen is a figure from Indonesian folklore
who periodically rises up from the ocean to lure men to their doom with
her sex voodoo. The question remains, however, whether this would happen
at all were we just to leave her alone. You'll recall that, in Lady Terminator, she was roused by a foxy, constantly self-announcing anthropologist. In Bannyang Nyi Roror Kidul, it's a trio of young douchebags who mount a diving expedition to pluck her sleeping form from the ocean floor and bring it back to the mainland. Once this has been accomplished, she quickly revives and makes short work of one of their number, turning him into human jerky by vomiting lightning out of every one of her facial orifices.
This necessary culling of the cast list leaves us with the two remaining douchebags, Ario (George Rudy), the Chachi shag-wearing hunk of the group, and Dudi (Dorman Borisman), the one you'll least likely want to see showing as much skin as he does throughout pretty much the entire film. Together they head off in search of the Queen and are eventually joined by a fetching lady journalist named Wieke (Nena Rosier).
Meanwhile, the Queen (Suzzanna, natch) has chosen to walk this Earth in the guise of mortal beauty Neneng, and heads for the city to go shopping. Along the way she is subjected to no end of catcalling and crass behavior by the male population. This she generally responds to by flash frying the perpetrator with her face lightning. Unfortunately, one of her victims is missed by a gang of armed hooligans--among whose number is an outrageous gay stereotype--who set out to capture her for their own evil purposes.
At one point, the gang attempts to rob Ario's palatial home, only to be foiled by Neneng's spooky intervention. Now, I may be wrong (yes, subtitles would have been helpful), but it seems that at this point an alliance of sorts is formed between Neneng and the heroes, which would essentially make Bannyang Nyi Roror Kidul the Godzilla vs. Megalon of the Indonesian South Seas Queen film genre. This evident goodwill leads to a scene in which the whole gang shows up to cheer Neneng on as she participates in some kind of modelling contest. This she wins handily by wearing a massive starburst shaped headdress and carrying a cobra shaped urn from which she throws candy to the audience. A final confrontation between the forces of good and evil follows that is rife with 80s action movie beats, as well as a bit where Suzzanna ends up tied to the tracks in front of an oncoming train.
All of this action is surrounded by no end of comic relief shenanigans. Yes, there is a midget, and he at one point dances to canned disco music with a fellow who is comically tall and skinny. A stock greedy holy man character appears to scam the heroes--oh, and he has a comically shrewish wife! People get exaggeratedly frightened and run away from things in fast motion. Amid all of this, Suzzanna comports herself with her usual regal calm, appearing as if she is barely tolerating all of the tomfoolery she's being subjected to.
Given all of the above, it's hard to say what type of film Bannyang Nyi Roror Kidul is at its heart. It is undeniable, however, that it is a horror film in form, and an Indonesian horror film, at that--which means that it is obligated to frighten and disgust us to at least some extent. The first it accomplishes in a scene where one of the Queen's dessicated victims sits up on the autopsy table and starts zapping everyone, which is among the most shocking and terrifying that I've seen in these films. The "ugh" moment come care of a bit where Suzzanna regurgitates live centipedes. You stay you, Indonesia.
The best thing I can say about Bannyang Nyi Roror Kidul is that Suzzanna comes out of it with her dignity intact--which is something that you would, of course, expect, given she's fricking Suzzanna. It's a shame, though, because the idea of casting one of these fearsome figures from Indonesian folklore in a superheroic context has the potential to be really fun. I think it's just that Sisworo Gautama Putro, having directed so many of Suzzanna' fright flicks, was not the director to pull it off. He has, however, done so much to contribute to an oeuvre that is for the most part outrageously entertaining that I think he can be forgiven this one.
The next 4DK Monthly Movie Shout Down is coming up this Tuesday, August 11, and believe me, you will not want to miss it. Our feature will be Lady Terminator, an Indonesian action film so 80s that even the explosions have mullets. You can read more of my thoughts on the movie here, but suffice it to say that there are few other films in the cult cinema canon that provide so much in the way of misbegotten hilarity.
To join in our action packed annotations of this classic, simply log into Twitter at 6pm PT sharp and, using the hashtag #4DKMSD, tweet along with us as we watch the film via the link I will provide here.