Saturday, March 5, 2011

In short: Rajang Setan

aka Satan's Bed

When divorcee Siska, her daughter Meria and her niece Nina move into the fine new luxury villa Siska's rich boyfriend Markus has bought for her, they probably did not expect to wander onto the turf of a duo of rather aggressive ghosts left over from a murder case from the 40s. Mostly, the ghostly work of evil is done by a rather ripe looking guy wearing a razorblade glove who prefers to attack his victims inside of dreams - let's call him Freddie; late in the movie, his blonde ghost girlfriend starts to assist him with her powers of "sexiness". Anyway, the lusty Nina is soon killed off by Freddie. Of course, her boyfriend Rudy is the police's main suspect.

Since most everyone reading this blog will be familiar with the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, I don't see the need to go much further into the plot. Suffice it to say that the film only adds a few minutes of the female ghost's shenanigans, some awful comic relief and two failed exorcisms to the original's mix.

It's a shame, really, because some of the other South-East Asian Nightmare rip-offs I've seen - and man, are there a lot of them! - used the original's most characteristic bits and pieces in a rather creative way, keeping with Craven's basic plot set-up, but adding a lot of local colour.

Rajang Setan doesn't really add anything interesting, but seems more occupied with subtracting the most successful parts of Craven's film without bothering to replace them with anything exciting. Gone is the inventive female teenage heroine (she's replaced by a whiny brat, pure chance and a very random priest), the suspenseful struggle to stay awake, and Craven's intelligently constructed transitions between reality and dream. In a film made in Indonesia during the 80s like this, I would at least have hoped these elements to be replaced with the traditional amount of freaky ideas and cheap gore, but director H. Tjut Djalil seems more interested in long, dully staged dialogue sequences explaining the evils of divorce. The second failed exorcism with Freddie making a Caesarean Section from inside his priestly enemy is somewhat fun to watch, as is the last priest (there are many different sorts of priests and shamans in Indonesia roaming the lands and fighting spirits, it seems) hitting dead people with a large cross (always a favourite), but that's about all Rajang Setan has to offer apart from a little insight in what a Conservative horror film maker from Indonesia in 1986 thought about divorce. The latter is somewhat interesting, yet nothing that I need to watch a full-length movie for.


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