Thursday, November 7, 2013

THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (1979)

I'm afraid it's all downhill after the swanky Rapi Films logo.


THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC is an Indonesian product, rescued from obscurity by Mondo Macabro.  Like similar regional works (MYSTICS IN BALI, VIRGINS FROM HELL), there are elements here that promise much, but the final result is less than satisfying.  We open with a wedding, which is torn asunder by black magic!  That's half the title in the bag already.  The unknown magician attacks the bride with hallucinations, including this trio of monsters, which is of course led by a super-fakey fake skeleton.


The aggrieved groom, who has a Freddie Mercury mustache and wears periwinkle polo shirts, assumes that the assailant is his jilted love, Murni.  As the film repeatedly tells us, you can't prove black magic, so he and his shantytown colleagues skip a trial and just throw her off a cliff.  Luckily, she bumps off the rocks limply, almost like a dummy, and lands in the arms of a kindly old cave-dweller.  Suzzanne plays this role and ordinarily looks a lot better than this Benedicio Del Toro/Tom Keifer hybrid shot would suggest.


It's pretty clear early on that this guy who adorns his cave with skulls and unlevel shelving is up to no good.


Murni tales her tale of woe in the film's funniest scene.  "I didn't want to lose my virginity here!" she whines as a cow with perfect comic timing wanders across the screen.


So Murni becomes the Queen of Black Magic and takes intermittently gory revenge on her tormentors.  This is a film from a conservative Muslim country, so you don't get as much exploitation excitement as the synopsis might suggest.  It was super-strange to see optical fogging over something other than Japanese pubic hair, but I guess we should be grateful that the film mullahs let us see her naked elbows.


You'll know that this is a film from a Muslim country once you reach the mosque makeover.  A gentleman arrives from town to put a stop to this black magic-ing and exhort the citizens to return to regular prayer.


The conventional morality fits snugly with the conventional storytelling, although there certainly are some of the outlandish Oceanic elements that one would expect.  FLYING HEAD!


Occasional bloody triumphs aside, I doubt this would be a candidate for reissue if it had been made in Indiana or something.  QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC isn't really black magical enough to demand your time over many other contenders.  Drab despite the self-defenestration and fire-shooting girls.


RATING: 5

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