Friday, April 2, 2010

Dangerous Seductress (1992)

Directed by H. Tjut Djali
Starring Tonya Lawson, Kristin Anin, Amy Weber

"This fuckin' thing won't stay broken!"

H. Tjut Djali is a legend amongst adventurous exploitation fans. He is the pioneer of the floating severed head gag, as evidenced by his too-weird-to-mention-in-daylight Mystics in Bali (1981), and he also helmed perhaps the most ridiculous, bloody, and over-the-top Terminator rip-off ever, Lady Terminator (1988). His films are cheap, nasty, and relentlessly bizarre, mixing Indonesian lore and mysticism with ham-fisted Hollywood bullshit. Dangerous Seductress is no different. On the surface, it's a slightly warped riff on the erotic horror-thriller genre, but as with all of Djali's films, it's about ten times weirder than it needs to be.

A bunch of Indonesian gangsters (and one white dude) have an ill-fated shoot out while zooming through a cemetery in a goofy pink car. They get blasted to smithereens, and in their haste to wrap up the case, the cops leave one lone finger from one of the baddies lying on the ground. Somehow or another, the finger comes to life, jogs among the tombstones for a bit, and then gets hit by lightning- lightning which reveals some sort of ethereal female spirit. Once the smoke clears, bones start popping out of the ground, and a body starts forming, ala Hellraiser, from a puddle of fleshy muck. Eventually - and much to her own dismay - the ugly mess turns into a woman (Amy Weber). Well, first a dog tries to make off with her femur bone, but she rips his head off. Then she turns into a fully-formed lady. She's naked, too, except there are balls of angry blue light covering up all the best parts.

Meanwhile, back in LA, blonde cutie Susie (Tonya Lawson) waits patiently for boyfriend John (Joseph Cassano) to come home. When he does, he presents her with an engagement ring - or some kind of ring - and, naturally, expects a little affection in return. When she spurns him, he punches her in the mouth and then attempts to rape her, right there on the dining room table. So she smacks him in the face with the hot wax from a dripping candle, and hauls ass out of there.

Also meanwhile, another blonde, Linda (Kristin Anin) does a song and dance number at some fancy-pants party. After it's over, a bunch of slobbering fans give her gifts, including a guy from New Guinea who gives her a rare book that's "vital to mystics of the East", which seems sort of inappropriate for a bubble-headed American singer, but whatever.

Turns out Susan is Linda's sister. She calls her up and tells her about John's man-handling, so Linda wires her sis some dough, and she jets off to Jakarta. Susie settles in with her sister and her weirdly accommodating boyfriend, but then Linda has to travel to Bali for a photoshoot.

She leaves Susie to her own devices, which turns out to be a bad idea, since she almost immediately gets into antics. Susie discovers the ancient spell book, and starts randomly reciting stuff; unfortunately for everybody, her first reading is from the Invocation of Demonic Evil page.

The queen of darkness shows up - as a floating severed head - and merges with Susie. Now Susie is the Queen of Darkness. So she's got that going for her.

Susie/QOD tries on various slutty outfits before hitting a local disco, where she picks up some jivey dude who brings her back to his houseboat. They get frisky, but before he can seal the deal, she spouts fangs and then nails him to the wall with a spear gun. And then she eats him.

And that's pretty much it for awhile. Susie chomps on a bunch of locals, and then her psycho ex comes to town, which is convenient, since she wanted to kill/eat that fucker, too.

Meanwhile - there's a lot of meanwhiles in this movie - Susie runs into some weird mystic type in Bali, who tells her to go home and sort shit out before her whole family is destroyed by demonic evil. She takes his advice.  When she gets home, Susie's babbling away again and Linda stops her mid-spell.
"But this makes me happier than I've ever been!" Protests Susie, in her frumpy, non-happy monotone.

A desperate fight for Susie's soul ensues. How's it all end? How's anything involving demons end? Laser fight!

And also a flying car and a machine gun.  And a magic mirror. And a chicken. And also magic beans.

Dangerous Seductress has two things going for it: an alarming, weird/gross prologue, and a hilariously shoddy and over-the-top finale. Both are must-sees for fans of far-out exploitation cinema. The rest of the film? Not so much. Hampered by a cultural taboo on female nudity and slowed down to a crawl in several spots to highlight the singing/dancing/posing prowess of one-time actress Kristin Anin, Dangerous Seductress constantly teeters on the edge of balls-out, but never quite gets there. Still, best glowing, floating car scene since Repo Man, and one of the most puke-worthy graveyard regeneration sequences ever. So we break even on this one, pretty much.

- Ken McIntyre

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