Friday, June 4, 2021

Perjanjian di Malam Keramat (aka Pact with Forces of Darkness)

Perjanjian di Malam Keramat (aka Pact with Forces of Darkness)
Sisworo Gautama Putra

Countries trade film ideas and images with regularity. The USA's King Kong (1933) influenced  Japan's Godzilla (1954), which in turn influenced Britain's The Giant Behemoth (1958). It was not too long before Kong himself appeared alongside Godzilla. Films from other countries are often adapted and remade, often this is a disaster, but Ringu (1988) and The Ring (2002) remains one of the notable successes. For me, the most interesting version of this kind of culture exchange are films that engage in the wholesale lifting of ideas, characters, and even entire scenes from other larger films. Turkish Star Wars (1982) is perhaps the most well known of this corner of cinema.

Kartika needs her own music video with the Fat Boys.

Perjanjian di Malam Keramat is not as well known and unless you have an eye for the clip montages that play at the Alamo Drafthouse before the main feature, it probably would remain so. In this film, Kartika (Suzzanna), her husband, and two kids live in large mansion. The entire family is machine gunned to death by intruders one night. A couple of villagers nearby are directed to move into the house by the bank that now owns it. Whoops, Kartika’s ghost appears with a familiar razor fingered glove!  Kartika scares the family out of the house and begins to hunt down the people who killed her. A parade of exorcists and priests are sent to stop her but nothing seems to work. Who ordered the original murders and what will happen when Kartika gets her claws on them?

After the violent opening and talky first act, Perjanjian di Malam Keramat gets down to business and that business is combing spirit-on-the-loose shenanigans with scenes stolen entirely from Nightmare on Elm Street. 4: The Dream Master (1988) which is an oddly specific choice. It’s not a popular entry in the series (although it is my favorite). The real joy is seeing how the creators achieve the same set-pieces but without access to millions of dollars of SFX. To their credit, the scene to do create are often charming and quite fun. Of special note is the weightlifting turned bug transformation scene. An impressive sequence in Nightmare 4 where a character has her arms break off and is slowly turned into a cockroach. The poor victim is a turned into a strange crab monster in Perjanjian di Malam Keramat, but if anything, the whole scene if even more disturbing just by virtue of how low tech and strange it is. Aside from the violence and child murder there is healthy amount of silly comedy too. You might think it is out of place, but this too feels like it was borrowed from late cycle Freddy’s often ridiculous sense of humor.

"Is that a chainsaw or are you just happy to see me?"

Perjanjian di Malam Keramat is delightful mess of Indonesian horror. It is funny, gory, and once it hits its stride; it is extremely entertaining. This is film is a small miracle of outright theft, extreme creatively, and a real no-rules approach to horror filmmaking that makes it a delight to discover.

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