Lady Terminator
Indonesia / 1988
Directed by "Jalil Jackson" (H. Tjut Djalil)
Starring
Barbara Anne Constable
Claudia Angelique Rademaker
Christopher J. Hart
Color / 82 Minutes / Not Rated
Format: DVD / R0 - NTSC
Mondo Macabro
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Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
7
    8   10 = Highest Rating  
From the 1970s through the early '90s Indonesia experienced an economic boom leading to a relaxation of censorship in popular entertainment. These conditions (while they lasted) had a major impact on the nation's fledgling film industry, resulting in an explosion of low budget exploitation flicks, some made with foreign distribution in mind. Imitating trends then prevalent in Hollywood yet fashioned with themes and motifs unique to their own culture, Indonesian filmmakers created some undeniably strange movies... of which Lady Terminator (AKA Nasty Hunter) is perhaps the best known. It actually received a limited release in the U.S., playing a few theaters before briefly going to VHS and then disappearing altogether. Even so, I'd never heard of the film before until now. It would've remained an obscure, oddball novelty — flying under the average cult movie fan's radar — if not for Mondo Macabro's new DVD edition.
    An utterly shameless rip-off of The Terminator, if one sets aside the distinctly Indonesian backstory it's practically a carbon copy of the 1984 James Cameron film. Dialog, camera angles and entire set-pieces are mimicked with gleeful abandon. At one point, during a massacre at a nightclub, the hero actually says to the intended victim, "Come with me if you want to live." There's even an exacto knife/eye surgery scene that's completely unnecessary to the story but thrown in anyway, just because it was a sequence of note in the Schwarzenegger flick.
    I gotta hand it to director "Jalil Jackson" (H. Tjut Djalil) and company.
If you're going to rip something off this brazenly, at least do it with gusto. On that score at least Lady Terminator is a rousing success.
    A prominent figure from Javanese folklore,
the legendary South Sea Queen, is the film's heavy — not a time-traveling robot from the future. This horny supernatural siren dwells in a castle by the sea, where she lures men to their doom. During sex, an eel inside her vagina bites their peckers off at the height of passion! (I couldn't make this up if I wanted to.) One young stud is able to resist the Queen's wiles. He snatches the eel from her snatch, upon which it transforms into a magical dagger he uses to defeat her. But before vanishing the furious Queen swears vengeance against the man's great-granddaughter. (Revenge is a dish best postponed, I guess.) Flash-forward a hundred years... American anthropologist Tania Wilson (Barbara Anne Constable) is researching the lore surrounding the South Sea Queen, chartering a boat to take her to the spot where legend says the Queen's castle sank beneath the waves. As Tania is scuba diving a tsunami suddenly appears out of nowhere, destroying the boat and its crew. She herself blacks out, only to awaken tied to a huge mattress in an otherwise dark, empty void. A really fake-looking cartoon eel slithers up to Tania's prostrate form and enters her body through her coochie! The spirit of the South Sea Queen is reborn in the shapely anthropologist.
    The possessed Tania then emerges naked from the surf, seducing and slaughtering a pair of drunken party boys she encounters on the beach. As the police puzzle over the dickless corpses, Tania begins stalking her intended victim, the great-granddaughter of the man who bested the South Sea Queen all those years ago
— Erica (Claudia Angelique Rademaker), an up-and-coming pop singer. (Thus we're inevitably subjected to a bad musical number.) Collecting an arsenal of weapons and killing anyone who gets in her way, this supernatural assassin absolutely will not stop until the target is eliminated. Erica's only hope for survival is her elderly uncle, a shaman with knowledge of the Queen's magic powers, and Max McNeill (Christopher J. Hart), top cop in Jakarta's "Speshal Sekuriti" Squad (that's how it's spelled!) who naturally falls in love with her.* Countless bullets fly and multiple explosions bloom before the final, ultimate confrontation.
    Yes, Lady Terminator is quite bad, but also enormously entertaining
— the very essence of cinema cheese. I had a really good time with this film. Its goofy, willy-nilly mixture of action, horror and sexploitation elements make for a heady psychotronic brew. The filmmakers pull out all the stops within the limited budget, doing so with surprising technical panache despite the utter ridiculousness of the story. Just about everything a cheese lover could hope for is on hand: ludicrous plot, uproariously inane dialog, terrible acting, tacky fashions and hairdos (based on the reviews I've read to date, the astonishing όber-mullet of Max's buddy Snake will live in infamy), chintzy special effects and, most importantly, an almost complete lack of restraint. When our villainess kills a soldier she doesn't do it half-assed, oh no. She uses 20 or 30 bullets just to administer the coup de grace, then kicks the dead guy in the crotch for good measure. (It helps in these situations that everybody's guns seem to be set on Unlimited Ammo Mode. But even a Lady Terminator will eventually exhaust her supply... That's when she relies on her backup weapon: laser beams fired from her eyes!) Explosive, wall-to-wall action is the watchword for the final half-hour, as a rocket-firing helicopter and an armored car — referred to as a "panzer" by the cops — are employed against the ferocious femme fatale. (Who translated the script into English? Heinz Guderian?)
    Then there's Lady T herself, Barbara Anne Constable. Per the IMDB this marks her one and only film credit. Too bad, I say. We first meet her as the whiny anthropologist seeking an old book of legends, wearing glasses and frumpy clothes
— looking for all the world like that mousy, annoying former MTV hostess, Kennedy. This can't be our ferocious female killing machine, I thought. Next Constable appears on the charter boat in a black bikini, at which point my eyebrows first shot up. (Hey now... that sure doesn't look like Kennedy!) When she strolled topless onto the beach, body glistening in the moonlight, I felt I'd discovered a new B-movie goddess. Once she suited up in that black leather ensemble (where'd she get the green tube top?) I was practically in love. Constable has only a single line of dialog after becoming possessed but delivers a commendable performance in Terminator mode. She actually gives Arnold a run for his money in the relentless, stone-faced robot department. (And is much better looking to boot.) Now just why the spirit of the vengeful, hotheaded South Sea Queen suddenly becomes a cold, unemotional automaton when transferred to another body is, like everything else in this film, never explained. But plot and logic be damned! Let's be honest, fellas... When you've got a hot-lookin', heat-packin' chick in leather cookin' off thousands of rounds of automatic weapons fire — and occasionally getting naked during lulls in the action — do you really need much else? That she comes packaged with all that tasty cheese only sweetens the deal.
    So load that bong and crack open the hooch... This is a great party flick, y'all. Just remember to knock back a shot in honor of the folks at Mondo Macabro, who dared to bring this deliciously goofy film to our shores.
* In an effort to render the film more export-friendly, the actors mouthed their lines in English to be dubbed later. Also, a sizable chunk of the cast is populated by Caucasians. It's highly doubtful there are very many all-American blonde guys on the Indonesian police force; I'd bet good money that Jakarta shopping malls don't employ white women as cleaning ladies.

Lady Terminator looks surprisingly good on MM's new DVD when one considers the film's obscurity and low budget origins. The transfer is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Dirt and minor instances of print damage make occasional appearances but are never distracting; color balance looks spot-on. A serviceable mono audio track renders dialog, gunfire, explosions and the Casio-composed music score clear and distortion-free.
   
Extras include a worn, dupey-looking (but still amusing) trailer, alternate "clothed" scenes (for domestic audiences), a filmography of director Djalil, a gallery of promotional art/video box covers, and two step-through text essays. The first of these is a broad overview of Indonesian horror/exploitation films, while the second, The Legend of the South Sea Queen, provides insights into the native folklore that inspired the movie's villain and explains the significance of Constable's hotel room scenes (which otherwise don't make much sense to non-Indonesians). Best of all is the informative, well-rounded 25-minute documentary on Indonesian "eploitica". It features interviews with a number of the scene's major stars and behind-the-camera players (including Djalil), interwoven from clips from a number of their truly bizarre movies. A compilation trailer reel of Mondo Macabro titles — including a few tantalizing glimpses of upcoming releases — tops off the package. 10/05/04
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