Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Bad RI films a big hit overseas", an old article by Joko Anwar

As far as I know, Joko Anwar is the first guy who is "responsible" in introducing phenomenon of old school Indonesian exploitation/B movies transnational distribution to me (and, i guess, to his followers). I read his Multiply blog where, in 2005,  he put many film posters of those kind of movies with short explanation. Too bad, the link is gone.

But, fortunately i found his old writing on the phenomenon. I think this is the oldest article on this issue (9 December 2001). The writing was published in The Jakarta Post, under the name : Joko E.H. Anwar, Contributor, Jakarta. at that time, Joko was the film reviewer for that newspaper until he made his first feature-lenght film, Janji Joni (2005). The title is :  Bad RI films a big hit overseas

Another film review he wrote related to this issue  is

Horror flick 'The Black Magic' casts bad spells (23 July 2003).

So, here's the oldest source written by an Indonesian fan/critic. Happy reading. Too bad, most of the links he mentioned are already gone :(

"Bad RI films a big hit overseas"

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Life | Sun, December 09 2001, 7:18 AM

A- A A+
Joko E.H. Anwar, Contributor, Jakarta
You might have assumed that because a number of locally made movies, like Garin Nugroho's art-house films, have won awards at several international festivals, international audiences would be familiar with the Indonesian film industry.
However, it is our very, very bad horror and action flicks that they are more acquainted with.
Many of us identify places we have never actually visited from the images we see in movies. Since most of the films shown in theaters here are American, many people think that they know the country very well, often unaware that most of what they see in the films has been adjusted for dramatic purposes.
Some countries are blessed with good filmmakers who are able to make moving pictures that represent the reality, or a close enough approximation, of their nations.
Unfortunately, Indonesia has not yet produced any films that accurately represent the sights and sounds here.
Ironically, the film best qualified to represent the real Indonesia is the Australianmovie The Year of Living Dangerously, available on VCD here, which was directed by renowned filmmaker Peter Weir in 1982.
The film, which won the Academy Award for Best Actress, tells the story of an Australian journalist assigned to Indonesia during the turbulence of 1965. It quite accurately depicts the look and feel of the country, with some inevitable romanticization.
It is not that none of our local movies succeed in portraying the reality of the country, it is just that none of these movies are interesting enough for international film audiences. Also, their poor technical presentation means they fail to meet viewers' expectations of high-quality films.
However, there are many Indonesian movies that do find their way to audiences in the international market. But since these movies are ridiculous and trashy action and horror flicks, should Indonesians be proud or embarrassed?
At the moment, Indonesians must put aside any hope of seeing a film that portrays real life here. We can count the number of movies currently made each year on the fingers of one hand, which was not always the case.
Numerous horror and action flicks were produced during the 1980s and late 1970s, and these are the movies that are still being talked about and looked for on videos by many bad-movie lovers worldwide.
These movies are loved for their total ineptness, which ends up being entertaining. In fact, any of these Indonesian movies could challenge any of Ed Wood Jr.'s films for the title ""The Worst Film Ever Made"".
A browse through the Internet will lead you to numerous Indonesian flicks listed on commercial websites offering trashy, so-bad-it's-good videos. Be alarmed that these websites have names such as
A European website selling exploitation films, Witching Hour Video, even has its own Indonesian flicks section at
One of the most ""well-known"" Indonesian film in the U.S. is a female wrestling flick, Ferocious Freedom Female Fighters, which stars Indonesian action leading man Barry Prima and action queen Eva Arnaz.
The movie, which was originally titled Perempuan-Perempuan Bergairah(Spirited Females), produced in 1982, comes highly recommended on several ""midnight video"" forums on the Internet, thanks to the hilarious redubbing by Troma Films, which has produced such notoriously trashy, violent B-movies asThe Toxic Avenger.
While the movie was originally made in serious fashion here (with acute ineptness), Troma pushes it to the lowest point of stupidity by redubbing it with very dumb dialog that plays for pure laughs.
Another notorious, violent Indonesian flick is the Terminator rip-off Lady Terminator (a.k.a. Nasty Hunter), originally titled Pembalasan Ratu Pantai Selatan (Revenge of the South Seas Queen), which was banned here a few weeks after its release for being too sexy.
Many people here may think that Barry Prima's time as an action superstar has long passed. However, his name is still a guarantee for entertaining, gruesome action flicks for many B-movie fans.
His Jaka Sembung films, internationally known as The Warrior series, about an Indonesian warrior fighting the Dutch has a lot of fans internationally.
Another Indonesian superstar who has won a place in the hearts of certain movie fans is horror queen Suzzanna, who is known for her Sundel Bolong, or Ghost with a Hole series.
Other Indonesian films that are favorites on the Internet are Queen of Black MagicFive Deadly Angels and Mystic in Bali.
While many people outside the country are searching for these titles, Indonesians leave these VCDs untouched on the shelves of many video stores, despite the fact that they are almost always on sale.
Like it or not, they are very bad, but they have their own international fans.