Yet another pile of movies from Indonesia arrived recently and this time out it’s the creepy lil’ film, “Legenda Sundel Bolong”. The cover for this one sold Neko-chan on watchin’ it first…… Hehehehe!!
Ooooh!! Soooo scary!!
So anyway, the synopsis reads as follows: “In a small village in Central Java, many unexplainable things have been happening. Villagers have disappeared suddenly, and then found dead. Imah (Jian Batari), a traditional dancer falls in love with Sarpa (Baim). After marriage, they decided to move to another village to start a new life and away from the terror. Imah stopped her dancing career and Sarpa gets a job working for Danapati (Tio Pakusadewo), as a plantation worker. Their move to the new village has upset the locals since they consider Imah a cheap dancer who has no morals. Danapati goes after Imah and does everything to have her, including sends Sarpa to another town for some work. Danapati forcefully rapes her repeatedly. When Sarpa comes back home, Imah tries to cover up everything that has happened to her. Imah’s new village goes through the same happenings as her old village and even worst. A lot of people are found dead with a hole in their back. The locals start getting tensed and blame each other for the killings. While trying to find the killer, the ghost “Sundel Bolong” (the ghost with the hole on her tummy) appears and creates terror in the village. Will Sarpa ever find out what happened to Imah? What is the connection with the ghost and the killings? What actually happens with the legend of Sundel Bolong?”
Pretty straightforward…. so how does it play out? Lets “Read On” and see…
Well this one is yet another “Long Haired Ghost” tale, this time a version of a particularly Indonesian Folklore flavored variety. Seems if you kill a pregnant girl in that part of the world you are just asking for trouble. You end up with Pontinaks, Langsuars, Phii, Hantu of all types and varieties….and of course, the Sundel Bolong. The Sundel Bolong, roughly translates from Indonesian into “The harlot with a hole”, a type of ghost already well known in Indonesian folklore. Seem it likes to take the form of a beautiful woman who seduces men, and when they fall for her enticing temptations, she kills them and devours their testicles! Ouch!!! The Sundel Bolong seems to be related somehow to the Kuntilanak (who Neko-chan already knows and loves…), who likes to kidnap children and hide them inside a hole in her back! I didn’t see any of that sort of action in “Kuntilanak” but hey….there’s always the sequels, I suppose.
Anyway…..it seems that in Indonesia, Ronggeng dancers are a profession commonly viewed by most
as loose and immoral women much in the way gypsy dancers fill the same genre roll in european folklore. Poor Imah gets mostly nothing but grief from the villagers even while alive, so it’s hard to feel badly for them once she starts killing them off after her death and her rise as the Sundel Bolong…….
I didn’t quite grasp the subplot of the story behind this film, but have since learned that much of this movie’s tension is based in part on it’s setting.
The setting for it is in a remote village of the period of the 1960s, and at this time, the political situation in Indonesian was intense due to the terrorist activities of the Indonesian Communist Party movement and its battles with the government. History records that after a particularly violent incident on September 30th, 1965 in which seven high ranking military officials were murdered, the PKI was found to be responsible. This eventually resulted in mass murder of millions of people throughout in Indonesia, sometimes done merely out of prejudice, suspicion, or slander. (See…. horror movies can be educational!!)
But don’t worry. I didn’t know any of this stuff when I first watched it, and it isn’t really necessary for you to either if all you want is a bit of gory fun….. Your Catgirl Princess cringed at first when I first figured out where this film was headed… I figured for certain that I was in for another Indonesian lesson in how all women are evil…… but no. Imah is portrayed as a very pitiful woman who doesn’t deserve the sort of treatment she gets, and once she gets going on the whole revenge path, there’s no stopping her or getting in her way.
Eventually, the locals do that weird thing that happens in all Malay or Indonesian films like this. They sort of do the whole “village mob with farm implements go on a hike” thingee, chanting all the Islamic prayers they can manage. It doesn’t actually appear to do anything, but they always seem to do it anyways…… I guess it’s traditional.
The story for this one seems….well…a bit choppy. Given that I’m ignorant of a lot of the history and folklore, I still think that it seemed to be missing some stuff in a couple of places. Still, it has enough gore for me, and a satisfying bit of supernatural revenge to keep my interest. It’s not a great film, but it’s an adequate one. Neko gives it a 3 “Meows” out of 5, but it isn’t another “Kuntilanak”….
I couldn’t find a Trailer for it, but when I do, I’ll link it in so you can see it for yourself….“Meow, meow for now”!