Time for another trip to Malaysia for this wee Catgirl as we take a peek this time out at yet another Malay vampire horror offering, “Paku: Bila Cinta Menjadi Seram”. In this one we get tragically doomed romance… shamanism and black magic… and a much more scary look at their local vampire, the Pontianak than our last few Malay films have given us. Always a good thing in this lady’s book… 😉
The synopsis goes like this: “Loving young couple, Fahmi and Raina seem to have it all. A tender romantic life together and a cute daughter they both love. Tragically, disaster strikes while Raina is pregnant with their second child and she gets crushed to death inside their car during the disastrous collapse of their apartment building one fateful day. Unable to live without her, Fahmi does the most desperate thing he could think of, to try and bring her back to life with the help of a shaman in violation of all the laws of Allah that they might be together. But… Raina is not a human anymore… now she is a blood hungry Pontianak… and only Evil can come from her continued existence in the Mortal world.”
Yep. Definitely sounds like my kind of movie. Think it might also be yours, Gentle Visitor? Wanna know more about the creepy goings-on? Then, by goodness, you know what comes next… 😉
This one is a minor little film, and one I almost missed picking up when it became available in Malaysia. You see, there was another recent Malay horror film also titled “Paku” that came out on DVD just a wee bit ago, and sadly… it was one of the one that made an appearance without the usual English subtitles most Malay DVD’s have. Given that… I almost passed this one up, only figuring out it was an entirely different film while trying in vain to hunt down subtitles to that first one. Luckily… I say almost…
This version of “Paku” came to me along with a few other recent Malay discs and was…. surprisingly… hard subbed into English. Hard subbed? Yep, I kid you not. It’s the way some of these from Malay DVD distributor, Golden Satellite Distribution, seem to come. Weird…. given that they were never really intended for export outside of Malaysia, but instead produced for domestic audiences that should only need the Malay audio track and I would think would find those un-removeable subtitles in a foreign language just downright annoying. But what the heck do I know…. maybe there’s a sizable chunk of Malays that don’t speak Malaysian. (Pssst! Gentle Visitors… feel free to educate a curious kitten on this subject. C’mon… chime in and let me know!! 😉 )
Anyhoo… this one gets going as we get introduced to Fahmi and Raina (played by Johan Asari and Aisha Ilias respectively), a young couple who are locked in the throws of loving bliss with a sweet little daughter and another child on the way. They seem to have it all… Until tragedy strikes and shatters that happy existence forever.
One day… with the help of some CGI effects… their apartment building suffers a catastrophic collapse while they are just outside in their car. Fahmi manages to escape and save his daughter Sophie just in the nick of time… but poor Raina gets trapped by a sticky seat-belt and is crushed along with the car right before their horrified eyes.
She dies at hospital and Fahmi goes to pieces. Despite his wise old father’s assurances that all things are part of Allah’s plan… that Raina will be at her reward in Heaven, Fahmi can’t let her go. His obsession traps her spirit between worlds and pretty soon it isn’t long before he’s dead set on bringing her back from beyond the grave so they can go back to their happy marriage together once more. Ummm…. yeah…. somehow you just know that’s not gonna go well.
Eventually he isolates himself from his traumatized daughter, sending her to live with his parents while he works his grief out… but in reality, he just wants the secrecy to work with a shaman guy to effect Raina’s return. Yep… this guy is more than willing to use the powers of Black Sorcery to first let Fahmi chat with the spirit of his wife by enticing her to possess the body of his best buddy… all the while making the surprising attempt to tell Fahmi just how wrong and evil all this stuff is. Yep… he’s a pretty strange practitioner of the Dark Arts, alright. Naturally Fahmi still can’t let it all go, so of course that leads the shaman to decide that to make everything work for Fahmi, they’ll need to dig up Raina’s corpse, pound a big ol’ coffin nail through the top of her head, sacrifice her lil’ pet bunny rabbit, and transform her into a Pontianak. Yep… that oughta fix things.
Mind you… our shaman still keeps telling Fahmi that this is about the most evil thing he could do to be with Raina, so I can’t really figure out why he did it, being so darn dead set against such evil stuff. Must be a “Black Sorcerers Union” rule or something…. Oh well… at least now we’re gonna get some vampire action. 😉
By day… Raina seems all normal and pretty and loving…. the perfect wife he remembers. But… once night falls, Raina gets…. well… all freaky. She starts prowling the night, hunting down her loving hubby’s enemies from work… the ones so darn pissed that Fahmi seems to have become his company’s “golden boy” practically overnight. Little do they dream it’s all because of some supernatural rule that says the master of a Pontianak becomes lucky in all his business dealings. Stupidly… they enlist their own evil shaman to slap some witchcraft curse on Fahmi, only to have vampire Raina swoop in and whack their shaman and send his curse after them instead. Yep Karma’s a bitch…. Too bad Fahmi’s also gonna have to pay for his own bad Karma before everything is over and done.
This is… unfortunately the part of the film that is at it’s weakest. I mean… who did Fahmi think he was gonna fool when he just starts living his life again with the wife everybody knows died horribly in that apartment collapse? There’s some goofy plot stuff where Fahmi sticks a wig on Raina and insists to people that this new Raina isn’t that Raina. That they don’t look that much alike… but all that stuff is pretty darn stupid and shouldn’t have fooled anybody. I mean what the heck did he think he was going to tell his parents… or his daughter for that matter… when they dropped by to see how he was coping. About the only people it does seem to fool are the idiots at his office, and I’m here to tell you, they had to be pretty thick for that to happen. Oh well… let’s not let a little thing like common sense get in the way of our vampire fun….. 😉
OK, OK… now having a bloodthirsty vampire bride has to eventually bite you in the ass (No pun intended…. Ok… maybe a little pun intended… 😉 ) and as our film reaches it’s climax, Raina starts having problems maintaining her pretense of being human. She gives birth to their child…. which sorta freaks the shaman guy out a bit given she’s a dead woman after all… and so they employ a nanny to help with things. Yep… you guessed it. The nanny starts figuring out not all is kosher with her new mistress and pretty soon all heck breaks loose. Shaman guy makes his dramatic appearance… tells Fahmi that Raina is a tortured soul and that he must agree to send her spirit to Hell to end the horror he has unleashed. Yep… it’s too late for that and vampire Raina goes all crazy ass on him before he can work the appropriate spell to end things. Awww crap, right?
Luckily for us, Fahmi’s dad seems to be somewhat more than just a very moral old guy. He’s got some Holy scriptures that let him open a big ol’ crack to Hell so that Raina can be sucked down along with the demon baby to eternal damnation saving Fahmi and Sophie just in the nick of time.
Yep. That’s pretty much it. Not the most satisfying ending, but at least it neatly sews up our somewhat spurious plot all in around 90 minutes.
So what’s the overall verdict? Well… “Paku” honestly isn’t the most coherent or sensible story I’ve seen out of Malaysia and some of it required your Favorite Catgirl to dial up her personal “Suspension of Disbelief” meter to seriously questionable levels with only dubious success at best. Still… I did enjoy the romantic stuff between our leads Johan Asari and Aisha Ilias. They make a cute couple. They just really do, and maybe it’s my own need to go all soft and gooshy about romance and love of late, but for me this part of the film worked. The effects weren’t bad either… and have to say it was certainly nice to get a Malay Pontianak film that didn’t treat it’s monster as fodder for comedy for once. That leaves me feeling perhaps a bit more generous than I might otherwise be.
With that I can let this one squeak from 2 to 3 “Meows” out of 5. Not a great film, certainly flawed in some very basic ways, but better than many I’ve seen out of Malaysia of late. The DVD? Disappointingly hard subbed into English as I’ve mentioned, but hey… at least it’s subtitled at all, unlike that other “Paku” film I mistook this one for initially. On the plus side… it’s a cheap one for movie nite at right around 8-9$ US and as always… that’s greatly appreciated here at “La Casa De Neko”…. But… in reality it’s probably not a disc I’d expect many of you Gentle Visitors to want to rush right out and grab a copy of. That’s just how it is…. 🙂
What’s that? The Trailer, you ask? But of course!! 😉
My guess on the language issue is that since (a) Malaysia has 137 dialects and (b) English is the second-most-spoken language in the country (source for both: Wikipedia), they hard-sub things in English for folks who don’t speak actual Malaysian, in the same way that Nollywood produces exclusively English-language movies in order to get around the Nigerian/Ghanian dialect problem.
Ah ha… Thanks a bunch!! I knew somebody would have an answer for this question. 😀
Hmmmm? Haven’t actually had a look at any Nigerian films, but it’s nice to know they are English friendly should I find any. (About the only Nigerian experience I have is the odd spam comment here at the Litterbox trying to trick me into some sort of crazy Nigerian bank scam…. never a good thing.)
Well..Hello there! I just stumble upon your site while searching for something scary during this wonderful Halloween and I just love that we have a lot in common (in some aspects)
Since I had mostly read your summaries on the horror section,it’s time to move to my own country’s horror film production.I’ve known most of them from the local advertisement but I’m not really bothered to watch them since there’s too much of this horror/ghost movies coming out in the recent years.
I suppose I can give my opinion on your question that involving the English hard sub. (Yes opinion,because I’m not really an up to date girl who likes to watch/read all those local entertainment stuff.I’m more of an otaku girl who likes to spend my time in front of the laptop or reading bunch of comic book.Yup,that me)
1.Well it’s true what Robert said about the dialects.We have TONS of dialects here but I don’t really think that the dialects are really such a big problem since almost everyone that speaks different dialects understands standard Malay.I think the hard sub is prepared for the other races here.More specifically for the Chinese and Indians.(We have various races here too but the Malay,Chinese and Indians takes the majority) Most of them understood Malay but some of them especially the ones whom study in the Chinese/Tamil/Catholic schools (It’s schools which uses Chinese/Tamil/English as the auxiliary language instead of Malay in all other school) can only understood them a bit.Except if their parent uses ,Malay as one of the language to communicate at home or they’re surrounded by Malay community.(I can never imagine how they pass their Malay language test).But you have to admit that learning different languages is difficult.I have a few friend like this and it’s quite difficult to communicate if they’re not good in both Malay and English.It was like a mime show when we have a conversation.Haha
2.I think it’s also for those..you know the elite (/insert sarcasm here) rich people who thinks that their national language is old style and whatnot and only teaches their children other languages and stuff thus their children not knowing how to speak malay.LOL
3.Lastly,I think they put in the subtitles because they thought that even though they’re not planning to launch it internationally,but with internet and other sources this high tech era have..I think they want to attract attention from other countries folk (like you) who find the movie interesting and buy/watch it (since it has sub) and they can tell their friends if it’s interesting.I would say it’s a very good way to advertise the film.
Nice to hear from another Malay movie fan! This wee lady appreciates all the information she can get… it’s really hard to learn these things without either chatting with helpful vsitors like yourself or lil’ ol’ me actually getting a chance to travel to the faraway places in the movies I watch.
I definitely agree that having the English subtitles available makes the films so much more accessable to strangers like myself. I was so dissapointed when the Thai distributors for their own domestic DVD’s started ommiting them. Up to that point I had been quite the fan of Thai film, but haven’t seen many of late unless they recieved release in HK or Malaysia. Thank goodness Malaysia sees the value in including them on their own movies and most other releases there.
Yeah,I know what you’re feeling.It’s sad and disappointing when you’re interested to watch this foreign movie but no sub is available.But,if you have any questions about Malaysian’s movie culture and so on,I can gladly tell my own opinion and knowledge it,though,I don’t have a wordpress account.You can just comment here and I’ll reply it when I check my email. (Yeah right,if I even check my email.LOL)
Why thank you for your kind offer… there are lots of elements in Malay films that fly right over my head and make me go “Huh?”. 😉
Learning some of the folklore is always fun for me.
Huge Pontianak fan here (that sounds weird) – live finding Malay/Indo/Singapore movies with miss Pon or Kunti. Only thing is I can’t alwaus watch with English subs online and I can’t get them on dvd since I live in UK. Grateful for your reviews!
Nice to have another fan of these drop by and say “Hi!” 🙂
Yep… these can be hard to catch online with subs, but luckily they are relatively cheap to buy direct from either Indonesia or Malaysia on DVD with English subs already included on the disc. They usually run right around 6-8$ US dollars (4.5 to 6.5 GBP) and standard shipping is pretty budget friendly too. Another great source is Ebay or Amazon Marketplace where many can turn up for sale. But… you have to reeeaally be a fan to want to go to that kind of trouble. Kinda like a certain horror movie obsessed Catgirl… 😉
I’m glad you didn’t mind me commenting 🙂 Well, I found one store online but it ended up quite pricey…couldn’t find anything at ebay or amazon! I’d prefer used dvds but couldn’t find those either. Maybe I’m just useless at searching xD If you have any links to stores you could pm me somehow, let me know 🙂 ❤
No worries! I’m always happy to chat with one of my Gentle Visitors! 🙂
Hmmmm? Let’s see… Your best bet might be zoommovie.com, a Malay DVD store. DVD prices there are pretty inexpensive and they have a nice selection of Malay, Indonesian, and even Thai films with English subtitles. Shipping isn’t terrible by standard postal service. About the only problem is that they tend to have many of the older discs they list as unavailable once you try to get them. That’s because they don’t actually have them in stock, but source them once they get an order. Problem is… DVD’s sell out in Malaysia quickly once released and then don’t get re-issued.
On Ebay you’ll probably need to search for actual titles rather than just a broad genre search. There are one or two good member stores I use that are pretty darn reliable, but they tend to stock only the odd film here and there.
If all ease fails, and there’s a film you really want to see, give me the title and I’ll see if I can’t find a source for it. I’m pretty good at tracking these goofy films down. 😉
I was looking at that site! Oh wow that’s crazy about them finding them per order, haha! got some through a site called wanita eventually! So excited to get them. I ordered
Beranak Dalam Kubur
Momok The Movie
Nasi Tangas (Nasi Kangkang)
Misteri Bisikan Pontianak and Terowongan Casablanca 🙂
Been looking for Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam 1 & 2 for years…also interested in the one we’re commenting on! Aw thankyou, that’s super sweet of you!
Wanita wasn’t a bad choice, I originally picked up “Suster Ngesot” there. However, they haven’t offered anything new DVD wise in a while so I haven’t been back to them since.
“Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam 1 & 2” are actually available on YouTube (and still are… I just checked… ;)…) I’ve never been able to find DVD’s for either of them after years and years of searching. 2008’s “Susuk” is also there with English subtitles if you haven’t seen it yet. There are tons of others too… but they come and go rather quickly.
Ooh I saw that one and was thinking of buying it! Maybe next time.
Ah its not just me who can’t find those 2 then! I saw them on yt but couldn’t find eng subs. I did watch Susuk last night thanks to you though – it was cool, thanks for the recommendation!
I think I might just start doing reviews. Been thinking of it for a while but you’ve inspired me 🙂 I love this blog!
Why thank you April! I so love having one of my Gentle Visitors take the time to chat with me about these goofy movies I love so much. 🙂
And you’ve inspired me to take a peek at Youtube again, which I hadn’t been doing for a while. So darn many films make there way there when I am frustrated trying to find a copy of the DVD. I only wish there was some way to find subtitles easier..
Writing Reviews can be fun, and I always like hearing from people when they discover a film they might otherwise have missed from reading one of mine. Makes my whole day. 🙂
watch my channel on youtube coffeeHolic Dreams for Malay movies with eng subs.. 🙂
Why thank you for peeping in… always on the lookout for a new source of the crazy Asian horror goodies this wee lady loves soooo much! 🙂