Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Ratno Timoer, 1984
Starring: Barry Prima, Advent Bangun, Gudi Sintara, Enny Christina

The Devil’s Sword ranks very highly on my list of sword and sorcery movies and might just be in my top five. Words can’t really do it justice, but I’ll try. If you’ve never seen any Indonesian horror/fantasy/exploitation films, you owe it to yourself to do so immediately. Start with Lady Terminator, Mystics in Bali and, of course, The Devil’s Sword

A meteor falls to the Earth and is made into a magical sword by an old man. He hides the sword after learning that it grants unimaginable power. Meanwhile, an evil goddess, the Alligator Queen, is kidnapping young men to fulfill her insatiable sexual appetite and to drain their energy to keep her young. Her henchman, Banyujaga, massacres a village in order to steal the princess’s new husband for the Alligator Queen. The warrior Mandala, once Banyujaga’s companion, vows to defend the village. He rescues the princess and takes her to retrieve her husband, but he must first locate the Devil’s Sword to stand a chance of defeating the Alligator Queen. 

Everything about this is completely insane and out of control. I can’t stress how bad the acting and dialogue are; so bad that they come full circle and help make the film the delightful mess that it is. The characters are constantly abusing one another - for example Banyujaga calls the princess a polluted bitch - and the dubbing makes for an even more surreal experience. There is nonstop violence and fighting, rivers of gore, decapitations and hacked off limbs, as well as an emergency double leg amputation. And lest we not forget about the laser crocodile, the Queen’s crocodile henchmen, unexpected cannibalism, etc. I couldn't even begin to list all the insane things that occur, nor would I want to ruin it for you. 

This isn’t technically a sword and sorcery film, but it borrows from the genre and from Italian sword and sandal movies, as well as from local myth. It just has way more people beating the living hell out of one another. In fact, when people get punched or hacked at with a sword they don’t just stumble or fall backwards, they fly several feet through the air. Star Barry Prima is associated with this loose genre of Indonesian action/exploitation films. Probably his most famous other effort is The Warrior or the amazingly titled Hijacked to Hell. I’m also dying to see Revenge of the Ninja. Co-star Advent Bangun also appears in some of these. 

There is an absolutely wonderful DVD from the great Mondo Macabro. It includes essays by founder Pete Tombs, trailers and an incredibly uncomfortable interview with Barry Prima. The Devil’s Sword comes highly recommended and I can guarantee it is not like anything else you’ve ever seen. Make of that what you will. 

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