H. Tjut Djalil, (aka Jalil Jackson) remains one of the foremost of Indonesian exploitation directors. A former short story writer and maker of documentaries, Djallil made several fantasy/horror films based on Indonesian legend, including the controversial PEMBALASAN RATU PANTAI SELATIN, aka Lady Terminator (1988), banned in its native country due to its infatuation with depicting bizarre rapes and the violation of genital regions. Djalil revealed a similar penchant for perversity in MYSTICS IN BALI aka Leak (1981), a cheaply shot film guaranteed to put backsides in seats at the numerous cinemas throughout its home country and with huge export potential to foreign territories, by cashing in on the western world’s fascination for occult horror flicks in the late 70s and early 80s.
To help generate sales abroad, Australian Ilona Agathe Bastian was cast in the lead, as American anthropologist Cathy Dean, who arrives in Bali to study its folklore. She becomes close friends with Balinese local, Mahendra (Yos Santo) and asks him to help her with research regarding a form of black magic known as Leyak. At first he is reluctant but following a kiss on the lips he agrees. One night in the forests, they encounter the Leyak witch, a cackling old hag with talon-like nails, who agrees to reveal to her the dark secrets of the Leyak. Over the next few weeks Cathy undergoes an inititation process that involves mystical dances and mantras, but when she starts puking up white mice, and finding her face mutating, Cathy decided to renege on the pact. The witch, however, has other ideas, for she needs fresh blood in order to increase her own powers. She claps her hands and Cathy’s head grow fangs, flies off her body, with internal organs attached, and attacks a woman in labour, feasting on the unborn foetus.
Mahendra turns to his uncle (W. D. Mochtar), a learned ‘Balians’/shaman, for help. Consecrated needles are placed into the neck of Cathy’s headless body in order to prevent the head from returning, and at dawn the body dies. The Leyak witch is none too pleased at this and returns to settle the score with Mahendra’s uncle and the scene is set for an occult battle involving phoney cartoon-like magical bolts, flying, a hilarious scene in which the Leyak witch turns into a sow (read actor in pantomime pig suit, with unfeasibly large hooters), before transforming itself into the demon-like figure of Randga.
The film is notable for its inclusion of authentic Balinese mysticism, and lore surrounding the Leyak, and the lycanthropic monstrosity known as the Leak, that can transform itself into a variety of animals, or separate its head from its torso in order to float through the night, whilst its sleeping body remains in bed. Even today the people of Bali consider it fact that the Leyaks are responsible for the majority of misfortune that affects its people. The DVD under review includes a lengthy, un-credited account of “How to become a Leyak” lifted from the official Bali Island website, together with an excellent documentary on Indonesian exploitation films. In short, this latest release from Mondo Macabro is yet another great revelation for fans of low budget horror.
Carl T. Ford
Directed by H. Tjut Djalil
SPECIAL DVD FEATURES
A Mondo Macabro DVD release
All region PAL Stereo
MYSTICS IN BALI (aka Leak)