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Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Mystics in Bali

Mystics in Bali
1981 (2007) - Mondo Macabro

I love Mondo Macabro. Unashamedly, unabashedly love 'em. If Mondo Macabro was a woman, she'd be the coolest, most exotic, and probably bisexual chick I'd ever laid eyes on and I would make her mine. At least half the movies released by this label are titles I've never heard of before. No idea what they are, where they came from or how MM unearthed them. Once seen, I wonder how I was able to go so long without them. That's certainly the case with their latest release, the out-there Indonesian horror flick Mystics in Bali.

Ilona Agathe Bastian, in her one and only film appearance, stars as Cathy, an American writer working on a book about black magic.

She travels to Bali to train in the ways of the Leyak (or, as it's alternately spelled, Leak), a form of magic evidently about a zillion times more dangerous and evil than witchcraft, voodoo, hoodoo and everything else put together. Cathy becomes the disciple of the Leyak queen, learns their rites and secrets and learns how to transform into other animals. In return, the Leyak queen occasionally borrows Cathy's head and sends it flying around with entrails dangling like the tail of a kite to drink the blood of newborn babies to restore her youth and beauty. This all culminates in a showdown between good and evil that gets weirder and weirder with every passing second until, as if realizing there's nowhere else to go, the movie just abruptly stops.

OK, so Mystics in Bali is not for everybody. Fair enough. The stilted dubbing is ridiculous, the exotic rites are silly, the cackling old Leyak queen is so far over-the-top she can't even see the ground anymore and the special effects are…well, they must be seen to be believed. I've certainly never seen anyone transform into a pig quite like this before (and believe me, I've seen more than my fair share of human-to-pig transformations). But it's all great fun and wonderfully exotic, steeped in Indonesian beliefs and local color. That disembodied head with the guts hanging out? That's actual Balinese folklore. And I'm sure it would actually be pretty creepy if you didn't see the wire towing it along.

Mondo gives Mystics in Bali a nice new anamorphic transfer that looks generally great. Only the source material trips it up during effects shots like Cathy's head separating from her body. In addition to the trailer, the disc throws in several very informative text-based bonuses. There's an essay about the film and the history of Indonesian exploitation movies, a filmography for director H. Tjut Djalil, and even a step-by-step guide to becoming a Leyak your own self (although Mondo Macabro wisely counsels against delving into the black arts). And what Mondo Macabro disc would be complete without their super-groovy trailer reel.

Mystics in Bali is a must for fans of the outlandish and bizarre. In theory, I guess I can understand why some people might not want to watch a movie where the heroine vomits live mice. But hey... that's your loss.

Film Rating: B+
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B-/B-

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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