WTFW: Mystics In Bali

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WTFW: Mystics In Bali

“Mystics In Bali” is a 1981 Indonesian horror film directed by H. Tjut Djalil and based on the novel "Leák Ngakak" by Putra Mada.  The original Indonesian title is "Mistik" or "Leyak", but the film is also known as "Leák" in some territories and "Balinese Mystic" in Australia.

Information on the original novel is non existent as is a photo of Putra Mada, or atleast a photo of someone with that name old enough to have published a novel in 1978.

The film revolves around the Balinese mythology of the leyak (penanggalan) and was originally banned in Indonesia. Nevertheless, pirated copies found their way onto VHS first locally and then internationally.  This was first true Indonesian horror film aimed at a western audience.


Mystics in Bali (1981)

  • Original Title: Leák
  • Genre: Fantasy – Horror – Thriller
  • Directed: H. Tjut Djalil
  • Produced:
    • Sri Gunawan 
    • Hendry Katili 
    • Yan Senjaya 
    • Abdul Muis Sofian 
    • Harry Susanto
  • Written:
    • Putra Mada (Novel "Leák Ngakak") 
    • Jimmy Atmaja (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Ilona Agathe Bastian, Yos Santo, Sofia WD, W.D.Mochtar
  • Music: Gatot Sudarto
  • Cinematography: Kasdullah
  • Editing: Djuki Paimin
  • Studio:
    • Pusat Perusahaan Film 
    • Video Tape Corp.
  • Distributed:
    • Mondo Macabro  
    • Sony Video Software International
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date:
    • 1981 (Indonesia)  
    • 1989 (USA)
  • Running Time: 86 minutes
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Language: Indonesian

This region-specific horror film from Indonesia is one of the most infamous genre efforts to emerge from that land. The story represents a unique combination of Western horror film structure and Eastern lore: the plot focuses on Cathy (Ilona Agathe Bastian), a young writer who travels to Bali to study the local black magic rites for a book she is writing.  Unfortunately, the witch (Sofia W.D.) who trains her transforms Cathy into a vampiric slave who dines on the villagers as a part of a plan for the witch to attain immortality.  Mahendra (Yos Santo), a local who has fallen for Cathy, enlists the help of the local holy men to stop the witch, leading to a war between the forces of good and evil magic.  Along the way, viewers are treated to a variety of bizarre sights that directly reference Indonesian legends, including a woman transforming into a pig and a severed head that flies around with its body's internal organs attached.

The film eventually gained cult status amongst horror fans worldwide; particularly after the proliferation of the internet where many reviews of it appeared prior to any DVD release.

The film received a DVD release by Mondo Macabro in 2003 but has since been deleted.  Mondo Macabro released a new edition in 2007 that featured a new HD transfer from the original negative.

The film was featured on as part of an entertaining video series about strange and weird cinema - it was discussed along with the Shaw Brothers' Heaven & Hell and the Filipino film Killing Of Satan, under the title International Buffet (2008) and Cinemassacre's Monster Madness (2010).

Director H. Tjut Djalil continued to blend Eastern and Western horror elements in later, even wilder efforts like Lady Terminator and Dangerous Seductress.

Taglines attached to various releases of this film:

She sold her soul to possess the secrets of black magic... (Mondo Macabro USA DVD release)

The true Story of an AUSTRALIA girl who learn the mysticen of LEAK BALI. (Bali). The tremendous mysticen of LEAK Bali, is always feared the people of Bali ever and ever. [sic]

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