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John’s Horror Corner: Satan’s Slave (1982; aka Pengabdi Setan), a loose and boring Indonesian approach to Phantasm (1979).

April 21, 2019

MY CALL: One of the most boring Asian horror movies I’ve ever seen. You’ll find some borrowed elements from the classic Phantasm (1979), but there is no soul or inspiration to be found in even a single scene. MOVIES LIKE Satan’s Slaves: Not to be confused with the British film Satan’s Slave (1976), perhaps I’d direct you to the pseudo-remake sequel Satan’s Slaves (2017; aka Pengabdi Setan). For more Indonesian horror, consider May the Devil Take You (2018; aka Sebelum Iblis Menjemput) or Kuntilanak (2017; aka Ghost in the Mirror) for something more serious, or Lady Terminator (1989) for a preposterously fun B-movie experience.

Following the loss of their mother, young Tommy is haunted by her restless spirit and Rita prays forgiveness for her soul. After a fortune teller subsequently advises Tommy to protect himself with black magic, he begins acting strangely and Rita begins to worry.

Being an affluent family, they take on a housekeeper (Darmina) to help around the house. But Darmina seems to have nefarious intentions linked to various deaths surrounding the household. It seems that everyone who advises Rita or Tommy about prayer or laying spirits to rest ends up dead!

The special effects are nothing to brag about. The first (and only) passable gory gag doesn’t occur until we’re already an hour deep into this generally boring, slow-paced and weakly-storied film. There’s just nothing exciting here. Nothing. I’m afraid that slow ominous walking and pointing fingers at the living just doesn’t pass muster as menacing so far after the Hammer era. If anything, this film is more unintentionally hokey than it ever is scary… and not even in a so-bad-it’s-good way.

Essentially his loose Indonesian reimagining of Phantasm (1979), director Sisworo Gautama Putra (Perjanjian Dimalam Keramat) takes a casual, even haphazard approach to recreating Don Coscarelli’s unique masterpiece. From funerals and fortune tellers to dirt bikes and demonic spirits, the influence of Phantasm (1979) is readily apparent. But ultimately, this feels like a cheap loose copy lacking the soul behind the source material and often deviating so far into the typical Eastern “evil spirit” subgenre that you’d need to be informed of the Phantasm (1979) parallels to even notice. Had I not read it myself in Wikipedia, I doubt I’d have noticed (and I’m a major fan of the Phantasm franchise).

All told, this movie was boring. My recommendation: don’t watch it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2019 12:06 pm

    That’s a shame. It has some good looks based on the pics and poster.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 2, 2019 1:20 pm

      Yes. And I was REALLY excited to see it after seeing the recent Satan’s Slaves re-quel on Shudder. I also had higher expectations due to the IMDB summary being one sentence calling it “Indonesian Phantasm,” which is very misleading despite some inspiration.

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