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Review The Queen of Black Magic a.k.a. Ratu ilmu hitam (1981): A real blast!

genre: horror, drama

When I watched the 2019 version of The Queen of Black Magic, I wasn't aware that it was a remake. In the film, you get to see several scenes of the original in the background. I did wonder what that was about. And I finally got to watch it. I must say, that it was a real treat, and it genuinely surprised me by how entertaining it was.

So one thing you have to keep in mind. The premise might be similar in both titles. The execution of the story couldn't be more different. The remake is a demonstration of how to properly build up tension and dread. Yes, it also resorts to blood and gore but in a very controlled manner. The original on the other hand doesn't skip a beat when it comes to excess. Whenever it gets the chance to be nasty, it will embrace it.  Who is at the helm of this terror? Murni played by Suzzanna. This was my first introduction to her and a very pleasant one I might add. Apparently, she was known as The Queen of Indonesian horror. Not hard to imagine why that was. She is a scene stealer. Not to mention quite beautiful. She is definitely the heart of this film. And I honestly can say, that if her role was played by someone else, it simply wouldn't have the same impact.

That being said, for people expecting serious horror, you won't get that here. I mean, Suzzanna and Teddy Purba do give events the gravity they deserve. But some sequences undoubtedly will come across as cheesy and campy. Still, for me these sequences were easily the highlights of the film since they were very creative and imaginative. They are also super bloody and gory. For the most part, we are on Murni's side. She got accused of having performed black magic to sabotage the wedding of her ex lover, played by Alan Nuary. Naturally, she is innocent, but she is thrown from a cliff without any trial. Fortunately, she is caught by a wizard, who is not entirely truthful about his motives. But she encourages her to take revenge on the villagers and the ex lover. By learning black magic. It's not clear, how much time has passed. Let's just say she becomes a queen pretty quickly. And this if where the real fun begins. Murni is not really a villain, she is pretty forgiving and kind-hearted but due to heavy manipulation from the wizard she can't see right from wrong until she meets the character played by Teddy Purba.

Overall, the original is a real blast from start to end and definitely a must-watch for horror fans.

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