Happy fuckin’ New Year, assholes!
We’re slamming straight into the new year, full speed ahead with a peculiar little Indonesian treat, Mystics in Bali.
The 1981 film was originally banned in its home country, but eventually found its way onto some black market VHS tapes. With the 21st century and the internet, word of this fucking weird ass movie spread through the b-movie and cult subculture until it was finally given proper releases.
The movie primarily focuses on the Balinese myth of the Leyak (a.k.a. Penanggalan) which is – get this shit – a flying head with dangling entrails. They fly around and haunt graveyards and stuff and can eat corpses. They can even turn themselves into animals and stuff. What these Leyaks are really super fond of, though, are babies. But they don’t just swoop down and pick up a baby with their entrails and take the baby to some cave or nest or something. Oh no, not at all… They like getting it straight from the tap.
Yes, they hope to find a pregnant woman so they can literally suck the baby from the womb.
Oh, guys… I am gonna see some real shit here in this movie, aren’t I? Oh boy… I suppose we should find out more about the plot. Amazon Prime says: “An American researching a book that takes her to Bali and the black magic cult of Leyak, Cathy meets an evil witch which promises to train her in teh dark arts. Tricked, Cathy is turned into a Pananggalan; a flying vampire with internal organs hanging from her neck.”
The movie immediately brings the crazy imagery as it features a dancing priestess (or what I assume to be some sort of priestess) wearing the mask of a Leyak. That is immediately followed by more masks of various Balinese myths and what not. I will say I’m pleased that zero time is wasted on the opening credits as they take only a brisk two minutes to complete. Afterwards, we meet Cathy who is studying the rituals of Bali. She’s talking to her guide, Mahendra. While most of this is basic exposition to explain that she’s fascinated by this stuff and she’s traveled the world to learn about these cultural practices of black magic, etc., it’s ultimately not terribly important as Mahendra and Cathy spend less time talking about why she’s there than it took for the credits to finish.
Say what you will about these thirty seconds of exposition, you cannot deny Mahendra has a sweet, sweet perm.
When Mahendra takes Cathy to view some rituals set up for tourists, because that is what you did in the 70s and 80s, he tells her about the primitive Leyak magic. Here, we get some basics about how practitioners can turn themselves into animals, and can kill people, and what have you. On the way home, Cathy begs Mahendra to help her research this crazy ass magic. They make out, because I guess…? They don’t realize they are being watched by a woman.
The next day, Cathy and Mahendra are… someplace… and she provides EVEN MORE exposition about why she’s here studying the Leyak magic. If you think it is anything new, it isn’t, and it reads like a 7th grade report. She says she is here and is really interested in learning the black magic arts of the Leyak (something already mentioned in the first scene). She then tells Mahendra about how she studied voodoo and clarifies that is the African art of black magic (something else she said in the first scene). Ultimately, though, she is planning on writing a book about all the black arts (which I’m pretty sure she mentioned in the first scene too).
Guys, I’m beginning to think this movie is written by someone whose first language is not English.
Mahendra warns Cathy that he’s heard that the practices of the Leyak is far more powerful and dangerous than voodoo, but he also admits that its power might be a bit over-exaggerated. Cathy, like a fucking dummy, is obsessed and will not let go of the whole thing. Mahendra is trying to tell her this shit is not to be played with, but she isn’t listening. It doesn’t help that she’s yet to wear a single bra in this movie and is willing to make out with Mahendra. Therefore, he, like a dummy (with a boner), goes along with the whole thing.
The couple goes to a remote part of the jungle to meet with a Leyak Master. It storms suddenly and they see a crazy looking old lady with big long fingernails and an insane cackling laugh. Mehandra says that the laugh is the first warning sign that they are in the presence of a Leyak.
The witch asks why they have come and Cathy explains she wants to learn about the magic of the Leyak. The witch cackles over and over as she talks to the couple. If I were Mahendra and his sweet ass perm, I’d be getting the fuck out of Dodge. This fucking nutcase Cathy and this witch with the melty face can go fuck themselves. No, really, all this chick talks about is learning black magic. Yeah, she’ll kiss you and not wear a bra, and probably even let you touch her boobies, but is all this really worth it? Especially after you meet this witch woman that looks like Wrath of Khan? Nothing good can come of this. Well… Touching boobies is pretty great, but it’s all downhill after that, Mahendra.
The witch tells them to come back tomorrow and she will teach Cathy the black arts. The witch offers her hand to shake on this deal. After she walks away, Cathy sees that she is holding the disembodied hand of the witch. She drops it in fright and it crawls away from her and Mahendra. But it’s not a big deal to Cathy and Mahendra as they just casually walk away like it was nothing.
The next morning, even though it looks like it is still the night they met, the witch meets Cathy and Mahendra as promised. They pay her in gems and blood, like you would for any lesson in black magic. As the first part of the lesson, the witch tells Cathy to take off her skirt. If that isn’t weird enough, the witch uses her tongue to draw a “secret” magical spell on Cathy’s thigh. I… am a fan of these lessons. Even better, lesson #2 for Cathy is to come back the next day wearing a particular type of undergarment.
Did I come up with these lessons???
She was also sent home with a cloth with more images drawn on it. Cathy and Mahendra try to decipher it but it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo to them. Cathy reveals her thigh spell to Mahendra and asks him to try to translate the spell. He just stares at her leg and/or muff like I would when a girl shows me her good stuff – like an idiot. I refuse to believe a man with that sweet of a perm isn’t getting a good look at pussy after pussy on a daily basis. This movie is bullshit.
This scene goes on for a long time. He just stares at her thigh and taco for what feels like fucking forever. She finally tells him that he doesn’t have to try to read anymore. Cathy gets dressed and goes to meet the witch again whose appearance has changed (as she explained to her earlier). I’m guessing the change in appearance is so the makeup effects artist has a chance to show off a bit. Anyway, Cathy is approached by the witch who begins to cackle, because that’s most of her lines, which causes Cathy to inexplicably attempt to cackle herself. I guess crazy, cackling bitch is something you have to nail down if you want to be a Leyak witch. They spend the rest of their time just dancing around in a circle.
The next morning, Cathy tells Mahendra that she will soon be a master of the Leyak. That seems fairly quick. She tells him that at midnight she and the Leyak Master… Oh what the fuck is this business now???
So… I guess Cathy and the witch turned into pigs. Understandably, Mahendra is a bit concerned to learn that her girlfriend is A) about to become a Leyak Master and B) she fucking turned into a goddamn pig. He goes to see his uncle who knows a thing or two about Leyaks and whatnot. He teaches Mahendra how to protect himself from the dark magic.
If things can’t get much worse for Mahendra, his sweet perm, and his piece of ass, Cathy, she tells him she can communicate with the witch telepathically now. Not only that, but he tells her that she is probably responsible for the death of someone because, you see, she apparently told him something about how she had to destroy a fire or something…? (Really, she says she had to destroy a fire.) He said that was representative of a soul being snuffed out. She then gets sick. Mahendra says he’ll get a doctor, but she doesn’t want that. Instead, she’s going to go see the witch again and get fixed by that cackling crazy woman. Mahendra is totally cool with that because… Oh I don’t know.
That night… Oh, COME ON, MOVIE!!! Now what the hell is this shit???
Cathy ate a fucking baby. Through a woman’s vagina. And killed the woman. Or at least messed her up real bad. The holy fuck, man?
However, at least Cathy is now cured of her illness that happened at some point. The witch tells her she will learn more if she’d like, but Cathy says she’s pretty cool with what she’s already learned. I would think that the eating of a baby through a woman’s vaj is probably enough to make you want to give up this Leyak business, but what the hell do I know? The witch says Cathy will never be able to walk away so easily and claims she will still have control over her.
The scene then cuts to Mahendra watching Cathy and a young version of the witch (I guess?) walking around in circles and seemingly staring at him. The two girls lie down and turn into snakes for… reasons.
Man, I don’t know what’s going on here. Cathy walked away from the witch, but now I guess is still being controlled by her like she was when she was the intestine monster? Is the other woman she was with just the witch in a younger form? Is it a different Leyak witch? Goddamn, the Indonesians are weird.
Smash cut to Cathy laying in bed and Mahendra creepily kissing her unconscious form. She wakes up, runs to the bathroom, and throws up a mouse, as you would when you’re kiss raped in your sleep. Mahendra sees this, but just casually asks, “Are you alright?”
No, Mahendra. I don’t think Cathy is alright.
Another scene happens where Cathy is watching two fireballs fighting. One is extinguished and the other turns into the old witch. She says something about how her enemies are defeated and Cathy sees the extinguished fireball turn into a woman. Who this is I couldn’t tell you.
Cathy is now moved into a remote house and Mahendra is called away for his job. After he leaves, a local woman, who just happens to be lurking about Cathy’s place, witnesses her head and entrails flying away. The woman seems to be pretty nonplussed about the sight of a flying head with a buncha guts hanging out from under it. Cathy then wakes up to see the blood in the corners of her mouth and doesn’t seem all that weirded out by that either.
I’m starting to think Indonesia is not a place I’d be too thrilled about visiting. Weird shit happens and no one seems all that concerned about it.
The girl who saw Cathy’s flying head tells Mahendra’s uncle about it and he sits around with his elder buddies. They smoke cigarettes and discuss how there’s evil all over the place. Mahendra’s uncle decides to go meditate and pray on the problem. Meanwhile, the witch, now youthful and hot, appears at Cathy’s place. Despite Cathy saying she’s done with her lessons, the witch now wants payment. She doesn’t want money, she wants “hot, fresh blood”. Cathy says she’ll go and get it tomorrow – like that’s a fucking thing you can do easily. That’s not what the witch really has in mind. Instead, she takes Cathy’s head again and sends it out to get the third life that will ultimately give the witch eternal life.
Mahendra’s uncle comes to Cathy’s place because the movie’s script says so. He finds Cathy’s headless body. When her body approaches her target’s home, she’s repelled by a spell and is scared off by the villagers. At Cathy’s, Mahendra’s uncle sticks toothpicks in Cathy’s body’s neck. Mahendra returns to see the body and his uncle says it’s too late to save Cathy. They watch as the head returns to her body. Mahendra wants to help her, but his uncle says she is just Satan’s prisoner and it is too late. Cathy has to abandon her body when she is unable to remove the toothpick things sticking out of her neck.
The villagers bury Cathy’s body and Mahendra and his uncle pray over her grave to prevent her head from being reunited with the body that will continue to rise until the evil magic is defeated or some such shit. By the way… Cathy is fucking dead now. Our main star and heroine is fucking dead and turned into a demon. No shit. This movie is positing that curiosity has led to this woman’s death and we’re now left with Mahendra as our main hero. A guy who can barely look at a girl’s bikini area without staring blankly like a dumbass. He’s now our movie’s hero.
He does still have that sweet ass perm.
Cathy’s head and the Leyak witch show up at the grave to take on Mahendra and his uncle. Fuck, there is still ten minutes left. If this just turns out to be ten minutes of a couple old people fighting each other with magic and prayer and bad special effects, I’m gonna be really piss…
Oh, who am I kidding? That is exactly what’s going to happen.
Despite Mahendra and his uncle’s best efforts, Cathy’s body rises and is reunited with her head. The witch kills the old man which leads to more cackling, which should be surprising because the old woman has not done that at all. Just as the old witch lunges to attack Mahendra, the girl who ratted out Cathy’s transformation jumps in the way and takes the deathblow. You see, she was Mahendra’s ex-girlfriend who he left to be with Cathy. It’s great we learned this in the final few minutes of the movie. Also, turns out Mahendra has a second uncle who is a super powerful Jedi or something.
Long story short, he kills the witch when she is unable to regain her lost energy to destroy him before the Sun comes up. She melts, the end. I’d go into more detail, but that would be impossible because, and I know this will come as a surprise, the series of events that play out is completely incomprehensible. Oh, and Cathy? She collapses. Mahendra’s other uncle goes over and pulls him up from Cathy’s body and “The End” is placed in front of what looks like is some sort of conversation between him and his uncle.
This shit simply has to be seen to be believed. As an American who is used to, you know, good movies, I cannot make heads or tails of this movie. I suspect there is some general folklore that this entire story is built around. I’m sure there’s supposed to be some sort of morality tale about dabbling in black magic or having to let go of loved ones when they do the wrong thing or something along those lines, but this movie is utter nonsense. It’s a couple transformation scenes and a floating head. Everything in between those scenes are gobbledygook. We’re not even granted any real information on what Leyak magic actually does for the practitioner. We’re just shown weird shit the evil witch does to the good-at-heart-but-I-guess-misguided Cathy. Maybe this movie means something to Southeast Asians, but woof, it’s a weird one.
I’ve seen worse movies that I’ve covered for this blog, but I have not seen a weirder movie. This is an utterly bonkers flick that simply has to be experienced if you like movies that are completely off the wall bananas. Oh, and if you decide that maybe you’d like to see this movie for its plot, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Just watch for the baby sucking stuff and the floating head with the guts. Oh and pig titties. Gotta check out dem pig tittaes.