Black Magic Terror (1979)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Paul Gaita

When Baedah, daughter of the wealthy village headman, is plagued by horrifying visions on her wedding day, her husband Kohar suspects that black magic is at work. Convinced that the source of the hallucinations is Murna ('70s Indonesian horror queen Suzanna), the poor girl he seduced and then abandoned for Baedah, Kohar rallies a mob to burn down her house and throw her into a ravine. Murna is rescued by a magician, who helps her seek revenge by teaching her the black arts. She then returns to her village and gruesomely kills several of her persecutors, saving Kohar for the last and most hideous death. Satisfied, she plans to take leave of the magician, but the older man has other ideas; having been exiled from the village years before, he plans to use Murna to kill the remaining villagers. Intervention comes in the form of a young Muslim holy man, who pits his faith against the magician's sorcery to save Murna. This Indonesian/Hong Kong co-production largely eschews the western influences that were coming into vogue with Southeast Asian horror and fantasy films of the period, and instead turns inward to regional mythology and superstition to fuel its story line. However, the influence of Hong Kong horror is clearly felt in its grotesque and outlandish special effects, the most eye-popping of which is the death of Kohar; cursed by Murna's spell, the duplicitous groom pulls off his own head in a fountain of gore. The disembodied head then flies about, snapping at villagers before biting a bloody chunk from the headman's arm. Scenes such as this are likely to astound even the most jaded slasher movie fan, and as such, make Queen of Black Magic advisable viewing for some cross-cultural mind expansion. The pulchritudinous Suzanna's other horror-fantasy titles include 1972's Birth in the Tomb and the incredible Snake Woman (1982).