SUMPAH PONTIANAK (1958)
aka The Vampire’s Curse
Article 5160 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by B. Narayan Rao
Featuring Maria Menado, Mustapha Maarof, Salmah Ahmad
What it is: Exotic strangeness
The residents of a small village have to deal with a series of monsters, including a pontianak, a shape-shifting female vampire.
One of the most interesting aspects of this project of mine is having the chance to visit the cinema of countries that are off the beaten path. This returns me to Singapore; the last movie I saw from there was CURSE OF THE OILY MAN. This one was apparently the third of a trilogy about a pontianak, a shape-shifting flying female vampire. We also encounter an ugly forest zombie and a strange lizard creature before it’s all over. Since the dialogue was in Malay, I can’t claim I that I was able to follow the plot, and the fact that it was the third movie in a trilogy in which I haven’t seen the first two movies further complicates things. Still, it’s fun when the monsters show up, but that really doesn’t happen until the middle of the movie. Until then you get a lot of dull talk broken up by some entertaining musical numbers; the movie is as much a musical as it is a horror movie. The special effects are pretty weak, but for this one, it’s part of the charm. Perhaps the most striking moment for me in the movie had nothing to do with the monsters; it was the final musical number that blew me away, as the musicians tell a song acted out by three dancers who move in such a stiff, jerky fashion that they look like poorly stop-motion animated marionettes, and it was indescribably fascinating. I love taking cinematic adventures like this.