A hearty welcome back to all of you faithful readers of Junkfood Cinema, confused as you may be by the day-late nature of this week’s entry. As you were told in last week’s most excellent entry by Mrs. Junkfood Cinema, Brian is taking some time off in the month of September, so a hand-picked group of Rejects will be keeping the lights on in one of our most prized columns with a series of guest entries. This week, it is my turn. Which meant two things: it gave me the opportunity to introduce our resident Schlocktologist Mr. Salisbury and his ever-bearded compatriot Luke Mullen to one of my own favorite instances of cinematic indigestion, and that the column would be a day late — because that’s how I roll. (In reality, the day late problem occurred due to the fact that I was moving this week and may or may not have misplaced my copy of Lady Terminator in the move.)
Thankfully, I was able to extract my copy of Lady Terminator from the wreckage of my recent move and host a Friday evening that would ultimately be filled with vagina snakes, single-shot Uzis, Bronson Pinchot’s Indonesian doppleganger and the Malaysian Miley Cyrus in the first (and most apt) franchise reboot of James Cameron’s Terminator. This night was about a mostly nude lady on a rampage. First she mates, then she terminates. Either way, she’s going to steal your heart.
What Makes It Bad?
Lady Terminator emerged from the ether in 1988, a product its time in so many horrifying ways. Whether it’s the onslaught of mullet-bearing men who ultimately become unsuspecting victims of an ancient spirit rampaging through the city in the form of a busty anthropologist, or the amusingly silly cars used in one of the film’s two pulse-pounding car chases, this is a movie that screams late 80s like those old photos you keep buried deep, deep, deep in your closet.
On a conceptual level, this movie is aggressive in its pursuit of ultimate disaster. It combines a real Indonesian legend, known as the Legend of the South Sea Queen, with a delightfully oblivious preoccupation with James Cameron’s seminal work of 1984. Littered with dialogue that induces large bursts of laughter (while we recommend drinking during this movie, we must warn that you are at risk of plumes of Pabst Blue Ribbon at any moment during the viewing of this film), it takes the concept of dubbing to a new low. Some of the dialogue doesn’t match with what the actors are saying, even though the film was made in English and re-dubbed by the same cast. A cast that includes Barbara Ann Constable as the sultry anthropologist who ultimately becomes enchanted by an ancient spirit and transforms into the Lady Terminator, who also served as the film’s make-up artist.
But I digress. The question at hand is this: what makes Lady Terminator bad? The answer: everything that happens in every single second of the movie. It’s laughable at every turn. It’s awkwardly assembled plot makes little-t0-no sense at all. And it takes liberally from a movie you love, in ways that are both unexpected and unexpectedly hilarious — for example, there is one hell of a police station infiltration scene in which a leather-clad Lady Terminator takes out Indonesia’s Spesial Sekurity force.
Why I Love It!
I suppose I’m just wired to find endless enjoyment in a movie like this. As you may have picked up from years of reading my various musings on the world of film, I’m not a genre-hound, nor am I a master of the obscure and ridiculous like Mr. Salisbury. I have very few favorites in the genre of the weird. But for some reason, when I first took in a showing of Lady Terminator on the big screen at a 24 Hour Science-Fiction Marathon in Columbus, Ohio several years ago, I was instantly smitten. Cole Abaius and Kevin Carr were there with me, and it was a riotous time had by all at 3am. Not only does Lady Terminator have its fill of badly executed dialogue (and badly executed running and walking, as well), it has plenty of ridiculous explosions and two almost decent car chase sequences. It also includes vagina snakes as a device of evil. The sheer brass that it takes to be so original is worth recognition, if you ask me.
Lady Terminator is also full of some real zingers. “I’m not a lady, I’m an anthropologist,” exclaims the film’s soon-to-be villain as she tracks down the legend of a long-dead vixen with mystical powers and a desire to kill every man in sight mid-coitus. “We’ve seen more dead bodies than you’ve eaten hot dogs, so shut up and eat,” says our film’s hero as he and his hotel-dwelling cop buddies head out to investigate a series of penis-related murders. Where does stuff like this come from? Brilliant minds, I tell you. Brilliant minds.
When the final words of film history are written, somewhere in the liner-notes will exist a special place for films like Lady Terminator. So blissfully unaware of the horrors they inflict upon audiences, so aggressive in their pursuit of machismo-driven entertainment combined with obscure legends of crazy man-hating queens with mystical snakes up their snizz (snizzes?), so full of well-teased hair and Bronson Pinchot’s aforementioned Indonesian cousin who rightfully yells “Fuckin’ A!” in the film’s climactic third act. Fuckin’ A, indeed, my friend. Fuckin’ A!
Junkfood Pairing: Cut Up Hot Dogs
Prepare yourself for the great Junkfood Cinema double entendre. First, there’s that delicious bit of hot dog and homicide-related dialogue that cannot be ignored. Second, there is the method employed by the Lady Terminator early on in her quest to destroy every man in her path: she uses her vagina snake to bite off her mate’s naughty bits. Cut up hot dogs. Get it? For added enjoyment, cover said hot dogs in Ketchup. (Don’t worry, this will all be very funny once you are done throwing up.)