Satan’s Slave – Indonesia, 1980

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Satan’s Slave – original title: Pengabdi Setan (translation: “Devoted to Satan”) – is a 1980 Indonesian horror film directed by Sisworo Gautama Putra (Savage Terror; The Hungry Snake Woman) from a screenplay co-written with Naryono Prayitno and Imam Tantowi for Rapi Films. The movie stars Ruth Pelupessi, W.D. Mochtar and Fachrul Rozy.


A family suffers the death of their mother. Teenage son Tommy begins to receive nightly visits at night from a ghostly woman with opaque eyes. Tommy becomes possessed and so the family seek the help of a fortuneteller…


Pengabdi Setan contains some ethereal nightmare scenes and an overt synth score that elevates it beyond many of the meretricious Asian supernatural movies of its era. Indonesian films were always more delirious than their Hong Kong counterparts and less simplistically Sadean than Japanese movies.

Aside from a brief and suitably tacky disco scene, there are scenes of Jean Rollin-like cinematic poetry, which, combined with some imagery typical of the bluntness of Far East cinema, makes Pengabdi Setan a whole lot more interesting. It’s something of a mess yet the overall result is captivating. A big-haired witch and some odd-looking zombies ensure that the finale is daft yet thoroughly entertaining.


Plus, there is a glorious moment for seasoned global horror fans when a copy of British magazine House of Hammer is glimpsed; it was apparently forbidden in Indonesia at the time.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES & MANIA

Other reviews:

“Another classic example from the Golden Age of Indonesian horror. Despite the bug-eyed appearance of the zombies, I still found the makeup quite convincing. Others might find it ludicrous. Putra, who directed this film and was a frequent collaborator of Suzanna, might be considered a hack by today’s standards, but he excelled in the horror genre.” John L. Vellutini, Monster! Issue 21



“While the melodrama between the horror can be a bit generic, not bad though, the rest is SO good. The use of wide shots, framing of faces and movements reminds me of John Carpenter. It’s stylish and intelligent and downright freaky here and there. I’m not scared of the dark, but these albino-style living deads could f*ck around with my mind if I just wanted it.” Fred Anderson, Schmollywood Babylon

pengabdi setan satan's slave

satan's slave 1982 indonesian poster

Fear Without Frontiers Jay Schneider FAB Press

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