I was introduced to ‘Lady Terminator’ by my good friend (and Mondo Exploito founder), Dave. I’ll lay all my cards on the table now (they have topless people on them)… I had never heard of ‘Lady Terminator’ until the day of a much-hyped film swap between Dave and myself finally arrived. He came to my house with a veritable cornucopia of film goodness. It was a testament to the success of the day that we both believed we had received the better end of the deal with the films we received. Dave introduced me to many films that Mondo Exploito lives for and for that I am eternally grateful.
Chief among Dave’s pile of cinematic wonders was H. Tjut Djalil’s Indonesian ‘Terminator’ rip-off, ‘Lady Terminator’. Of everything he brought, it was that which (for whatever reason) attracted me the most. The very concept of a low-rent ‘Terminator’ without the bells and whistles of Cameron’s more lauded inspiration filled me with joy. The fact I hadn’t heard of it made little sense to me. This was the exact sort of film a child in the early 90s would stumble across in their local video store and, entranced by the promise of the cover, beg their parents to let them rent the puffy-cased VHS.
Perhaps it’s for the best that my introduction to this film occurred so recently. I can’t say for certain that I would have truly appreciated the blood-soaked abusrdity as a child. As children tend to do, I would have taken the film at face value, completely glossing over how gloriously ridiculous it was that it featured a anthropological student who has been possessed by an evil queen driving her to kill. I can look at this now and say something intelligent like, ‘hell yeah!’, whereas the childhood me would have said something along the lines of, ‘makes sense to me’.
I’m not sure reviewing this film in any traditional way makes a lot of sense. Many brilliant write-ups already reside elsewhere on the internet. Besides, this is really the sort of film a trash junky will likely love regardless of my attempts to aggrandise it. As mentioned briefly above, the film takes from James Cameron’s pockets without shame and sets out to remake ‘Terminator’ without money. It succeeds partially because it’s so blatant, but primarily because it’s so over-the-top. Once the setup has occurred and our protagonist has been imbued with the need to kill, the film takes off and doesn’t look back.
In order to lure this article into the purview of ‘The Sound of Trash’, I want to discuss an original song that appears in this film by the mysterious ‘Ricky Brothers’. I have scoured the internet looking for some information about who the Ricky Brothers were, but haven’t had a great deal of luck. The score to ‘Lady Terminator’ is the only one to their credit. What I do know from having watched and loved ‘Lady Terminator’ is that with their song, ‘Souls on Fire’, they have lived up the expectations this film commands by ripping off every vaguely popular pop rock hit of the 80s. With heavy and bouncy synth base and subtlety-bereft programmed drums (with a prerequisite amount of reverb), ‘Souls on Fire’ unfolds like every song you ever heard from an 80s action film, but without a personality of its own. It’s ability to exist as nothing other than a pale summation of its influences is beautiful in its own way. What better song to accompany a film that rips off its inspirations so openly? The vocals are perfectly apt. Neither well done or badly done. They peak when they should and ebb away when they should. It’s over the top. Strangely forgettable. Has momentum to burn and ticks the box ‘action movie song’ with a giant red pen. Enjoy it. Forget it. Enjoy it again. Forget it again. Repeat.