Luna Maya as queen of horror Suzanna, center, in the upcoming movie 'Suzanna: Bernapas Dalam Kubur.' (Photo courtesy of Soraya Intercine Films)

Indonesia's Queen of Horror Rises From the Dead in 'Bernapas Dalam Kubur'


SEPTEMBER 27, 2018

Jakarta. Suzzanna, the rightful "Queen of Indonesian Horror," passed away in 2008 but her spirit lives on. Suzzanna's (née Martha Frederika van Osch) "beautiful, sexy and deadly" character has been resurrected in the upcoming movie "Suzzanna: Bernapas Dalam Kubur" ("Suzzanna: Still Breathing in the Grave"), starring another mestizo beauty, Luna Maya.

Producer Sunil Soraya from Soraya Intercine Films, which released the last seventeen Suzzanna films, said the new Suzzanna movie is not a remake. The story is totally new though the movie is set in the 1980s and will feature some iconic scenes from the original Suzzanna films that have been reworked.

This includes the classic scene – now the inspiration for many internet memes – from the 1981 horror box-office hit "Sundelbolong" featuring Suzzanna as the titular character, a prostitute ghost-in-distress out for revenge who buys and eats 200 sticks of satay that instantly spill out of a gaping, vagina-like bloody hole on her back.

"Indonesian movie audiences don't want to see something they've already seen before. This is a new script, totally fresh but relatable to Suzzanna's fans," Sunil said in a press conference on Monday (24/09) at the production house's headquarters in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Luna Maya said the central theme of her new movie will be "love and revenge," just like in many of Suzzanna's movies.

In Bernapas Dalam Kubur, Luna's Suzzanna finally gets pregnant after being married for seven years to Satria (Herjunot Ali). One day, when Satria is out of town, robbers broke into their house, killed Suzzanna and buried her body in the backyard.

Of course, the next day Suzzanna rose from the dead to exact bloody revenge on her murderers.

Sunil said he came up with the idea for a new Suzzanna movie five years ago. It took a long time to find an original story for the movie, so production in the end started only two years ago.

Another big challenge was finding the right make-up artists to turn Luna into the spitting image of the late queen of horror.

In the end Sunil decided to work with Peter Gorshenin and Tatiana Melkomova from Russia.

"Peter and Tatiana are very into details. They'd point out if something was off before anyone else. They’re very dedicated to their job," Sunil said.

Bernapas Dalam Kubur ends up being one of the most expensive productions from Soraya Intercine Films, though Sunil refused to reveal the exact number, saying only that creating a realistic 1980s mise-en-scène was very costly.

Also, some scenes had to be reshot because Sunil's original choice to helm the movie, Anggy Umbara, had to be replaced by Rocky Soraya halfway through the production.

"Anggy was replaced because... we just had a different vision for the movie. There was no conflict. Anggy is my friend and we're on good terms," Sunil said.

From left, actor Herjunot Ali, producer Sunil Soraya, actress Luna Maya, director Rocky Soraya and actor Clift Sangra (the real Suzzanna's ex-husband) at a press conference in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Monday (24/09). (JG Photo/Dhania Sarahtika)

The New Suzzanna

On July 18, a still from Bernapas Dalam Kubur was posted on Soraya Intercine Films' Instagram page, and rumors went around that Luna was going to be the new Suzzanna.

Finally announcing that she was the new Suzzanna came as a relief for Luna.

"I was nervous all the time because I had to keep everything under wraps. Whenever anyone asked me if I was the new Suzzanna, I had to say no. When the poster was released last night, after eight months, it was a huge relief," she said.

Sunil said Luna's face bears a striking resemblance to Suzzanna and that was the main reason why she was chosen to revive the horror queen – who began her career as a child actor with a cameo in Usmar Ismail's war movie "Darah dan Doa" ("Blood and Prayer") back in 1950.

"Luna was Rocky's choice. The make-up artists, who also make the prosthetics, said their job was made easier because Luna shares similar facial structures with Suzzanna," Sunil said.

Luna said the all-out make-up did wonders for her confidence in playing Suzanna.

She also researched the late actress' mannerisms – the way she talked, walked and her infamous glare – to make sure her mimicry was perfect.

"My goal was to make people believe that Suzzanna really has come back from the dead," Luna said.

Filming for Bernapas Dalam Kubur took 53 days and each day Luna had to spend three hours in the make-up caravan to put on her prosthetics.

"Each prosthetic could only be worn once for nine hours. Then we threw it away. They were produced in Russia. We had to travel there to get them since they had to be kept in a cool box," Sunil said.

The effort paid off, though. Clift Sangra, Suzzanna’s real-life husband who plays a character named Bekti in the new film, said Luna's likeness on set was uncanny and praised the make-up for being "Hollywood-level."

Clift helped with creating Luna's final look for the movie, sending 200 photos of Suzzanna from different periods in her long career to the make-up artists as references when they were making the prosthetics.

"I’m proud that Suzzanna is on the big screen again. People have been asking me when her movies will be remade. Now it's happening," Clift said.

Bernapas Dalam Kubur will be in cinemas on Nov. 15. It will also star Teuku Wikana, Alex Abbad, Verdi Solaiman, Asri Welas and Opie Kumis.