Exploiting Indonesia: From Primitives to Outraged Fugitives


Indonesian exploitation films emerged from a particular political economy of the New Order and its film industry. From Primitif (1979) to Without Mercy (Outraged Fugitive) (1995), about 50 of these exploitation films were produced. Seen within the dominant paradigm of the time, these films were exploitative and contributed nothing to national development or national culture. However, the producers and filmmakers behind these films pioneered new transnational connections as they tried to tap into global film markets and networks. This article explores the historical and structural background to the Indonesian exploitation films, and the aspirations behind their production. By tapping into global film markets, and following genre trends, Indonesian producers hoped to emulate the success of exploitation films globally. By the mid-1990, just as the domestic film market collapsed and the arrival of television, Indonesian film producers had put Indonesia on the map of global cinema. Today Indonesian films of the period have begun to take on cult status as fans and others rediscover this colorful cinematic past.