Barbara Anne Constable (aka Lady Terminator) in August 2010 with her kids, husband and Andrew Leavold
by Andrew Leavold
[originally published in Rave Magazine 03/08/10]
“First she mates…then she terminates!” the posters screamed outside New York City’s fleapit cinemas back in 1988, and for once it wasn’t just some Z film producer’s huckster hyperbole. One can only imagine the 42nd Street crowd’s reaction to bizarre Indonesian splatter-sci-fi Lady Terminator, with the plot of Arnie’s first Terminator grafted onto a supernatural horror tale of a South Seas Queen possessing an ‘American’ anthropologist.
Gorgeous, big-haired Barbara Anne Constable plays both Tania and the Queen’s unstoppable killing machine, mowing down hundreds of innocent bystanders with her AK-47, while - in an unexpected riff on the original Terminator - fornicating like a banshee. Breathtakingly surreal, hyper-sleazy and violent in equal doses, and crammed with one over-the-top action setpiece after another, the film is about as loopy as Asian exploitation gets.
London-born Barbara grew up a professional dancer in Australia whose leg injury took her to Hong Kong and into the world of modeling and fashion reporting. After a chance audition for an Indonesian film company, Barbara was offered the lead role in a local Terminator ripoff: no acting experience necessary, but physical endurance was a plus. The film’s cartoon-like Indian producer Ram Soraya “met me at the airport and held up a big wad of cash in US dollars to the customs officials when I arrived. So that set the scene.”
Without warning, Barbara was plunged into the Wild West chaos of Indonesian B-filmmaking. “Everybody were smoking joints on the set, people were off their nuts! I don’t know how they got anything done.” Barbara was expected to perform her own stunts, and as a dancer that didn’t pose a problem. Even so, her pain threshold was pushed to its limits. “I had so many near misses, like half car bodies flying and missing me by two centimetres! I nearly got killed so many times during that film…” After three grueling months of clinging onto car bonnets and being burnt by bullet squibs (“serious, second-degree burns!”), the final shot was Barbara kicking through a glass door. “The glass should have shattered into small pieces. It was a real pane of effing glass!”
Her ankle was skewered by a long shard of glass, just scraping past her Achilles tendon. Production was shut down for a month – with Barbara on full wages – while a military hospital stitched her up and she regained the ability to walk. “Then I shot that last scene, the candy glass broke the way it was supposed to, and we wrapped.
“Ram Soraya called me a couple of years later and said, ‘We want you to do a comedy.’ I said no. ‘I’ll pay you double?’ ‘No, I’m not coming back. I’ll never get out otherwise!’”
Barbara accepted her role –and her fate – as Lady Terminator, on the understanding that the film would never be screened outside Indonesia. Two years later, Ram Soraya sent Barbara a Betamax copy – and a press clipping the New York Times. “I was like, ‘You’re fucking kidding me?’ I was mortified.” Even more disturbing was the ‘possession scene’, in which a brutally primitive CGI snake slithers its way into her – ahem – bikini bottoms.
“They wanted me to fall onto a bed. I was tied up, and they wanted me to look like I was possessed. That was the scene. They didn’t say, ‘Afterwards we’re going to put this friggin’ snake thing that goes up your vagina…’!”
Is Barbara still mortified, I wanted to know. “I’ve seen it since with friends over a few drinks, and just laughed all the way through it. It’s a crack-up! People were like, ‘That’s YOU? That’s weird!’ I know!”
Barbara Anne Constable introduces Lady Terminator at Tribal Theatre on Friday 6th August, followed by a Q&A with Trash Video’s Andrew Leavold
Thanks to Andrew for letting me post this interview (and also BIG thanks for the super cool news he brought me today. News about a certain VHS. More on that later!).
For the original posting of this interview go HERE.