Bangkok Haunted

Director: Pisuth Praesaeng-Iam ("Legend of the Drum" and "Black Magic Woman")
                Oxide Pang (" Revenge")
Year: 2002
Starring: Pimsiree Pimsee (Jieb),  Dawan Singha-wee (Pan), Kalyanut Sriboonrueng (Gunya), Pete Thong-juer (Nop)
Time: 2 hrs 10 minutes

A film clearly has to be more than a few memorable images that capture your imagination. I had seen the trailer for this film a few months ago and was knocked out by it – a series of fast moving images of an eyeless woman, a corpse in a morgue blinking, an eerie traditional Thai dance, long razor sharp fingernails searching for a victim, a woman hanging from a rope – that made the film look both exotic and inviting. Unfortunately, after finally having the opportunity to see it the film’s quality does not match those retina-retaining images. The film contains three supernatural tales – all told by three modern women sitting around a table at a Bangkok bar. One problem that the segments all have is they all run a bit long – all over 40 minutes – and feel slightly padded. Another issue is that though I thought all the stories had a definite potential, they somehow fell short of it – either by ending on a lackluster note or simply not making a lot of sense.

The word of mouth on the film has been pretty negative – in fact one web site I came upon had a poll and 87% of the nearly 100 respondents voted that they “hated it”. I can’t quite understand this reaction to the film – perhaps I have suffered through too many Troublesome Night films, but I thought there was a lot to enjoy here. The production standards are high, the cinematography is excellent, the locales are interesting and the stories are intriguing and original even if lacking in scares and finally being disappointing. The first two episodes are directed by Pisuth Praesaeng-Iam while the final one was directed by Oxide Pang.
Legend of the Drum (44 minutes) – Jieb accidentally receives an old drum in a shipment that appears to have an angry history behind it. She begins seeing apparitions and wonders if there is a connection to the drum. The story flashes back to 1917 Bangkok in which a love between a Thai dancer and a musician comes to tragedy – somehow the drum seems to have carried a spirit inside that is looking for something – but exactly what is never made clear.
Corpse Oil (40 minutes) – Pan isn’t having much luck of late with the opposite sex and so when her not so attractive next door neighbor - who seems to have lots of male lovers - tells her that it is due to a love potion, Pan skeptically gives it a go. The results are amazing good – much too good it turns out  - the contents for the potion come from the local morgue and seem to carry all the bitterness of their former owners. Be prepared for a lot of vomiting.
Revenge (45 minutes) – a policeman is sure that an apparent suicide of a young woman by hanging has to be murder – where is the chair – why are there marks of a struggle - and he sets out to find the killer. As he proceeds it becomes clear that the ghost of the woman is helping – or is she? This one had a pretty good plot and a clever ending that I didn’t see coming till the very end and neither did the cop.

My rating for this film: 6.0