Friday, November 10, 2006

Vamp or not? Kapop


Kapop is a 2002 Thai film that, as it has no imdb page, I will struggle giving details of a director or stars. Incidentally I have no idea what the name means or where it comes from.

The film itself is little more than a parade of very beautiful half naked Thai girls having simulated sex and a rather seedy sub-story of a teacher, Mr Chan, having his way with one of his students, Ling, in order to allow her to pass an examination and go on a field trip. It is ostensibly a horror movie, though there is little room for too much story with all the simulated sex and I have to say the subtitling was horrible, with direct translation which didn’t scan (or make too much sense often) that had glaring typos. The acting seemed atrocious but, as the best sound was in Chinese, all the dialogue was dubbed – the Thai soundtrack was of a really poor quality.

The film begins with a sex scene, between (we later discover) Ling and fellow student Man Gwan. This cuts, with no explanation, to another scene with a girl, we later discover to be Yik Yu and an unnamed man. During their sport two masked man come up and kill her lover and begin to rape her. The men die, having cried out something about a ghost, and an old woman appears. She announces that she is ghost (that is how the subtitle reads) and tells her that she will get into Yik Yu’s body and she (Yik Yu) must finish it. Then we have a longer, but in the main identical, scene with Man Gwan and Ling.

The Mayor and police of a village have found eaten men and, the audience having established that the students are going on a field trip (to the village) a victimwithout Ling as her exam results are not good (she has to remain back one day and service Mr Chan in order to go), we cut to an outdoor movie near the village. The mayor’s daughter, Nga Wha, and Yik Yu go to the film. Yik Yu goes off with the owner of the film to his van. There is more sex (she looks very bored) then we see him scream.

A debate between the police, the men of the village and the mayor concentrates on what could be eating these men. A ghost is suggested and someone else mentions that it might be an afreet. This is ridiculed, as they only eat carrion, until one of the men states that his grandfather told him that afreet can sleep with men and attack the living.

note how her face is lit upThe students arrive and, that night, one of them makes a date with Yik Yu. After more sex he is pulled away by Man Gwan as the girl is a ghost. All we see is that her hair has started flying out in a breeze and her face is lit up.

The next night Mr Chan and Ling pull up outside the village. He wants more sex and has Ling tie him up. She is behind the car Mr Chan and Lingputting on a satin nightie when Yik Yu approaches him. They escape but we finally see Yik Yu in her monstrous glory and this is why I am writing a Vamp or Not? Yik Yu, in some very poor effects it has to be said, has become a floating head with her guts hanging down. Though not mentioned this is the physical appearance of a type of Malaysian vampire called the penanggalan.

It's behind youThe Vampire Encyclopedia has this to say about the penanggalan: “A dreadful Malaysian vampire, one of the most unique in the world because it flies about at night with only a head and neck, its intestines dangling beneath them. The creature is always female…”

Now the look of the creature is right though the normal feeding pattern is to suck the blood from children or women in labour – although it will target men. That said the only body of a victim we see (Mr Chan, who gets his come-uppance) doesn’t look that chewed up and is covered in blood – the reference to eating might have been a result of bad subtitling. The myth also states that the organs glow and this is certainly replicated in the film. Certainly its ghostly origins are not mentioned in the myths nor is it in any way related to the afreet (which is actually an Arabic fire spirit of the djinn order). Again the names could have come from bad translation for the subtitling.

One addition to its repertoire of powers, that Kapop adds, is the ability to posses other women, in this case Nga Wha – though whether that was for plot sake or just an excuse to have a further half naked girl in the film I cannot say. The way the creature is dealt with is out with the myth also. trying to bite but held backIn the myth they are held by sharp thorns from the jeruju and dealt with when the sun rises, the time when the penanggalan is vulnerable. In this Man Gwan has sex (of course he does, with the fantastic lines of - him: I love you - her: I love you too, shall we have sex? – I paraphrase) with the possessed Nga Wha and, when she turns he manages to hold her back until she passes out. In a rather bad ending they hug, him assuming that she is safe, the music turns nasty and she gives an evil look over his shoulder, a subtitle thanks us for watching.

Not a great film by any stretch of the imagination but, given the look of the creature, I’d have to say a definite vampire movie of the order penanggalan. Thus, despite the poor effects and virtually non-existent story, there has to be a tad of kudos offered, after all how often does one see a penanggalan depicted?

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