Directed by: Bin Bunluerit
Release date: 2002
This film, also known as Demonic Beauty, has a vampire that seems very familiar within it. The Krasue of the title is very like the Penanggalan that we have previously seen in Mystics in Bali and Kapop. Again, like the Penanggalan we have a vampire creature that is the head and intestines of a woman. Like the other Thai vampire the Krassy, who appeared in the Unseeable, the Krasue likes a bit of umbilical cord as a treat but we’ll get to that.
The film draws a story of revenge around us and begins with a battle as the knight Harnsuk fights with other Thai warriors to defeat the Khmer Empire. We see a man taken out in stocks and then beheaded in quite a gory scene. Cutting to a cell we see the Princess Tarawatee (Lakana Wattanawongsiri). She asks of Fajang and is told he has been executed. In flashback we discover that he was a spy in her court before the attack and they had fallen for each other. Harnsuk declared that she was to be his wife and, when he saw Fajang hug her, ordered their executions.
We see a woman in the cells who, at first, thinks the Princess is Daow – a girl from her village. The likeness is stunning and they are of such a close age they might be twins. Even their names both mean star in their own languages. The witch grandmother of the princess comes in and casts a spell that causes a symbol to appear on the Princess’ forehead and the witch to vanish into a flash of light.
In her village, Daow is a generally well liked young lady who is in love with Roong and they are to be married. She is out and about when another man called Teur grabs her hand and is after a little rumpy pumpy. She denies him and he is going to take her forcefully when Roong rescues her. When Teur pulls a knife, things get a little hairy and Daow ends up slicing his face.
Teur goes to his father, who happens to be a black magician, and asks for revenge. His father creates a fetish doll of Daow and causes her to suffer until finally killing her. During this scene we inter-cut with Tarawatee being burnt at the stake – at the height of her agony her head seems to fly off in a haze of green putrescence. We realise that the spell cast by the grandmother was one of immortal life.
The villagers are somewhat taken aback when, during the wake for Daow, she suddenly sits up. Roong and Dueng (her father) are delighted, of course, and try to ignore her slightly odd behaviour. Teur’s father tells his son to leave her be at first and later gives him a wax to try and enchant her. The village girls seem a little wary of her – especially Uey, who happens to love Roong. Round this point we hear that it is commonly believed that an odd little old lady known as old Chan is in reality a ghost.
Of course things are not as they seem. Tarawatee has possessed a dead body and this has caused her to become a krasue. However the possession by the powerful spirit has stopped Daow’s soul from leaving her earthly shell and so is trapped. At night the head detaches and starts its flying around.
Now this is not has destructive as it might first sound. You see for some reason, probably due to the presence of Daow’s soul, the krasue is more interested in livestock. First goats have their intestines eaten out and then a buffalo. Okay, it’s the villagers’ livestock but there are no human casualties. Kind of…
I mentioned the liking of umbilical cords. Well there is a pregnant woman who gives birth. The midwife puts the umbilical into a jar and the head, below the floorboards, reaches out with a long tongue and steals the cord. However, other than that there was no real munching on humans – even a group of children escape when she eats the frogs they have caught.
She does try and frame old Chan. In krasue form she flies past the woman’s shack and generally leads them to believe that the old dear is the danger they face. In human form, and by this point she has woken up with blood round her mouth enough to know what is going on, she joins the torch bearing mob who go to drive the woman out. As it happens a kindly Buddhist priest saves the old woman so no real harm down there.
However, when her father kicks her out – following the umbilical incident, when he actually saw her in krasue form – Teur tries to rape her again and gets a neck full of fang for his trouble. Given that it is down to him and his father that she is dead (and she knows it) there isn’t any real argument that it is a fairly moralistic kill. She fights Teur’s father but it is actually one of his own men who kills him accidentally.
All in all she is not much trouble as a vampire but the villagers want rid and this leads to a mystical battle between her (changed into the form of the grandmother it appeared) and the monk. Flashy lights and such are the order of the day with this…
It is the fact that she isn’t much trouble as a vampire that leads to the biggest problem with the film. It is a little too talky and a little too soap opera – concerned more with gossipy village girls (who all seem to be gorgeous with lots of cleavage showing in their revealing tops, incidentally) than the horror of the krasue.
The effects do let us down occasionally as there is an obvious cgi quality to them but… the krasue/penanggalan is never going to be an easy one to get right. Some of the effects are good, however – there is a fight between flying head and cobra that just worked so well.
Acting all seemed a little whiney but that tied in with the soap opera element and Lakana Wattanawongsiri’s performance underlined this. As Daow things felt too melodramatic and whinging but as Tarawatee she carried a steely quality that belied that and showed us that she could perform.
This isn’t perfect but it is above average as an effort. 5.5 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Directed by: Bin Bunluerit