Sunday, June 07, 2009

Vamp or Not? Headless Hero 2

dvdI can’t really tell you what caught my eye about Headless Hero 2. Certainly it wasn’t because of the first film as I cannot even find a reference to it, if it exists at all, but Phii hua khaat 2 – as it is known in native Thailand – did catch my eye.

It was a horror comedy and, in many respects it was a sub-par version of the more standard Hong Kong horror comedy. Yet it had some interesting elements and the eponymous Headless Hero (Thuarae Cheunyim) – though the name is itself an oxymoron as he was far from a hero. indeed he was the villain of the piece. Yet it is he who is the focus of this ‘Vamp or Not?’

Fueng is scaredThe film begins with Fueng, in a boat, heading towards the Chinese Graveyard. All manner of things seem to be happening that are causing him to become more and more afraid. Eventually he believes he is being stalked by ghosts, but it is just dogs in the woods. He enters the mortuary and a corpse seems to grab him, causing him to wet himself. However it is his friend Fai, manipulating the body and playing a joke.

The two men are looking for coins, but the haul is poor. Fai has found four but Feung has already bet 9 coins, back in the village, that they would find more. Fai decides to raid a tomb and picks one that looks like it belonged to a Chinese Captain. A branch falls, cutting Fueng’s head and opening the tomb. The coffin is bound by cord (in Chinese films that would be a binding spell and seems to be similar here) which they cut. We get a flashback to how the Captain died.

Thuarae Cheunyim as the Headless HeroFueng is told to fish into the corpse’s mouth and retrieve any coin. I couldn’t make out if he bled on the corpse at all, but Fai certainly removes a necklace the corpse was wearing and Leung gets his fingers stuck in his mouth. When he pulls hard the head comes away with his hand. Fai puts the necklace on and we hear sucking. Fueng is reduced to a husk and the corpse retrieves its head.

There is then a manic chase through the woods as Headless Hero (or HH as I will shorten him to) tries to retrieve the necklace from Fai. There is some cool coffin lid surfing through the air and many a loss of his own head offering a comedic aspect to the sequence. Eventually Fai falls in mud and the mud somehow prevents HH from seeing him. Fai gets to a boat and escapes.

the wise man prepers to trap the headless heroThe next day Fai is at a boat race. There is a girl there whom he clearly likes (the daughter of a white bearded wise man) and a couple of men looking for him (presumably debt collectors). The boat race is going ahead when suddenly HH comes barrelling through to win the race. His headless nature is soon revealed and it appears that an eclipse has allowed him to walk in the day. The wise man tells Fai not to give HH the necklace as it will make him immortal and indestructible. He chants a mantra, lassos HH with water, cuts the head of and sticks it in a jar.

Taneth Shimtuam as PongCut through to modern day. Pong (Taneth Shimtuam) is a debt collector’s son who is out collecting debts with the help of his friend Mek (Todsaporn Rottakit). Both youths fancy certain women in town. Pong like boutique owner Ngek (Ubonwan Boonrod), but she doesn’t know he exists. Mek is in love with Paga (Chonthicha Bunruangkhao) but she is also the object of rich boy Sathit. Also in the mix is a transvestite, who works at the boutique, who wants to be known as Marilyn.

Chonthicha Bunruangkhao as PagaMek is the son of Fai, who is now a healer. He married the wise man’s daughter but is not as well versed in magic having abandoned the wise man’s book of magic because his wife died, an accidental victim during a magical battle he once had. He has banned Mek from reading the book; though the son has sneaked looks, enough to get some rudimentary magical knowledge. Mek wears HH’s necklace.

Mek's ghost servantFor some reason Sathit’s father has got hold of the jar that contains HH’s head (but does not know what it contains) and gives it to Paga’s father in an attempt to woo the parents into arranging marriage for his son. To help Pong get an edge with Ngek, Mek takes his friend to the temple mortuary to prepare a love spell. He forgot a knife and they remove one from the chest of a headless corpse (reminiscent of removing the stake). Whilst they leave, and Mek frees a mischievous ghost who then becomes his servant, the headless corpse grabs a rat and rings the blood out of it.

Marilyn's sticky endPong pours the spell onto Marilyn by accident and Mek discovers that Paga and Sathit are to be engaged. He sends the ghost to cause mischief at the party – a long sequence and nothing new after seeing many a Hong Kong movie. They are spotted and hunted by the police, as a result Mek, Pong and Marilyn end up hiding in the mortuary. HH stabs Marilyn through with a bamboo and then sucks her life out. It is interesting that the body, which we have already seen acting independantly of the head, has the ability to suck energy and uses blood - presumably in an osmosis sort of way?

devouring a ghostHe disguises himself by possessing a shop dummy and heads to Paga’s home to retrieve his head. The head itself is fanged now. He is able to suck in other ghosts – eating their essence. However he drinks blood and sucks the life out of humans. At one point it is mentioned that “the more he kills. The more blood he drinks. The more powerful he becomes.” Obviously he wants his necklace back still.

he has fangsHH is referred to as a ghost – but many Thai ghost myths have a vampiric aspect to them. He also regularly loses his head and, as mentioned, can act independently of it. Vampires tend to die after losing their heads but it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Take Club Vampire for instance, an example of heads being able to reattach to bodies within a Western vampire film. He does drink blood, he drains life and he is fanged. His ability to enter daylight is mystical – due to an eclipse, though the logic of that is not fully explored. I would say Vamp.

a cold endingHaving decided that I want to look at his destruction, as it is unusual. A lunar eclipse gives him an immunity to fire as it makes him cold… Thus they need to use cold to destroy him. The resultant scene is reminiscent – to some degree – of the finale of The Entity meets Terminator 2! Certainly different anyway and not an ending one would normally associate with the vampire genre but still I am thinking Vamp. The imdb page is here.

2 comments:

Eric said...

Sound like a blast. I love obscure, farcical horror.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Eric, you can find it via Yes Asia