View Full Version : Thai capsule review: PEE THUAY KAEW

Mike T
12-14-2004, 12:17 PM

Directed by Chluay Srirattana
Starring Aphiladee Phavaphutanon, Nutchathida Dumrongvisetphanit, Suchart Hadsign, Piyathida Penjinda, Triyut Kingkaan, Nuttathiluk Phongsan, Anon Suwannakher, Punna Suphanwong
Mangpong/Scorpion DVD (Thailand), Region 0 PAL, 90m

Prangtip forfeits her job when her superior (also the clandestine father of her child) suggests she terminate her pregnancy, as well as closes off all ties with her. After deciding to keep the child, she and a small group of friends engage a seance in a deserted house in a village on the outskirts of Bangkok. When the Ouija board spells out the name of her unborn child, "Rinlanee", she gets the jitters...until her friends reveal they pranked her. Rinlanee is born, and all goes well until she reaches the age of seven. Then bad things start happening; Rin goes off the rails at school, causing serious harm to her classmates...Prang's pediatrician suffers a heart attack after she visits him with Rin...close friend Ying is electrocuted...and Rin doesn't really take a keen interest in her mother's new boyfriend, Ake. Could the house have been not-so-deserted? Worse still, could Rin be channelling the spirit of something malevolent?

Sounds good ya? Well, though it's not totally tedious PEE THUAY KAEW (the latest in a long run of digital video features released straight to DVD in Thailand) is a fairly rudimentary entry in the Asian ghost stakes. Thai ghost movies are quite unlike their Hong Kong, Korean and Japanese counterparts in that they seldom offer much by way of out and out scares, or indeed anything resembling dramatic tension, but they usually manage to engender a pleasant urban/rural Thai atmospheric. Herein, there's only really one bonafide scare, and a plethora of spooky faces suddenly appearing in the background or shadowy silhouettes zipping past the camera in the foreground while the action takes place in the mid-ground. Not really all that scary, and paced rather routinely that the moderately brief duration ends up lagging a bit towards the final act. The tyke who plays Rinlanee may annoy many viewers profoundly as her dramatic range seems to not stretch much beyond a creepy scowl to signify her possession. A passable exercise that plays out much akin to many of those "true ghost story" recreations we all see too frequently on commercial TV these days. Oh yeah, director Srirattana at least keeps his camera moving (with crane shots, tracking passes and some editing pizzazz) so the movie has some "film-like" qualities and avoids the completely boredom inducing TV-styled static shots that are usually de-rigeur with DV/DTV features. If you need a score card (a notion I loathe) then this one rates a middling five out of ten.

DVD: A decent, clean and stable image presented 4:3 letterboxed. Whites bloom and contrasts are a sight for sore eyes, per the digital video source. Overall, a fair to good image (free of colour bleed, motion artifacting and other glitches bar a couple of tape drop-outs). Audio is Thai Dolby 5.1, but remains largely front centric and there's reasonably error free English subtitles for those of us that can't speak Thai. A video trailer is the only extra.

NB: Is packaged in a slim-line "mini-case" (not much larger than the average CD jewel case)

Mike T
12-14-2004, 12:32 PM

Director & Cast unavailable (due to my inability to read Thai!)
Onpa DVD (Thailand), Region 3 PAL, 98m

Former university professor and archaeologist, Prof. Laphin, traverses the wilds of Thailand, Burma, and surrounding regions hunting for artifacts of notice and tribal relics. Whilst on the border of Thailand he and his hunting party stumble across a small forest village whose residents all appear to have been slaughtered by wild animals, and a gibbering man clutching a small wooden idol. Before departing the jungle a chance meeting with a local tribesman forewarns them of the dangers of the idol, feared animal spirit the Kong Koy, and he offers them a cloth talisman to circumvent harm. Once home in Bangkok, Laphin recounts the tale to his daughter Yoyo and her friends. Unable to help himself, Joe pilfers the idol. Post exams, and approaching Yoyo's birthday, friends Dome, Yik, Dan and Palm coverge at Joe's parents' house for a graduation party come birthday celebration. Tis a great pity that, unbeknownst of the idol's power, Joe removes the talisman...

Coming from low budget Thai production house Right Beyond, THE BEAST takes a wonderful opportunity in the legend of the Kong Koy, a small ape-like animal spirit with bear-like claws and a taste for soul-swallowing and human entrails, and pisses it away in one of the most interminably boring folk-tale horrors I've yet seen. Essentially, for the first 65 minutes of screen time...nothing happens! The Kong Koy is hinted at, some Thai folklore is expounded, and six (admittedly attractive) Thai teenagers party at Mum & Dad's with lots of beer and bad 80s music ("Footloose" or "Bed of Roses" anyone?). The three girls are amazingly cute, and the guys all prerequisite pretty boys...but absolutely nothing of interest happens. Then, when you've nearly fallen asleep out of boredom, the Kong Koy (a man in a pantomine gorilla costume) shows up to do damage on wires, suck souls and gobble up some guts in the film's only redeeming moments. Otherwise, as with a good deal of Right Beyond's product, this is a stinker through and through. Trust me, I'm the first guy to let quality slide when filmmakers combine pretty Thai girls in hot pants and tanktops, folklore and stodgy CG and dime-store FX...but this one is just so abominable it almost put me to sleep before the monster showed up. Indulge at your own peril... :p

DVD: Per the idiom of the medium, complete rubbish gets a sterling transfer! 16x9 anamorphic image (1.78) is crisp, clean and virtually free of all the usual bugbears, notwithstanding the limitations of the DV source material. Audio is Thai Dolby 5.1, which is nicely atmospheric and effective in parts, and there are Thai and English subtitles provided (the English subs do suffer some dodgy grammar and translation, and some passages of dialogue go unsubbed). Only extras are attractions trailers for other Right Beyond DV cheapies House Of Haunted and Sea Of The Dead (which I can see myself buying out of my inherent insanity...:()

Living proof not to judge a book (or in this case, a DVD) by its cover.

Mike T
12-15-2004, 06:21 AM

Cast & Director unavailable (once again, it's that language thing...:()
Onpa DVD (Thailand), Region 3 PAL, 90m

Property developer Paitoon pulls a Mel Gibson and buys small coastal island Hua Hin with designs on restoring the local traditional housing as a tourist resort. Young traditional flutist Krai, while waiting on his percussionist partner Duen to arrive, has a brief fling with Paitoon's foxy daughter Grace. Meanwhile, Paitoon's maid Pornlar keeps seeing ghosts everywhere she turns...could the island be haunted? Well...duh! It would seem the island is the resting ground of Krai's past life lover Piang, who risked her status as a noblewoman to follow her heart and chase after a lowly musician. When Paitoon's guests arrive to enjoy a performance of traditional Thai music (inclusive of the eponymous Nang Kruan), the sky clouds over, the sun disappears, and Piang and her phalanx of ghostly aides come looking for revenge...

Luckily, this one isn't as bad as the above THE BEAST, but it's not trailing that far behind it! Location work is pleasing on the eye, though the flat video photography sucks it of anything resembling vibrancy. After threatening to go nowhere very, very slowly the narrative picks up around the mid-way mark and engenders a couple of evocatively shot moments; largely though it's all a pretty mundane affair. Piang's ghost is achieved through digital colour manipulation (subtracting all colour from her natural brown skintone) and there's some enjoyably cheap CG to be had too. And what is it about movie characters (or screenwriters) and magic circles plus warnings to stay within them while the spooks flock around? Some goose always has to do a runner, don't they? A couple of extra points off for the absolute WORST miming to a music track by so-called "musicians" I've ever seen; it's patentedly obvious there are no musicians onboard, and none of the cast seems to harbour a clue how to mime (maybe Right Beyond didn't have time to train them over the weekend they shot this one?). Generally fairly middle of the road, but a handful of moments and some Thai mysticism keep it watchable...just. Though, in retrospect, I wouldn't be surprised if many switch off at the half hour mark... :p

DVD: A 16x9 anamorphic transfer that doesn't hold up near as well as the above film - image is consistently soft, shadows are a palid grey and some of the stock storm footage plays out window-boxed in the 16x9 frame! Audio, Thai Dolby 5.1, is on par with the above title (which I failed to mention sports some really bad location direct sound...thrill to that background noise!) and once again Thai and English subtitles that are a tad clumsy as well as fleetingly absent on a couple of occasions. Extras come in the shape of video trailers for The Beast and Love Of Sinner.

Mike T
12-16-2004, 10:33 AM

Director & Cast unavailable (though I have put out the call to Right Beyond!)
DSI DVD (Thailand), Region 3 PAL, 96m

Mali is sold into marriage when her mother dies and she is unable to pay out the family debt to the local nobleman. This pains her lover, buff local fisherman Khun, but what's he to do when social class and a similar debt stand in his way from doing anything about it? Attempts to bully Khun, by the nobleman's henchmen, gets them nigh but a lesson in smackdown, and he's given free reign to fish where he likes...but his heart still pines for Mali. Mali endures much brutish sex from her new husband, but dreams of escape and spirits love letters to Khun through her serving maid. Confrontation eventually arises, and Khun and Mali make like seagulls and get the flock outta there. In turn, whilst in hiding, they shack up with Khun's old buddy Sak, for whom Mali quickly makes goo-goo eyes...moreso when Khun is lost at sea in a storm.

Essentially a (very) small scale cash-in on Ong-Art Singlumpong's far superior THE SIN (http://www.eyeswidescreen.com/www/index.php?page=show_review.php&id=1100), LOVE OF SINNER is simply a bland reworking of similar themes with none of the skin, sizzle or charm of its progenitor. The lead actresses are quite lovely, but both possess little in the way of acting skills, and the leading man, though possessive of a bodybuilder's physique, would come off second best if emoting with a block of wood. Though the film utilises some of the same locations as THE SIN, it ends up being little more than mundane soap opera against a backdrop of eye catching vistas. Don't be fooled by that title, as it's a reference to the Buddhist ideals of sin and karmic retribution. This is idle, flaccid pap disguised as steamy melodrama (at least, it is from the advertising) and rates a modest entertainment value a notch below THE WHISPER SPOOKY.

DVD: Being yet another DV feature, we have yet again another 16x9 anamorphic transfer that is moderately pleasing (though watch those nights scenes for pixelisation akin to VCD!). Thai Dolby 5.1, that is largely used for ambience and once again suffers the same poor direct location sound as the above titles - Thai and English subs that once again suffer from lacklustre grammar and infrequent disappearance. Extras are relegated to attractions trailers for THE BEAST and THE WHISPER SPOOKY.