Issue #202            HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES             March 8th, 2004

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Bangkok Haunted
(2001; RS Film/Avant)

"Legend of the Drum" Pimsiree Pimsee "Black Magic Woman"

RATING: 6/10


This Thai horror thriller presents a trio of supernatural stories told by Jieb (Pimsiree Pimsee), Pan (Dawan Singhawee), and Gunya (Kanyanut Sriboonrueng) over drinks in a local pub. To add to the fun, the three young women make themselves the central character in each tale.

First up is Pisuth Praesaengaim's "Legend of the Drum," which is set predominantly in 1917. Promising young dancer Paga (Pimsee, in a second role) shows great compassion towards Gnod, a horribly disfigured villager. The reclusive man is secretly in love with the unsuspecting girl and regularly presents her with lovely, hand-crafted gifts. Paga's father wishes that she be courted by a new man in the troupe and, when the two eventually become engaged, Gnod reacts badly. He and Paga disappear soon afterwards, with the other villagers believing that he has murdered the girl and hidden her body. In the present day, a drum used by Paga's troupe turns up unexpectedly in an antiques shipment and Jieb finds her life disturbed by visions and other ghostly occurrences which suggest that Paga has returned from the beyond.

Praesaengaim also directed "Black Magic Woman" (called "Corpse Oil" in the disc's filmography section), in which sexually frustrated Pan happily accepts her next door neighbor's gift of an aphrodisiac called "Ply Essence." When the liquid is applied, the wearer simply has to touch the person she desires and they will become hopelessly infatuated. What Pan does not realize is that the mixture's prime ingredient is siphoned from the newly dead and has horrible side effects for her instant lovers.

The final story, "Revenge," is from Oxide Pang Shun, who co-directed THE EYE and BANGKOK DANGEROUS (reviewed in issues #130 and #140) with his brother, Danny Pang Fat. When Gunya is found hanged to death, police lieutenant Nop (Pete Thongjeur) is convinced that it was not suicide but murder. Although the coroner backs him up on this, Nop's boss insists that the case is closed. Nop continues the investigation anyway and is threatened with death by the woman's abusive husband. Clues surface in the form of blood samples and a barely legible note to further confirm Nop's theory but he may be mistaken about one vital component of the incident.

Dawan Singhawee "Revenge" Pete Thongjeur

This is a leisurely but moderately engrossing effort that proudly showcases the increasing technical sophistication of Thai cinema. The first two stories are drawn out and somewhat muddled by extensive use of flashbacks and flashforwards, which tend to distance the viewer from the characters (the wrap-up for the framing story may also leave some viewers scratching their heads). In contrast, "Revenge" progresses in a linear fashion that works perfectly well for its police procedural plotline and emerges as the clear winner, offering an especially sharp closing twist. That said, even this story would have benefitted from the removal of five or so minutes. While there are occasional splashes of gore, overt shocks are not on offer. In fact, the film is at its most potent when dramatizing the real-life horror of a coat hanger abortion.


The non-anamorphic 1.66:1 presentation boasts nice hues and good detail. However, occasional, mild blurring and some stuttering during camera pans reveal this to be a flawed PAL conversion. The film is presented with its original Thai audio track in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS; I monitored the former and found it dynamic and enveloping. Four chapters are provided for each story. The main supplementary feature here is a half hour "Making Of..." documentary with the same subtitle options as the feature. Too much time is wasted on clips from the movie but this remains a fairly interesting program, offering interviews with the four principals and both directors. The most interesting anecdote is Pang's revelation that a real body and actual autopsy lab were used during the examination scene in his segment. Interestingly, the principles refer to the first story under a different English title, which I will not mention here as it gives away one of the story's main surprises. Also included are the theatrical trailer, a very short HK TV spot, a small photo gallery, and a handful of filmographies. Unlike the vast majority of HK DVDs, the disc comes in snapper packaging.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Edko. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Region 3 Only
  • Edko Video Ltd #02-EDVD-16
  • Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS
  • Sync Sound Thai Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese
  • 12 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (1.66:1)
  • 130 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Great Britain: 18
  • Hong Kong: IIB
  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • Contains moderate violence and horror


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful