The Blood Stream mines the Internet for horror gold so you don’t have to, delivering streamable horror titles never before featured on Dread Central. Occasionally I’ll dredge up something good, maybe even great. To find those gems, I’ll have to sift through a lot of breathtakingly bad cinema. Enjoy!
Not content to be merely weird and campy, Haunting Me (Hor taew tak) is aggressively inane in every possible way, from its grotesque comic book villain to its leading quartet of incessantly shrieking drag queens. Strange and sloppy come standard in Thai comedies, of course, so that’s hardly unexpected.
Far greater sins are a pervasive dullness and patently offensive treatment of sexuality and rape.
In Haunting Me, four middle-aged kathoey — the Thai word for transgendered or otherwise effeminate men, commonly rendered in English as “ladyboys” — run an apartment building. We first meet them in a flashback in which, for reasons unknown, they secretly bury the body of a pretty young woman. Moments later, an obese woman named Pancake — also kathoey — dies from slipping on soap and hitting her head on a toilet.
The proprietors discover the second girl’s corpse and have a chaotic, blaringly loud, Three Stooges freak out. They decide not to call the police, which, okay, sure. Instead they bury her in the back yard, just like the first girl. This proves unwise as both spirits decide to start haunting the place. Wacky, supernatural hijinks — at least in theory — ensue.
To be fair, some of the problems with this movie don’t necessary have anything to do with a lack of artistic integrity. The Netflix transfer is pretty awful. The picture is grainy, there are serious audio sync issues and the subtitling is easily the worst I’ve ever seen. Incomprehensible lines like “Today the second Britney will teach the third Britney what it means by being a shit-ass!” are common.
You can’t even trust that major plot points are being explained properly. It’s kind of important to know there is another, competing apartment complex under construction nearby. But when the smarmy son of the new building’s owner explains that to his friend (and to us) the subtitles have him inviting the friend to “stay in my mother’s apartment” rather than selling him on moving out of this haunted house and into his mother’s fancy new apartment building.
Normally I decry any movie that uses the word “fag” casually, or stereotypically characterizes transgendered or gay people. But foreign movies often get a pass since such things may be ingrained in their culture. This movie was never intended to reach Western audiences. You can tell by all the indecipherable pop culture references. So objectively the movie’s attitude toward transgendered and gay characters may be hideously insensitive but who knows what the norms are in Thailand? Kathoey culture is much more mainstream there than transgendered or even gay culture is here. That’s why I’m uncomfortable imposing my values on a foreign society; maybe this is their version of progressivism.
Nevertheless, while some of the colorful language may be attributable to esoteric idiosyncracies, I can’t tolerate — nobody should tolerate — the treatment of rape as a joke.
At one point Pancake, who has been by turns helping and trying to kill the kathoey house mothers, rescues them from a team of undead kickboxers. With bravado, Pancake leads the ladies to safety but stays behind to deal with the boxers. But – oops! – she apparently didn’t anticipate the boxers would actually attack her. As they close in, the boxers’ puppet master, a wizard named Buckteeth, commands his ghostly servants to gang rape her .
As if that’s not horrifying on its own, the next day Pancake shows up at the apartment building unable to move from all the, you know, GANG RAPING. And what do those zany house moms have to say about Pancake’s sacrifice, her torture and suffering? Something to the effect of, “Wish I had been there too, lucky girl!” What’s even more insane is that at another point in the movie, another rape is shown in a very dark and serious light. How those two scenes can coexist in the same movie is beyond me.
Aside from its insensitivity and general insanity — the finale features muay thai, magic fart breath and giant, rocket-propelled dildos — Haunting Me is simply uninteresting. The ghost revenge plot is a total cliche, despite all its depraved weirdness. None of the characters are likeable and the four leads are interchangeable. Most gags fall flat, though surely the house mothers are well known comic actors in their homeland. The end result is something similar to Ghost Team One, a movie so infuriatingly disappointing I turned it off twenty minutes in. Both movies have a premise ripe for ribald supernatural humor. Both movies utterly fail to deliver the goods.
Don’t watch this movie unless you speak Thai. Even then, proceed with caution. For the rest of you, just watch Ghostbusters again. There’s arguably some non-consensual sex between Dana and Louis, but they’re sharing bodies with Zuul and Vinz Clortho, who are most definitely down to get down.
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