CONTENT WARNING: THIS MOVIE USES SEXUAL ASSAULT AS A PLOT POINT AND ALSO, SEPARATELY, A GAG
I want you to know that there are times when I go above and beyond for this blog. Netflix has the Oh My Ghost films, a Thailand horror/comedy series starring a group of aging kathoeys–kind of like drag queens, kind of like trans women, kind of a third gender option… Similar to “baklâ” in the Philippines, which I talked about in the ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh post. But I wasn’t satisfied with those films, because there’s a piece missing. Oh My Ghost is marketed as the first of four films, but it’s actually the second of something like six. The first is Haunting Me, AKA Hor Taew Tak, translated to something like Taew’s Dormitory is Broken. But Netflix doesn’t have Hor Taew Tak, so I spent far too much time searching before finding it on AsianCrush. Let’s hope that’s a trustworthy website, cause we’re continuing Pride Month by taking about haunted ladyboys from Thailand!
Real quick, the translation I watched was really inconsistent on pronouns, sometimes calling the same character “he” and “she” in the same scene. I’m going to refer to the main characters as “she” because the mainest of characters, Taew, is constantly correcting people who call her “Dad” or “brother.”
The first half of the movie is basically Scooby-Doo! level slapstick. Pancake is a kathoey who slips on a bar of soap and dies, so now her ghost is haunting a boys’ dormitory run by another kathoey, Taew. Taew and her fellow older kathoeys try to keep the male students from moving out while dealing with the ghosts that are causing all sorts of chaos. Oh yes, there are more than one ghost. While Pancake is comedic, the ghost of a young girl named Num Ning is more of a vengeful spirit. But how did she die? Last chance to avoid reading about sexual assault…
See, Num Ning was the girlfriend of Taew’s son, Khoy. She was tricked by another boy into entering his room–being told Khoy was there–where she was gang raped. The incident was recorded as blackmail, and Num Ning fell to her death while trying to steal the tape away. But wait! That’s not all! The lead rapist’s father is a sorcerer of some kind, referred to as Buckteeth because of his, well, buck teeth, and he is trying to silence Num Ning’s ghost to protect his son. Before this leads to a final showdown, one of his methods involves summoning the ghosts of boxers who I guess died at the dojo he runs. While we don’t see it happen, Pancake gets gang raped by the boxers. But it’s okay! This one was supposed to be a funny rape! It’s… not really all that funny.
Anyway, Buckteeth tries to kill Khoy and destroy the ghost of Num Ning, but Taew and the kathoeys show up in some fierce drag costumes to kick some ass. After a sorcerer battle, Buckteeth is dead but the ghosts of Num Ning and Pancake are seemingly destroyed as well. Buckteeth’s son and accomplices are arrested, and the dorm is purified by Buddhist monks. Then another body falls into the middle of the courtyard, because there are something like 5 more films in this franchise. Don’t expect me to get to them immediately.
I want to leave room for cultural differences, but it’s weird to have gang rape be both a comedic moment as well as a dramatic beat. The seemingly biggest difference is who it happens to: A cis girl? Tragic. A kathoey? Hilarious. It’s a weird comedy, to be sure. Before things get (semi) serious, there are numerous chase scenes straight out of a Scooby-Doo! cartoon, and I feel like those were intentional. One bizarre and extended sequence happens when two male farmers with sheep find the dorm and decide to camp out for the night. Their interactions are filled with homoerotic overtones, which gets called out directly when Taew references Brokeback Mountain. Oh, and their sheep are actually goats. The crux of the scene is when the two men go into their tent for the night, and we see the silhouettes of exaggerated sexual acts involving all three of them. Wait, three? Let’s count off: one man says one, the other says two, and the ghost of Pancake says yeah, there’s only two of us. This goes on longer than you would anticipate.
Also, little thing, but the movie is entirely in Thai, but Buckteeth’s chanting at the end of the film had some English in it that I picked up on. I think the gag was supposed to be him saying utter nonsense, but a part I recognized involved the phrases, “what the hell, Anck-Su-Namun.” Weird reference to 1999’s The Mummy, but sure, why not. Considering I’ve seen all the Mummy movies (as part of an event called Mummy Mondays, in case you weren’t aware) and took the time and effort to find this obscure Thai film, I can’t help but feel like that was written for me.
I don’t know if I can really recommend this film. Maybe there’s a reason why Netflix has all the sequels and not this one. I guess I’ll find out when I eventually get to the rest of the Oh My Ghost films!
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