Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 26th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Philippines, April 27th, 2002
Directors: Oxide Pang Chun, Pisut Praesangeam
Writer: Pisut Praesangeam
Cast: Pimsiree Pimsee, Pramote Seangsorn, Dawan Singha-Wee, Kalyanut Sriboonrueng, Pete Thong-Jeur
DVD released: July 26th, 2005
Approximate running time: 130 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: DTS Thai, Dolby Digital 5.1 Thai, Dolby Digital Surround Thai
DVD Release: Panik House
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Three women sit in a Café and tell each other scary stories.
Legend of the Drum: Jieb an antique dealer is mistakenly given a package that contains a drum that appears to be possessed by a girl named Paga who was murdered and her body was never found. Paga was engaged to marry a musician named Fond. Gnod a deformed outcast has had a crush on Paga since they were children and when he learns of the news he becomes bitter towards Paga. Jieb with the help of a professor friend of hers investigate this mysterious drum and its owner Paga. Will they uncover the truth about what really happened to Paga before her ghost unleashes her wrath? Black Magic Woman: Pan lives next door to a nymphomaniac who one morning tells her about a secret potion that makes any women who wears it irresistible. At a night club Pan tries out the potion on a man in the crowd who follows her home after she leaves from the club. By morning all is not well as the man has fallen ill and his uncontrollably throwing up blood. It doesn’t take long before Pan finds her next victim a young business man while travel on a boat. She doesn’t take kindly when he spurns off her initial advances so she drugs his drink. Pan has found a new aphrodisiac to stimulate her sex only in the end it might be to potent and she might get more then she asked for. Revenge: When a young woman named Gunya is found hanging in an empty warehouse what is believed by most to be a suicide looks a little to suspicious for a Lieutenant named Mr. Nop who believes that Gunya was murdered. Mr. Nop decides to not listen to his superior officer as he continues with his own investigation. Along the way he uncovers several half truths that end up leading nowhere so he decides to take the law into his own hands as he becomes judge, jury and executioner.
The first story “Legend of the Drum” is essentially a love story that spices things up with the beast that is in love with the beauty. Gnod is a deformed man who has loved Paga even since they were children. She has always though of him as her brother and nothing more. This story is broken down into two parts the present and the past which is told in flashbacks. Oddly enough the two lovers from the past also resemble their counterparts in present day. The pacing and editing keep things interesting until the final climax that felt cliché. While the overall story wasn’t that scary I did find myself startled a few times while watching thanks mostly in part to the razor sharp editing and ambient soundtrack. Overall I found “Legend of the Drum” to be the weakest of the three in this anthology. The second story “Black Magic Woman” kinetic camera work is offset by its techno driven score that fits perfectly with the sexual undertones that run through out the story. There are some creepy moments in “Black Magic Woman” like when the two men who work at a morgue violate some of the female corpses. The characters in “Black Magic Woman” are least fleshed out of the three segments which makes it hard to identify with the plight of the lead character Pan. There is just so much going on in this story and overall it is the most entertaining of the three segments. The third story “Revenge” is the most polished of the three segments. The characters are well defined and the story written extremely well as the ending comes totally out of left field. Overall “Revenge” is best story of the three segments and Oxide Pang Chun who directed this segment his work really stands head and shoulders above the other two segments directed by Pisut Praesangeam. While I had no problem with the length of the three segments one could argue that each one could have easily been fleshed out into a feature length film. Overall Bangkok Haunted makes for a great evening of entertainment.
Panik House presents Bangkok Haunted in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves its original 1.78.:1 aspect ratio. The colors are lucid through out as the black levels remain solid as they exhibit an exceptional amount of detail in every frame. Flesh tones look healthy and grain is kept to a minimum. There are no problems with artifacts, compression or edge enhancement. The image remains stable through out as the source used is virtually flawless.
For this DVD release three audio options have been included DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital surround. All three audio tracks are in the films original Thai language. For this review I listened to the DTS which comes with crystal clear dialog and the music & effects sounds evenly mixed as neither ever drowns out the other one. Overall the audio mix is pleasing as it makes full use of the complete sound field with most of the action coming from the center and front speakers. English and Spanish subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
First off Panik House offers the viewers a choice with their bilingual menu’s that can be watched in either English or Spanish. This is an interesting feature that I don’t ever recall seeing on any other release and it is an interesting concept that I hope more companies explore. The DVD comes with an outer sleeve that houses the main DVD. This outer sleeve has a glossier look then the main DVD case which also has the same cover.
Extras for this release include an insert card that has a reproduction of the films poster art and there is also a sticker that comes with this release that looks just like the DVD’s cover art. Trailers for Bangkok Haunted and Omen which is also currently available from Panik House have been included. Other extras include production notes and a poster & still gallery which have been broken up into two sections “Posters & Promotional Art” and “Production Stills”. There two text based extras written by Art Black titled “Cinema Pang: a Pang Brothers Biography” and “Thai Cinema: an Essay”. While experts may know a lot of what is included in these two pieces fans new to Thai cinema and the Pang Brothers will find a lot of useful and informative information. Rounding out the extras is thirty minute making of documentary “Behind the scenes: The Making of Bangkok Haunted”. This documentary contains interviews with all the major cast and crew. It also contains way too many clips from the film that contain spoiler material.
In the world of Asian cinema Panik House entertainment even though they are new kid on the block has already raised the bar with their exceptional audio/video presentations and DVD’s loaded with a wealth of extras. After years of suffering through inferior DVD releases of Bangkok Haunted. Panik House Entertainment gives fans of the film its best home video presentation to date. Bangkok Haunted is a thrill ride that contains three wicked tales about love, obsession and the supernatural, Highly Recommended.