måndag 21 maj 2012

Phra Aphai Mani (พระอภัยมณี, 1966)

MitrChaibancha was undoubtedly THE biggest movie star Thailand ever had, and during thosefifteen years he was active in the movie biz he starred in 266 movies (165 ofthem together with female superstar Petchara Chaowarat). He died during atragic accident during the shooting of Insee Thong in 1966 and has since thenelevated from not just a movie star, but almost a holy man. Still people aretraveling to his shrine in Pattaya to show their gratitude, put flowers and incensefor good luck and look at the magnificent statue of him posing with a knife anda gun. I've been there of course, what else did you think?

Phra AphaiMani is based a part of Sunthorn Phu's epic poem with the same name and tellsthe story of Kramon (Chaibancha) who after studying abroad is stranded on anisland together with his brother and their friends. He starts playing his fluteduring the night a female giant, Yak, with the teeth of a wild boar, hears himand falls in love instantly! She sneaks up to the island and kidnaps him to hersecret island, keeping him prisoner inside a mountain. To make him moreattracted to her she transform herself to a beautiful young woman (PetcharaChaowarat) and seduces him. Life there is quite nice and soon she's pregnantand gets a son. But after a few years Kramon starts missing his family againand with the help of his young son he escapes... but Yak won't let him go soeasy!

Phra AphaiMani is one of the cheapest fantasy movies I've seen. It's not a surprise. IfChaibancha made 266 movies in fifteen years I guess not all of them would looklike Ben-Hur! It starts of quite good with the lady giant kidnapping him, butafter that it's mostly talk for an hour until they escapes and there's a littlebit of adventure and then more talk and talk and talk. I guess it would be moreentertaining if there was subs, as usual. But it sure has it's highlights. Ireally adore the cinematography, clothes and actors - even if the only excitingprint is in pretty bad shape. Both the pre-credits and probably some scenes inthe middle of the movie is lost for example and the print has a lot of damagesand scratches. But it's amazing of Triple X, as the Thai company is called, tohave released this! s

When thereis action it's fun and cheesy, with unconvincing - but charming - specialeffects. The Yak is, for example, destroying a big boat and drowning theseamen, which looks cool. But the best thing is that this is probably the firsttime underwater-zombies made an appearance on film! Yeah, what we have here areliving dead guys with skeleton faces and looks like they're dressed in burialshrouds! Very cool!

It's niceto look at and has cool actors and underwater zombies, but Phra Aphai Manidrags a little bit too much without subtitles for me to recommend it to folkswho hasn't that extreme interest in odd genre movies. It's out on a very niceDVD in Thailandand I've also scanned the other side of the cover to show you the gorgeousposter they printed there.