The wellknown Krasue ghost gets a makeover in a new chiller from Transformation Films
Thailand has many ghost tales and among the most popular and scary is Krasue – usually an old woman who morphs into a nocturnal spirit and whose head with the body’s internal organs hanging from it hovers in the air above the ground at night, looking a little like a fireball. She is the ghost that terrifies earthly mortals, eating their livestock and rotting food before returning to her body and appearing as a normal person by day.
Many successful movies about Thailand’s other popular ghost Mae Nak have been made over the last couple of decades, but Krasue seems to have fallen out of favour. Indeed only three projects starring this ghastly ghost have been made this century – “Krasue Valentine” by Yuthlert Sippapak in 2006, Bin Banluerit’s 2016 comedy “Krasue Khrueng Khon” and the erotic horror “Tamnan Krasue” (“Demonic Beauty”) by the same director.
Young actress Phantira stars as Sai
Now Krasue is back with not one but two new movies being released in three weeks. “Sang Krasue” (“Inhuman Kiss”) hits theatres on March 14 followed by “Sisters” on April 4.
For clarity’s, this article deals only with the first. Read about “Sisters” here next week.
“Sang Krasue” is set in a small village during World War II and centres on attractive teenager Sai (Phantira Pipityakorn), who grows up with two boys Jerd (Sapol Assawamunkong) and Noi (Oabnithi Wiwattana warang), who both fall in love with her.
But Sai discovers that she has inherited the curse of Krasue and soon she is transforming into the nocturnal spirit and hunting for fresh flesh and blood. Villagers are terrified by the deaths of their livestock and the Krasue hunt begins, led by veteran ghost hunter Tad (Surasak Wongthai). Jerd joins the hunt, but Noi, who has only recently returned to the village, decides to stand by Sai, despite knowing the horrifying truth.
"Sang Krasue" is set during the World War II in a small village whose residents become terrified by the mysterious death of their livestock and other strange events.
The project was initiated three years ago when Wisit Sasanatieng asked experienced TV-commercial director Sittisiri Mongkolsiri to work on it. “Sang Krasue” is Sittisiri’s first featurelength film, though he also worked on “Last Summer” with other moviemakers.
Sittisiri’s initial reaction was to say no. Unlike the various takes on Mae Nak that had been successfully and profitably turned into movies by Nonzee Nimibutr and Banjong Pisunthanakun, among others, Krasue movies remained trapped in the stereotype of the floating-head ghost who passes on the curse to another young woman by spitting into her drinking water.
But after giving the idea some thought, he decided it would be a challenge to make a film that was better than anything that had gone before.
Veteran actor Surasak Wongthai plays ghost hunter Tad.
That meant redefining the Krasue concept – keeping the essence of Krasue but changing the storyline.
“I don’t think of Krasue as a ghost but a monster,” says the director. “She is a normal person during the day but manifests herself at night as a head trailing the body’s internal organs. We call her a ghost because we define a ghost as a scary thing or spirit. But Krasue is like vampire or werewolf that transforms into something else and goes back to being a normal person later on.”
In “Sang Krasue”, Sai is a young girl, not the traditional old woman, who discovers that she has inherited Krasue blood and can mutate into the monster when darkness falls. She’s also aware that her fellow villagers are scared and will try to kill her. And it is on this turning point in her life that the film focuses – a teenage girl trying to manage her life and love while being hunted.
Even knowing Sai's secret, Noi (Oabnithi) still loves her and helps her to survive the hunt.
Meanwhile her lover knows her secret but still loves her, and is willing to kiss her even though he knows that the Krasue curse can be transmitted through saliva.
“Of course, we all know that it can pass only to a woman, so my idea was what happens if the tainted saliva is transmitted through kissing and it happens to a man, not a woman. And in the film it does affect Noi after they kiss each other,” Sittisiri says.
Because of its scary and disgusting character, humans always think that Krasue is cruel. But in this film, “even a monster has a heart and is somehow more beautiful than she is in human form”, he says.
After Sittisiri created the new story line, he asked director Chookiat Sakveerakul to write the script. The film is set in the war years, far away from Bangkok. There is no electricity and criminals are everywhere.
“It’s not historically correct but a fantasy, so I’ve chosen to focus on the cinematic approach,” he explains. In his version, Krasue is an outsider and considered a threat, but she really is harmless.
“It’s a love story and, as in all love stories, love will win over everything, You don’t have to believe that Krasue is real – it’s just a fantasy tale.”
Sittisiri admits that the love triangle among the three actors and the monster image of Krasue are something like the successful teenage romance “The Twilight Saga”.
“But it’s also different. We see lots of vampire movies, but they’re not all the same,” he points out.
Aware that his idea was risky and that a large budget would be needed for the computer graphics and other visual effects, Sittisiri agreed to work on a pilot project to see whether he and the studio were moving in the same direction.
“After discussing the idea, Transformation gave me a budget to work on a short pilot clip. If it didn’t work or our idea wasn’t what they were after, then we wouldn’t proceed with the project. For the clip, I created my version of Krasue, the way she moves and other details, and they agreed.”
More than a year was spent on the visual effects, which Sittisiri describes as the hardest part of the project.
“We don’t have a real reference, so we went for a jellyfishlike movement for the Krasue while focusing on the right dynamics for the eye and hair movement,” he says.
The director also decided to cast three newcomers instead of superstars.
“It’s harder to convince the audience when they’re watching superstars. Besides, they always have busy working schedules and I wouldn’t have been able to handle that during the shoot. I’m also new too, so it’s better to work with new actors who can give us 100 per cent of their time.”
And obviously Transformation is pleased with the recent, naming Sittisiri codirector with Wisit Sasanatieng on “Oubatikaan” (“Shimmers”), the second Netflix original series coming from Thailand.