Thailand’s film industry has been up and running since the early days. The first Thai film was a Hollywood co-production called Miss Suwanna of Siam in 1923. The first all Thai production happened in 1927. The first sound film came in 1932.
For the most part Thai cinema consists of action, romance, drama and musicals. The first horror film didn’t appear until 1958 with Mae Nak Phra Khanong, a classic ghost story that has made into a movie at least 16 times. Other ghost stories include the 1973 Krasue Sao which features two Krasue (ghosts that are just a head and entrails) fighting.
Most of the horror movies from Thailand are ghost stories although the popular Art of the Devil series deals with black magic. The most popular ghost story is Mae Nak Phra Khanong which is believed to based on a true story. Today’s film is the 1999 version of the story, Nang-Nak.
Set in the 1800’s in a rural village a man named Mak and his expecting wife named Nak are happy and in love. Mak is called away to fight in the Siamese-Vietnamese War where he is injured. It takes awhile for him to heal and when he returns to the village he resumes his life with his wife and newborn baby. The villagers inform Mak that his wife died during childbirth and that he is living with a ghost. He doesn’t believe the stories but every time a villager warns him, the ghost of Nak heads out and murders them in the night. Eventually Mak discovers the truth and a monk from a temple is called in to deal with the ghost.
The film is a pretty entertaining ghost story. The theme is similar to the Japanese movie Kuroneko, although this ghost is sticking around out of love not revenge. Another popular ghost is the Krasue. There have been several movies about this freaky apparition including the 2002 film Demonic Beauty.