Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lao Horror Capacity: Scaring the khao peak out of you...

In the course of preparing for DEMONSTRA, I had to look through a lot of our classical folklore and contemporary literature. I now feel confident to say Lao horror can be distinguished by a consistent incorporation of dark humor almost verging on slapstick.

Cinematically, I think a Lao writer could easily have done films like "Re-Animator," "Drag Me to Hell" or "Army of Darkness," but would have had more of a challenge writing "Saw," "Hostel" or "Paranormal Activity." Or "The Human Centipede." I'm not missing saddened by that.

Continuing on that line, I'm on the bubble whether we could have done "The Exorcist." Lao writers from the 20th century and earlier would connect with it as a phi vs. mor phi story, but no one would have done it for fear of inviting malicious spirits to the set.

Based on some of the work of Sery Bounphasaysonh, I think we could definitely take on Twilight Zone scenarios or those akin to Luigi Pirandello. Existentialist or Theater of the Absurd horror might be a little more difficult, such as Sartre's "No Exit," Albee's "The Sandbox," or Ionesco's "Rhinoceros." But  "Rhinoceros" was technically remade recently as "Zombie Strippers," so, given Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay's "Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals," I'd say it's not entirely beyond the realm of possibility.

"I Know What Pretty White Kids With Problems Did Last Summer" could have been done, but would most likely not have been made because most Lao writers would consider that boring. "Those kids should have been helping mom and dad at the shop!" or "Don't these brats have something better to do than getting into drama?"

Obviously, if they'd given us enough foam, latex and decent film equipment for a change, we totally could have gone toe-to-toe with Godzilla. But less boring exposition. "Phaya Nak vs. Mecha-Nyak?" Totally.

Our classical literature doesn't include a lot of stepmom or single parent angst, but a surprising amount of grandma and girlfriend gone bad angst. So, "A Tale of Two Sisters" could have been done, although it would have been more coherent. We'd have had an easier time doing something up there with "Hellboy" or "Pan's Labyrinth."

I'm less certain we could do Hitchcockian horror a la "Psycho" or his more intricate suspense pieces like "Rear Window" or "North by Northwest." We could handle the humor, but the elaborate set-ups and intricate plotting and sense of forensics is an area I think we could all stand a little more practice with.

We can definitely do social satire horror like "Dawn of the Dead" or "Planet of the Apes," based on the historic way Xieng Mieng and certain phi stories and others were used to discretely critique social customs and policies of the time.

We would have had a hell of a fun time with our take on "Predator." With less questionable racial subtext. Would it have been interesting to see 'A covert rescue mission goes awry for a special team of Lao, Hmong, Khmu, Tai Dam, Tahoy and the token falang paramilitary advisor..."

"Final Destination" stories? Definitely.

But X-Files might have been harder because much of the classical audience wouldn't be prone to the usual skepticism that drove the better episodes of the X-files. "Oh, Mulder, of course, the Fluke Man is possible, just ask your Phi Kasu partner...."

But what do you think? Which famous horror films could Lao writers have taken on, and which areas would we have struggled with?

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