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Friday, August 13, 2021

Mnusy hmapa (1987)

... aka: มนุษย์หมาป่า
... aka: จิ้งจอกผีสิง
... aka: Haunted Fox
... aka: Jing Jork Phee Sing
... aka: Manut mapa
... aka: Werewolf
... aka: Wolf

Directed by:
Sommai Khamsorn

It's hard to pass up a movie with a poster this good... even if said movie is only available in Thai. Oh well, this isn't my first no subs rodeo and it certainly won't be my last, so herrrrrrrre we go... 

Sompon (Sorapong Chatree) leads a small group of treasure hunters; two women (including Chutima Kawinla, who runs around for most of the movie wearing denim cut-offs) and seven other men (including Pao Porapak), through the woods. They run across a group of bandits and a machine gun stand-off ensues. Though they're able to fight the thieves off, four of Sompon's group get shot and killed. The remaining six, who don't seem the least bit bothered by half their group just getting murdered and are seen laughing and joking in the very next scene, venture on. Meanwhile, an entirely different and sleazier group of treasure hunters are also headed in the same general direction and run across the bandits themselves. There's another shoot-out and more people end up dead, including several blown up by a grenade. In case you're keeping score here, that's three separate groups of characters we've been introduced to that we're supposed to keep tabs on in the first ten minutes... but that's not the end of it!








We next meet a fourth group of people at a nearby village. It's being controlled by Mae No (Mallika Sombatcharoen), an evil, powerful witch with black fingernails, a hunchback and a big pointy chin that looks sculpted out of Playdough. Mae No can appear and disappear at will, transform into a normal-looking younger woman, has a glittery sleepwear ensemble that looks like she just stepped out of some Bollywood musical and keeps tabs on the two groups of treasure hunters using a crystal ball. The village leader (Phairoj Jaising, wearing a fake mustache and a ridiculous blonde wig), his beautiful daughter Pailin (Neeranuch Atiporn), his hard-headed son Aisa (Lak Apichat) and everyone else are at the mercy of the witch, who has coerced them into doing her bidding. While most of the villagers don't seem to mind at all, Pailin is miserable having to be involved in the witch's schemes.

Sompon and his group duck into a cave to spend the night, but are woken up by the incessant sound of a wolf howling. Soon, a bunch of bloody, googly-eyed ghost-zombies pop out of caskets and come after them, but they all disappear when a couple of people in the group take off their clothes (?!) Sompon runs into Pailin in the woods and it's revealed that he's already met her on a previous expedition to the area. He's hoping the two can now have some kind of relationship, but she feigns disinterest, walks off and then beats the shit out of a guy who tries to harass her in the woods.









While he's meditating, a "wolf" (black dog) sneaks into the cave, shoots red lasers into Sompon's eyes and transforms him into a heavy-breathing, growling werewolf. He makes his presence known to the villagers and mesmerizes Pailin by shooting lasers into her eyes and then leads her through the woods back to the cave. So I previously mentioned the poster but you may want to compare the awesome-looking werewolf monster on it to what the film ACTUALLY delivers...









So, yeah, quite the bait-and-switch we got going on here! This also includes one of the worst werewolf transformation scenes of all time where Chatree gets large patches of fur glued to his face in between poorly-executed jump cuts. The finished teddy-bear-lookin' creature is far worse than what most special effects artists were coming up with 50 years earlier. Speaking of bait-and-switch, despite the fact the original Thai title translates to "Werewolf" (the poster just calls it "Wolf"), Sompon is only in werewolf form for about five minutes of the movie and doesn't even kill anyone as a wolfman!

We eventually meet back up with the second group of treasure hunters, who chase Sompon (who has since had his werewolf affliction healed by prayer) and friends out of the cave, which is a blessing in disguise for them as the zombies show up soon after and slaughter most of the bad group. The four who survive end up in the clutches of the tribe, who tie them to some contraption and then hang all four of them at once. The group of good treasure hunters are captured and brought back to the village, where Sompon has a kung fu fight against Aisa. There's a happy ending.









While this isn't very well-made, acted or shot, the old fashioned adventure plot is enjoyable and there's usually entertaining stuff going on most of the time. (I mean, it's kind of hard not to have at least a little fun with a movie cramming in ghosts, zombies, a witch and a werewolf, right?) I did watch a very chaste version of the movie though, which cuts away any time there threatens to be nudity or sex, like when a man follows a woman in a towel into a tent and then it immediately goes to the next scene. Or a moment when two characters are shown almost dressed but clearly putting their clothes back on. It even blurs out a shot of a woman wearing a bra! Seeing how there's nudity on the poster and seeing how the uncut version is said to run around 90 minutes and the one I viewed was 80, I'm assuming all of the sleazier stuff has been removed from this shorter version.


Most of the primary cast seen here were in another action / fantasy / horror mash-up called มหัศจรรย์สุดขอบฟ้า / The Marvelous Tale, released the same year. Chatree had already played a werewolf at least once before in มือปืนผีสิง / The Magic Man (1986), which fell into the hands of Tomas Tang's Hong Kong-based Filmark. They cut some footage out of the original, added new scenes, had it English dubbed and released it under the new title Mad Move in 1988. However, this second wolf movie (despite having the English title both on the poster and the title screen) has never received an English release in any form.

There have been a couple of VHS and VCD releases over the years, including from Happy Time Marketing. The Lepso VCD uses a new title (which translates to "Haunted Fox") and poster art from a different Chatree film.

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