... aka: Ghost of Guts Eater
... aka: Krasue Girl
... aka: Will-o'-the-wisp
S. Nawaraj (Sanit Kosaroth)
One of the only fully surviving pre-80s Thai genre films, this has been preserved for posterity thanks to a couple of enterprising men in Sweden who traveled to Thailand right at the dawn of the home video revolution, acquired the rights to a handful of films not released anywhere outside of the country and then issued them to VHS in the early 80s. The original Thai language soundtracks were retained but the films were given new English titles and hard coded Swedish subs. These acquisitions, less than 20 in total, were then distributed through two different labels: HB Video-film Norrköping and Video World. Ghost of Guts Eater was sadly the only horror movie of the lot and the rest appear to be action films. Because the same VHS-sourced copy has been bandied around so much in recent years (the quality is dark / poor but it's surprisingly in widescreen), the most common print you'll now find has American subtitles on top of Swedish subtitles on top of smaller Swedish subtitles!
The film centers around a well-known ghost in Thailand called a krasue. This same ghost has equivalents with different names depending on the Southeast Asian country you're in, but the spirit is usually the same: a detached, flying woman's head with internal organs (heart, stomach and a lump of intestines) dangling beneath that has a taste for flesh and blood, typically that of fetuses and babies. There are dozens of films involving this creature, which are still being made regularly to this day, and this appears to be one of the earliest films of this type.
One of the titular creatures is terrorizing a small village, scaring the bejesus outta everyone and slaughtering chickens. The ghost has taken possession of an old woman named Chim (Sulaleewan Suwanthat, who's also featured prominently in the Italian exploitation classic MAN FROM DEEP RIVER) and, having used up her body for all its worth (one of the unfortunately side effects of such a possession), is about to pass itself onto a new carrier. Thankfully Chim's syrupy sweet granddaughter Bua Klee (Pisamai Wilaisak) happens to be living with her. Prior to passing, Chim gives Bua Klee a ring, but only under the condition she promise to never take it off. She also insists Bua Klee cremate her body immediately and not tell anyone about her "murder." Bua Klee's boyfriend Boon Muang (Sombat Metanee, who passed away this past August) and his best friend Phi Chood (Choomporn Theppitak) happen by their hut just in time to help. They also must help Bua Klee fend off the unwanted advances of the thuggish arse Chatr (Man Teeraphol), who also has romantic designs on her.
Bua Klee (now pregnant) and Muang get married but their wedded bliss doesn't last too long, nor does the newfound peace and quiet in the village. The ring Bua Klee now adorns houses the spirit of her krasue-possessed granny... and she's hungry! Now possessed by the spirit herself, Bua Klee's head occasionally pops off and flies around the village late at night looking for grub. Several villagers i.d. the floating noggin as belonging to her and rumors she's a vampire rapidly spread. An exorcist, Doctor Prasit (Tat Ekathat), is called in to help. He gives the skeptical Muang a "holy rod" and instructs him to beat his wife with it. You'd think this would cause some friction in their marriage, as suddenly whipping your wife without explanation is sometimes known to do, but Bua Klee just brushes it off with a smile: "No matter what, I will forgive you! I love you so much! Please love me long!"
Seeing how the beating does not reveal any kind of evil spirit, Muang goes back to Dr. Prasit and punches him out, which prompts the exorcist to plot revenge ("Your vampire wife will die!"). However, his attempt at calling forth a demon backfires when it kills him, captures his spirit and takes him to hell. With things rapidly going downhill for them in their village, Muang, Bua Klee and Chood flee to the country to stay with Muang's uncle, Chaeng (Sawin Sawangrat), but the seclusion ends up not offering up any protection.
In a scene that sounds much better than it actually is, another old krasue lady lives nearby, which leads to a krasue v. krasue catfight over an animal carcass that concludes with Bua Klee biting the other krasue's guts. That prompts the injured krasue and her hubby (some kind of flying "demon") to get revenge, which they plan on enacting whenever Bua Klee gives birth to her baby so they can steal it and eat its heart. But that's not all!
When Muang travels back into the village to make a deal with wealthy trader Kamnan (Chao Klaewklong), he strikes the fancy of the man's spoiled daughter, Madua (Metta Roongrat), who herself is already being pursued by Chatr (the same guy who was trying to get into Bua Klee's pants earlier in the film). Chatr attempts to kill Muang, but only shoots him in the arm. After spending a few days nursing him back to health, Madua declares her devotion to him ("You know I love you so much!"). Him being married and already having a child isn't of any real concern to her. She just uses love spells to make him fall for her. The father then catches them in bed together and forces them to get married.
Meanwhile, a desperate Bua Klee is trying to find a way to get her man back. She learns of a treasure by some old ruins that's supposedly guarded by a giant. As for how to break the curse, it involves finding some fire and then stripping naked next to it. She attempts this (showing off her bare ass in the process) but is denied the treasure because she's yet to atone for her sins. A plan is hatched to break the love curse against Muang, which causes things to spiral out of control. Many people get killed.
While it may seem hard to believe by today's standards, this was a major release and a hit film in Thailand at the time, with many top box office draws in the cast and special effects work (including some brief, crude stop motion) that was considered elaborate and revolutionary by early 70s Thai standards. It was also shot on 35mm during what was considered the Golden Age of cinema in the country, so the production values are somewhat better (though still low!) than much of what came later. Starting in the second half of the 80s, similar films would be cheaply and carelessly shot on 16mm, bogged down with childish slapstick comedy, not even feature much in the way of special effects and be marketed almost exclusively to rural audiences. The films were not well-made or sophisticated enough to cut the mustard in larger urban areas and were mostly ignored there.
Running 105 minutes, this almost seems like three different movies mashed into one. It's episodic and melodramatic, sometimes tediously so. The pacing is horrendous, the soundtrack is comprised almost exclusively of overbearing (stolen) music and it ends up sidelining the very creatures we came to see in favor of the alternately mushy and messy relationship drama. That would perhaps be easier to take had we not been saddled with a lead female character who's insufferably whiny, pathetic and weak. Sometimes this hits on the right side of weird but the highlights are sadly few and far between.
The credited director is ส.เนาวราช, which is translated to either S. Naowarat or S. Naowaratch on most websites (the Swedish subs call him "S. Nawaraj"). Doing a little digging around and connecting of some dots, I was able to find out who this guy really is and about some of the other players involved. The real director is สนิท โกศะรถ, or Sanit Kosaroth, who was best known as a crime fiction writer and magazine publisher. The Naowarat / Naowaratch alias was a pen name he frequently used. He passed away just two years after this film was released at the age of just 45. The film was financed by บันลือ อุตสาหจิต / Banlue Utsahachit, who owned his own publishing house that frequently employed "Naowarat" as a writer. It's based on a graphic novel series by ทวี วิษณุกร / Thawee Witsanukorn, which was published by Banluesan Publishing House.