Ghost of Mae Nak, 2005's contemporary update of the Mae Nak ghost legend, is coming out on DVD in Hong Kong on June 30. It's an oft-told story, most famously depicted in Nonzee Nimibutr's 1999 version. And recently, Nak has taken on a kid-friendly cartoon form, battling evil foreign ghosts.
Directed by British filmmaker Mark Duffield and produced by DeWarrenne Pictures, Ghost of Mae Nak is about Mak and Nak (Tangmo Pataratida Pacharawirapong and Siwat "C" Chotchaicharin), a young newlywedded Bangkok couple.
Their starter home, an old abandoned house, is on the very piece of land that the ghost Mae Nak of Phra Khanong occupied with her beloved husband Mak.
With a hole in her forehead, Mae Nak, played by Pornthip Papanai (the leggy maid in Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Ploy and the sexy female singer in Monrak Transistor), acts as a protector of the couple, scaring off an unscrupulous real estate agent as well as a pair of burglars, and it becomes apparent that she expects a favor in return.
At the center of her intentions is a mysterious brooch that literally is the key to setting Mae Nak's spirit free.
Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee's Peter Nellhaus reviewed Ghost of Mae Nak not too long ago. He says it makes a good complement to Nonzee Nimibutr's Nang Nak. Here's a bit more:
What makes The Ghost of Mae Nak better than the usual Thai film is that Duffield treats the material seriously. There are no characters inserted for comic relief, nor does this follow the frequent Thai pattern of punctuating the scares with laughs. There is a certain reverence towards the original legend that makes The Ghost of Mae Nak unexpectedly moving. There is also a twist ending that, while not totally unexpected, still manages to be quite unsettling.
Ghost of Mae Nak was among the Thai titles picked up for U.S. DVD release by the now-shuttered Tartan Video USA. It's available at Amazon and HK Flix.
The disc has also been released in Thailand, unbelievably with English subtitles, according to HK Flix, as well as Taiwan (no English subs, according to YesAsia).
The upcoming Hong Kong release, available for pre-order from DDD House, is on a region-free, NTSC DVD or VCD with English and Chinese subtitles. Depending on your shipping, it might work out to be a cheaper option to the Tartan disc, though you'll be forgoing Tartan's special features, which include a "making of" and director's commentary.