Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thai-style Kaiju: The films of Sompote Sands Part II

King-ka Kayasit

As stated in my previous post, in preparation for writing my Teleport City review of Hanuman and the 7 Ultramen I felt compelled to watch a bunch of other films (God help me) by that movie's director/producer, Sompote Saengduenchai, aka Sompote Sands. Today's entry is the 1980s film King-ka Kayasit, aka Magic Lizard.

It seems that the idea with King-ka Kayasit was to dress a man up in a Frill-necked Lizard costume and film him in whatever scenarios could be thought up on the fly, and then to try and impose some kind of narrative structure upon the result by inserting footage from previous Chaiyo productions into the mix. As most of you no doubt know, a Frill-necked Lizard is that lizard who, when frightened, opens his mouth wide, puffs out his frill and tears around on his hind legs. Of course, unless you live in a region that the Frill-necked Lizard is indigenous to, you never see it in any other state, for the simple reason that a relaxed Frill-necked Lizard just isn't funny as a terrified one. Magic Lizard follows this rule, showing our titular reptile in a constant state of agitation--and constantly prattling away in a shrill little girl's voice for good measure.

I'm not really big into writing a lot of summarization in my reviews, but in the case of a film like King-ka Kayasit I can think of no better way to give you a sense of what watching the film was like than to simply describe what I witnessed taking place on screen. After an opening sequence in which we watch Magic Lizard roller-skating around the city to the accompaniment of 80s dance music, recycled footage from the earlier Giant and Jumbo A shows us some space aliens landing in a pink flying saucer. One of the aliens steals into a cave beneath a temple where the hapless but lovable Magic Lizard appears to be responsible for guarding some kind of treasure. After threatening Magic Lizard with a light saber, the alien makes off with a crystal of some sort, after which Magic Lizard starts with the high-pitched nattering and spazzing out that will characterize his behavior for the rest of the film. He runs to Yuk Wud Jaeng, the demon-like living statue previously featured in both Giant and Jumbo A and the earlier reviewed Tah Tien, and pleads for his help. Yuk Wud Jaeng takes off into the heavens, not to be seen again for some time.

We next see footage recycled from Sands' 1981 film Crocodile depicting people being gorily chomped on by a fake-looking crocodile head. This sequence also manages to work in what appears to have been one of Sands' favorite motifs, the skinny dipping scene. In this instance, the top-heavy female swimmer has a male companion who fondles her boobs as they swim, holding them up for the camera as if to demonstrate their girth. Having handily dispelled any notion of King-ka Kayasit being a family film, the action then moves from croco-carnage to croco-comedy as Magic Lizard has a series of hilarious encounters with the crocodile, some of which involve the crocodile apparently trying to bite his balls. This kicks off a series of episodes in which Magic Lizard runs into and away from various beasts. As in Tah Tien, those animals are represented by stock wildlife footage until contact with the actor in the Magic Lizard suit requires that they become ridiculous, largely immobile life-sized puppets... or in the case of a bear that Magic Lizard wrestles, a man in a blindingly shoddy costume. This series of episodes winds down with a long scene in which Magic Lizard dances with some elephants as "Baby Elephant Walk" plays on the soundtrack.

Next comes a scene where some treasure hunters are trapped in a cave with some life-sized skeleton puppets, a golden fire-breathing ox, and a swarm of giant puppet mosquitoes. Magic Lizard comes to their aid but is apparently killed by the mosquitoes. Despite this he later manages to turn up in a bath house where an old man is trying to get a much younger woman to take her clothes off. Magic Lizard and the woman end up trading massages, much to the apparent chagrin of the old man. Somewhere in all this is a scene in which Magic Lizard rides an ox--a real one--and attempts to get it to giddy-up by sodomizing it with his tail. (And if you think that such an action would simply be implied, King-ka Kayasit has a graphic little surprise for you.) Later the ox gets revenge by getting the drop on Magic Lizard and shitting in his mouth.

Next up is a rematch with the crocodile from Crocodile, which climaxes with a monkey in a tree pitching coconuts to Magic Lizard, who hits them into the crocodile's mouth with a bat. When the crocodile becomes too bloated with coconuts to move, Magic Lizard starts spinning his frill around like a helicopter rotor and takes off into the air, towing the crocodile behind him. Finally we're shown more footage from Giant and Jumbo A featuring Yuk Wud Jaeng fighting with a giant alien on the moon, or something. Then Yuk Wud Jaeng flies back to Earth and returns the stolen crystal to Magic Lizard, who is very happy. The end.

King-ka Kayasit bears what I'm beginning to understand is a hallmark of Sompote Sands' style in that it is both supremely retarded and deeply creepy. I actually feel like watching it made me slightly stupider. Still, it was hard for me to look over what I've written above without thinking that some of it actually sounded kind of awesome (the lizard-as-helicopter thing in particular). It really wasn't, though.

Next up: The Noble War


Wise Kwai said...

What a great series of Thai Kaiju reviews. It's good(?) to know that Thai Kaiju has a deeper history than just Paksa wayu. Or this.

Todd said...

I'm glad to see that the big G is proud of his grill and didn't go for none of that Invisalign action. Also glad you enjoyed the review! I need to take a breather from old Sompote for a couple of days, but I'll be back next week with more reviews in this series.