Thai director Poj Arnon has made a name for himself with two horror franchises: Make Me Shudder (I blog about the first film here) and Hor Taew Tak—known in English as Oh My Ghost!
He also has a notable non-horror filmography of gay and “transvestite” movies. Which is where the challenge comes in when blogging about the Oh My Ghost! gay horror comedy series. These films are about a group of what I consider to be drag queens, but I feel something gets lost in translation here. And I’m not just talking about possible language issues. I think cultural differences in the way the West and East view matters of gender identity and sexual orientation come into play and are way beyond my ability to clarify. I’ll explain as I go through the films, and if anyone has a better understanding, feel free to school me in the comments section below.
HAUNTING ME (2007)
The language barrier gets in the way starting with the title of the first film! I’m not sure why this one is called Haunting Me in English. Is that the official translation of Hor Taew Tak, an alternate translation, or just a name that was decided upon for the English release? Whatever the case, after this initial release, the films shift to Oh My Ghost!
This film begins with a “ladyboy,” as he’s called, heading for the shower after sex with his man, slipping on soap, smashing his head against the toilet bowl, and dying. From what I can understand, “ladyboy” can refer to either a transgender individual or an effeminate gay man…or a drag queen? Or perhaps the meaning has changed over time. Not sure. Therefore, it’s hard to determine exactly what the deal is with the identities of all the drag queens in the series. Therefore, I’m going to simply refer to our main group of queens as, well, queens, and the ladyboy that just died as a ladyboy.
Next, we meet the group of queens that runs the home for boys. The dynamic is very complex here. These men identify as women, but I’m not sure that they are supposed to be transgender. However, the lead queen has a son who calls him dad, yet he demands the boy call him mother, and has a sister he demands call him sis.
The queens constantly call each other gay slurs, and have gay slurs hurled at them by others. There’s a blatant internal homophobia expressed as if it’s a natural way for gays/trans people to feel about each other. The queens won’t even allow gay guys to stay in their home because it’s a home for boys. Is that implying that gays are somehow a threat to boys, even though the very people who run the place and are trying to protect the boys are a bunch of queens?
Once you get past all the mind-boggling sexual and gender politics, you’re left with a totally campy gay horror comedy.
The ghost of the dead ladyboy begins to terrorize the queens, constantly chasing them around the house. For director Poj Arnon, both in the Make Me Shudder films and this franchise, the standard comic approach is endless screaming and running.
And the queens aren’t the only ones screaming. All the pretty boys are being terrorized as well…by a girl ghost!
The queens have to figure out a way to get rid of the ghosts.
It’s a revolving door of whacky witches and witch doctors, plus a few surprises, like a gay cowboy couple that I’m convince is supposed to be the guys from the gaysian horror comedy Ghost Station.
Between all the exhaustingly shrill screaming, there are plenty of genuinely funny moments, but by the end of the film it gets bat shit crazy, turning into a ridiculously fantastical witchy/wizard magic battle.
OH MY GHOST! 2 (2009)
NOPE. It’s 2…
The series shifts titles to Oh My Ghost! from this point on. To make matters even more confusing, this sequel is sometimes called Oh My Ghost! since it’s the first film in the series with that name, but also called Oh My Ghost! 2 because it’s the second film in the series. This leads to part 3 sometimes being called part 2, etc.
All the characters return, including the ladyboy ghost after the queens summon him from the scene of his death: the toilet bowl.
They need his help to battle the ghosts at their new home for boys—a couple of angry girl ghosts.
This second installment is weaker, relying heavily on the repetitive running/screaming shtick to fill the time. It also goes the Troma route, with lots of obnoxious shit humor. Plus, the boys are disappointingly young this time, removing any eye candy from the mix, which makes this one feel a lot less gay.
On top of that, when the ladyboy at one point summons a demon devil, there’s more self-loathing messaging, with the demon saying he was queer when he was alive and it sucked, and he’s much happier as a beast.
For the grand finale, the queens go back in time to find out what really transpired to piss off the ghosts.
OH MY GHOST! 3 (2011)
NOPE. It’s 3…
Part 3 further builds an arching story with many references that are deeply entrenched in what has happened previously, and brings even more characters from the former films along for the fun in yet another new home for boys that the queens have been asked to run.
This home has the creep factor built in from the start. It looks like a gothic haunted location. It’s surrounded by a cemetery. When they arrive, the queens are warned not to go in the red building.
Once again, the screaming starts almost immediately as the queens come face to face with an ugly girl ghost (you’d think this kind of stuff wouldn’t faze them anymore).
But there’s a funny new twist to this particular spook.
There’s also a beautiful boy who hangs by the pool in his Speedo and catches the eye of the ladyboy ghost, who begins a relationship with him.
Even with these unique plot points, the film feels like it’s the same old thing for quite a while, particularly because it’s the longest film yet. If it could have just been edited down, it would have gotten to the best part sooner…the sexy battle between the pretty boy vampires and werewolves!
That’s right. The series takes a page out of the Twilight playbook.
There are only a few CGI scenes of an actual cartoonish werewolf transformation so we know they’re werewolves.
But that’s just fine, because these boys are so sexy as is that it brings a refreshing homoerotic edge to the series at last.
OH MY GHOST! 4 (2012)
NOPE. It’s 4…
For me, the series peaks with the third film. I mean, after introducing sexy boy vamps and werewolves, you can’t go back to a bunch of queens running around and screaming at the sight of a girl ghost.
But that’s exactly what happens as the series continues. To change things up a little, in part 4 the group heads to a boys home in the snowy mountains.
Plus, one of our main beloved queens dies! The whole movie revolves around the group mourning his death…and trying to, you know, make him undead…
The franchise makes a noticeable shift in tone. There are no longer over the top campy wizardry sequences. The films follow more of a supernatural whodunit structure.
Also, the queens, while previously asexual for the most part and rather against expressions of homosexuality around the boys in their homes, transform into notably horny gay men who are rather lecherous in the way they lust after the boys.
This film, for instance, has a surprisingly explicit gay sex scene with a somewhat nonconsensual feel to it.
And it’s played for laughs! Tasteless laughs at that.
The series also begins to turn into one big supernatural gay soap opera as the characters at least get romantic interests to balance out all their predatory behavior.
Even the ladyboy ghost ends up in a love triangle with his pool boy.
On the horror side of things, the ghost girl is a nice and scary screamer and draws the group into a freaky cornfield. Not to mention, the movie delivers an actual kick ass jump scare elevator scene right out of…well…an Asian horror movie.
OH MY GHOST! 5 (2015)
Numbers don’t even seem to matter anymore.
While things start off with a school reunion, the queens are soon back at a school for boys with their friends and frenemies. They don’t even get through the gates of the place before they’re screaming at the sight of a ghost girl. Dudettes, half your friends are ghosts and every single boys home you work at has ghosts. What are you so afraid of?
The new spin this time is that the lead queen wants to own this boys home, and the way he can do that is if he pimps his son off to the old bag who owns the place!
And of course there’s a story of death, the girl ghost harassing everyone, and boys and queens running around screaming as they try to solve a murder to put the ghost to rest.
This installment is another painfully long one with too much of the non-horror soap opera shenanigans.
The only really good horror sequence has all the cute boys exploring at night with flashlights, encountering the ghost girl, and one of them getting possessed.
The unexpected scare leads some of the boys to accidentally fall into a rather gay formation, which is funny.
But most of the other gay stuff involves the pervy old queens spying on the boys and trying to see them naked!
I’m not sure if there’s a part 6 on the way, but if so, I hope the series once again breaks the mold as it did with part 3 and delivers a new kind of ghoul and more gay. And it would be nice if the whole series would come out on DVD. Only Haunting Me is available in the U.S., and it’s a DVD-R release.