DOI link for Polluted Water
Polluted Water book
Poj Arnon (1970–) is the most commercially successful film-maker working in Thai cinema today, but his films remain little known on the international stage. His lurid, genre-bending mash-ups of horror, comedy, and sex are routine crowd-pleasers at the Thai box-office, but their carnivalesque surrealism has generally proved resistant to easy transcultural reception. Even domestically, Arnon’s films are often dismissed by critics and cultural commentators as populist trash or what in Thai are colloquially termed, ‘nam nao / polluted water’. This paper offers a critical recuperation of Arnon’s oeuvre as a significant expression of popular Thai cinematic abjection. Focussing on the director’s hugely successful series of horror comedies – Hor Taew Tak / Oh My Ghosts I, II, III and Pak Ma Tha Phi / Make Me Shudder I, II, III – it develops a reading of these films as invested in politically resonant processes of queer category rupture in which a series of monstrous psychic and social others – women, gays, kathoei, and up-country provincials – emerge to unsettle Thai cultural hegemonies.