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April 25, 2008

Sick Nurses

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Suay Laak Sai
Piraphan Laoyont & Thodsapol Siriwiwat - 2007
Magnolia Home Entertainment Region 1 DVD

I first read about Sick Nurses through Curtis, also known as Wise Kwai. You can google the term "Thai logic", or you can use this film as Exhibit A regarding the wide, undisturbed release of this film in Thailand while Syndromes and a Century finally gets released in a censored version. Curtis has noted several times the scenes that caused offense to the Thai cultural gatekeepers. Two of the offending scenes involved the medical profession - a doctor has an erection pressing inside his pants, his response to being with his fiancee, a female doctor, and some doctors imbibe on some alcohol while off duty, but on hospital grounds. To the best of my knowledge, no one speaking on behalf of medical professionals has expressed outrage, but these scenes were among the handful that has caused this critically acclaimed Thai film to be seen as intended almost everywhere, except Thailand.

In the meantime, Sick Nurses is in part about a doctor who works with a black market organ market. Doctor Tar is also revealed to have had affairs with most of his team of nurses, impregnated one, and had wistful flashbacks about the hunky male doctor who proposed marriage to him. One of the nurses, discovering that the good doctor was not going to marry her, gets killed by the doctor and the other nurses to prevent her from spilling the beans about the illegal activity. The ghost of the nurse goes around killing the nurses in a variety of inventive and increasingly gory ways.

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Well, not always inventive, as the ghost looks like a more fashionably dressed version of one of those long haired ghosts from Ju-On. There is one scene that will look like it was almost lifted from that film or its English language remake. One of the murders involves a nurse losing her jaw after being forced to swallow paper clips, follow by the literal visual metaphor of a cat getting her tongue, topped off with a killer fetus. While Sick Nurses wallows in dubious taste, the revelation regarding the identity of the ghost nurse may strike some as not only offensive, but giving lie to the notion of sexual tolerance in Thailand.

Sick Nurses is crap. Undeniably well made crap, but crap just the same. It was produced by the same team made Tony Jaa a star, and distributed by one of the biggest film companies in Thailand. I wouldn't be surprised if, like the other horror films I saw in Thailand, this was released with their ubiquitous PG13 rating. Adding to the absurdity that the cultural gatekeepers of Thailand felt the need to gang up on a gentle film by a filmmaker who other countries would cherish simply for bringing prestige to their country, is that none of these people seemed to regard it in any way as contradictory that Sick Nurses would be given a pass for a more questionable presentation of the medical profession. It also bothers me that Sick Nurses gets a U.S. DVD release well before that of the far superior Alone. It's within the context of what is going on with Thai cinema, both within and outside of Thailand that I make my comments.

There are a couple of good points to Sick Nurses. The nurses are cute. And the film runs for less than 80 minutes.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at April 25, 2008 12:07 AM