Friday, October 9, 2020

documental.

Day 9 of the whole 31 Days of Horror thing and it's time to shake it up a wee bit with a movie that is - unusually for this blog - utterly bloody fantastic.

I've raved about it before but honestly until everyone I know has seen it I'm not going to stop.

Haunted Changi (2010)
Dir: Andrew Lau, Tony Kern (uncredited).
Cast: Andrew Lau, Audi Khalis, Farid Azlam and Sheena Chung.





Singapore's famous - in ghost hunting circles - Old Changi Hospital has for years been the focal point of hundreds of paranormal investigations by psychical researchers from both home and abroad.

Save for Yvette Fielding, who's unable to fly to Singapore due to unpaid library fines and crimes against swimsuit fashion.

Probably.

Anyway, the history of the hospital gives an interesting insight into just why the site is claimed to be so haunted; originally commandeered as headquarters for the Japanese Military during World War 2, rumours circulated that the Japanese had built a number of barbaric torture chambers below the building in concealed tunnels as well as executing hundreds of POW's in  the hospital grounds.

Which is nice.


Not long after the war (we won by the way) the former hell hole was cleaned with disinfectant, given a fresh lick of paint and turned into a public hospital.

Obviously the local council thought that this would make everyone completely forget about the buildings notorious past.

Surprisingly this plan would have worked if only someone had decided to tell the myriad of ghosts, spectres and various Pontianaks (a Malay vampire fact fans) that haunt the building.


Typical local authority eh?

Not ones to let things lie, the concerned townsfolk decided that no ailment or illness was worth visiting haunted Changi Hospital for, so whilst the staff sat about twiddling their thumbs the local residents limped about and tried not to complain to much about their sore throats, various cancers and ingrowing toenails.

A wee bit like Govan then.

In 1997, the government finally took the hint and closed down Changi - no doubt relocating it to Holby City - leaving site open for numerous ghost-hunters, thrill seekers and vandals to visit in the hope of encountering any supernatural creatures or even coming across famous charlatan and ex-footballer Derek Acorah cracking one off in the basement*.

And this, dear reader is where we come in.


Changi Hospital: twinned with Fred West's house.




You see, groovy movie director Andrew Lau has decided to film a documentary about the infamous hospital, recruiting the pixie-like poppet Sheena Chung to produce his epic and hiring top sound-man (and all round sound guy) Farid Azlam and his cameraman buddy Audi Khalis to act as crew.

The brief is simple, with the documentary starting out in standard style with lots of creepy time lapse shots of the building, various talking heads interviews, a wee bit of wandering about the building during daylight hours and background info that will finally culminate with an all night vigil alongside the local paranormal group.

What could possibly go wrong?

"...and this is where I take off my zombie mask and shite in the tramps mooth".


With all concerned not taking the shoot too seriously (indeed, Khalis is more interested in using the night vision camera to gaze at young girls breasts in nightclubs), the crews mood is pretty playful with even Andrew admiting that they may edit in some homemade 'spooky stuff' to give the audiences a thrill.

Their day time jaunts to the hospital and evenings spent in the editing room show a group of close friends laughing and joking, sometimes at each others expense but all committed to making the best movie that they can.

Imagine, if you will  Cannibal Holocaust's lost footage revealing that the crew were busy helping the natives build rafts and knit jumpers before wandering off happy and content and you're halfway there.

But not too surprisingly, all that is about to change.

Watch out...Beadle's about!


Checking thru' the latest footage Andrew spots a ghostly, shadowy hand resting on Sheena's shoulder and if that wasn't enough to put the willies up our team then the headless shadows appearing against the hospital walls must surely serve as a warning of bad things to come.

Luckily for us it doesn't otherwise it'd be a really short film.

As the night shoot beckons Andrew appears to be somewhat distracted but no-one really notices seeing as the local paranormal group have turned up with a wee boy in tow.

It seems that whenever they go on an investigation (or 'vigil' as they call it) they drag the group leaders son along and make him go into the building first.

Seemingly if he doesn't get eaten, possessed or buggered by trees then the ghosts are friendly.

Phew, glad that's sorted.



If your hand is bigger than your face you'll die young....





Everything is going swimmingly until the poor little sod is sent up a darkened corridor leading to the toilets.

Within seconds of him touching the door handle (and cloth) he runs screaming out of the hospital and off down the road causing the investigators to hastily agree that they have enough evidence to suggest that yes, the hospital is probably haunted.

And with that they leave.

Unperturbed by this turn of events Andrew and co. soldier on, getting plenty of creepy footage and scary noises to spook the thrill-seeking public but when they return to the relative comfort of their studio, Andrew seems a little distracted.

After much verbal prodding his pals discover that a few days earlier when exploring the hospital, he'd come across  a Chinese national - the exotically monikered Xiao Juan - who it seems had been unwittingly duped into working in Singapore's burgeoning sex trade (we've all been there) and after fleeing her pimp had ended up living rough on site.

And Andrew, never one to miss an opportunity had been secretly interviewing her for the documentary. 

Boo!

Obviously his pals are oh so slightly pissed of that he's been keeping secrets from them, especially Sheena who having a crush on the cheeky chappie flies off in a jealous rage causing Andrew to storm out of the studio to a rousing "Fuck you!" whilst carrying a huge bag of tapes out to his car.

Which doesn't really bode well for the rest of the shoot.

The crew, being nice folk decide to give him time to calm down.

Bless.

Not too sure on Chris Chibnall's Dalek redesign.


After a few weeks of unanswered calls and sitting about randomly looking at blank monitors Sheena decides that they should maybe go and visit Andrew to try and make amends.

Oh and hopefully get back to finishing their movie obviously.

But on arriving at his house none of them are prepared for the stench of stale sweat, egg and shame emanating from his kitchen.

Stumbling from the bedroom covered in sticky filth and weeping sores, it appears that Andrew has spent the intervening time hanging around the hospital alone, filming extra footage and 'probing' Xiao Juan for information.

Completely obsessed with both his new squeeze and the secrets of the hospital, he begs his colleagues to join him for one last night shoot where he promises to reveal the truth behind the hauntings once and for all.....




Appearing almost from nowhere way back in 2010, US born Singapore based Tony Kern's mockumentary shocker is a scarily effective little tale that plays out like one of those seldom repeated Christmas ghost stories of old so loved by the BBC  that builds slowly yet creepily towards it's shock climax, a lean mean tale of caution that works not only as a supernatural tale but also as a modern equivalent of an old fashioned folk fable akin to Hansel and Gretal.

Following the blueprint set by his first full length feature, A Month of Hungry Ghosts - in which Kern's takes the celebrations surrounding the seventh-lunar-month Hungry Ghost Festival and adds a few supernatural events of his own -  Haunted Changi's real-life hospital setting and history - it's reported to be Singapore's most ghost filled location alongside The Old Ford Motor Factory on Upper Bukit Timah Road, Fort Canning Park and the pontianak riddled Old Commando Jetty near Changi Beach - is used (and abuse)d as a basis for a good old haunted house tale which is as rewarding as it is scary.

Not bad for a film that probably cost less than the photocopying budget of Hereditary.

Laugh nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.....

With it's likeable cast, genuinely freaky locations and simple, scare filled agenda Haunted Changi is worth searching for in much the same way as the intrepid film makers hoped to search for ghosts.

Albeit with less chance of being dazzled by one of Derek Acorah's guitar shaped diamond earings.

Criminally it's never gotten a UK distribution deal (we did try - shame on the company that knocked it back, you know who you are, I even drew up a cover design to save them cash) but like most things it's available to buy elsewhere so you've no excuse for not going online and ordering it right now.

And while you're at it pick up copies of the director's other works - the anthology movie Afterimages and the aforementioned - and frankly fantastic - documentary A Month Of Hungry Ghosts too.

Interested?

If you're a proper horror fan you should be.































* Tho' probably not the last one.

And not just because he's dead.

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