Beyond the Vampire: Revamping Thai Monsters for the Urban Age




phi pop, phi krasue, monsters, evil spirits, Thai horror film, monstrous feminine, city vampires


This article revisits two of the most iconic Thai monstrosities, phi pop and phi krasue, whose changing representation owes equally as much to local folklore, as to their ongoing reinterpretations in  popular culture texts, particularly in film and television. The paper discusses two such considerations, Paul Spurrier’s P (2005) and Yuthlert Sippapak’s Krasue Valentine (2006), films that reject the long-standing notion that animistic creatures belong in the  countryside and portray phi pop and phi krasue’s adaptation to city life. Though commonplace, animistic beliefs and practices have been deemed incompatible with the dominant discourses of  modernization and urbanization that characterise twenty-first century Thailand. Creatures like phi pop and phi krasue have been branded as uncivilised superstition and ridiculed through their unflattering portrayals in oddball comedies. This article argues that by inviting these monsters to relocate to contemporary Bangkok, Spurrier and Sippapak redefine their attributes for the modern urban setting and create hybrids by blending local beliefs and cinematic conventions. The creatures’ predatory character is additionally augmented by the portrayal of the city as itself  vampiric. The article therefore reads these predatory spirits in parallel with the metaphor of the female vampire – a sexually  aggressive voracious creature that threatens male patriarchal order and redefines motherhood.

Author Biography

Katarzyna Ancuta, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Thailand

Dr Katarzyna Ancuta is a lecturer at the Department of Languages, Faculty of Liberal Arts, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Thailand. Her research interests oscillate around the interdisciplinary contexts of contemporary Gothic/Horror, currently with a strong Asian focus. Her recent publications include contributions to A New Companion to the Gothic (2012), Globalgothic (2013), The Cambridge Companion to the Modern Gothic (2014) and Ghost Movies in Southeast Asia and Beyond (2016), as well as two co-edited special journal issues on Thai (2014) and Southeast Asian (2015) horror film.


Ainslie, M. (2014). The supernatural and post-war cinema. Horror Studies, 5(2), 157-169.

Baumann, B. (2016). The Khmer witch project: Demonizing the Khmer by Khmerizing a demon. In P. J. Bräunlein & A. Lauser (Eds.), Ghost movies in Southeast Asia and beyond (pp. 141-183). Leiden: Brill.

Baumann, B. (2014). From filth ghost to Khmer witch: Phi krasue’s changing cinematic construction and its symbolism. Horror Studies, 5(2), 183-196.

Brown, T. (2005). Paul Spurrier talks Thailand, ghosts and P. Screenanarchy. Retrieved from

Gaines, J. H. (2017). Lilith: Seductress, heroine or murderer? Retrieved from Bible History Daily:

Halberstam, J. (1995). Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Hitchcock, A. (Director). (1960). Psycho [Motion Picture]. United States of America: Shamley Productions.

Hudson, D. (2010). Modernity as crisis: Goeng si and vampires in Hong Kong cinema. In J.E. Browning & C.J. Picart (Eds.), Draculas, vampires, and other undead forms: Essays on gender, race, and culture (pp. 203-234). Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press.

Irwin, A. J. (1907). Some Siamese ghost-lore and demonology. Journal of the Siam Society, 4(2), 19-46. Retrieved from

Karim, A. (2003). Shamanism in Bangladesh. In C. Chilson & P. Knecht (Eds.), Shamans in Asia (pp.51-85). London: Routledge.

Kirsch, T. A. (1977). Complexity in the Thai religious system: An interpretation. The Journal of Asian Studies, 36(2), 241-266.

Naowarat, S. (Producer). (1973). Krasue Sao (Ghost of Guts Eater) [Motion Picture]. Thailand: Sri Siam Production.

Ng, A. H. S. (2010). “Death and the maiden”: The pontianak as excess in Malay popular culture. In J.E. Browning & C.J. Picart (Eds.), Draculas, vampires, and other undead forms: Essays on gender, race, and culture (pp. 167-185). Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press.

Patamajorn, R. (2007). Spirit mediumship in Thailand: A performance theory approach (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Heidelberg). Retrieved from

Pile, S. (2005). Real cities: Modernity, space and the phantasmagorias of city life: London: Sage.

Pisanthanakun, B. & Wongpoom, P. (Directors). (2004). Shutter. Thailand: GMM Pictures.

Poulsen, A. (2007). Childbirth and tradition in Northeastern Thailand. Copenhagen: Nias Press.

Rajathon, P. A. (1954). The ‘phi.’ Journal of the Siam Society, 41(2), 153-178. Retrieved from

Sippapak, Y. (Director). (2006). Krasue Valentine (Ghost of Valentine) [Motion Picture]. Thailand: Sahamongkol Film International.

Spurrier, P. (Director) (2005). P [Motion Picture]. Thailand: Creative Films Siam.

Suwanlert, S. (1976a). Phii pob: Spirit possession in rural Thailand. In W.P. Lebra (Ed.), Culture-bound syndromes, ethnopsychiatry, and alternate therapies (pp. 68-87). Honolulu, HI: The University of Hawaii Press.

Suwanlert, S. (1976b). Mental health of phii pob: A phenomenon of spirit possession in Northeast Thailand. Journal of Psychiatric Association of Thailand, 17(1), 21-24.




How to Cite

Ancuta, K. (2017). Beyond the Vampire: Revamping Thai Monsters for the Urban Age. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 16(1).