Film stars ask for spiritual blessing despite some criticisms of its genre

Film stars ask for spiritual blessing despite some criticisms of its genre

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The cast and crew of Vampire Blood Evil pray before feasting in a ceremony to bless the film. Photograph: Seth Kimseourn /Phnom Penh Post

Music label The Sunday Production Company has successfully produced two films, and despite some criticism the second was seen as shallow with little social messages it is pushing ahead with a third film.

The company is hoping for a significant box office return, and last weekend the cast and crew and director  held a special Krong Pealy , an offering to the spirits ceremony in the hope their efforts will be blessed by them.

Superstar singer and now actor Khemarak Sereyman took part in the ceremony where a pig was roasted and the feasted on by the cast and crew after prayers.

But it’s expected Sunday Productions will again be criticised for making another horror film, this time a scary one called Vinhan Bisach Chunchok Chheam (Vampire Blood Evil).

While horror films have had a long tradition in Hollywood and are regarded as a totally legitimate genre – and a super successful one at that – there is a more conservative reaction by some Cambodian commentators.

But making such films is yet another example of the great leap forward in Cambodia’s culture as it’s younger generation continues sets its own standards.  

Director of the film Lay Sok Chamroeun staged the ceremony after enjoying success with his previous two films. The first shot in 2003 was titled Angkoulimea (the name of the lead character who started out as a young troublemaker who later became a better man) did not attract criticism, but the second Preay Dek Koul or Nail Evil did because it focused on evil spirits.

When the third film was announced, there was another round of boos because it was again in the horror genre.

Chamroeun says he has a budget of around $20000 to $30000 for Vampire Blood Evil and is hoping it will be a box office hit.

“Our company is ready to invest that amount of money when we shoot the third film,” he told 7Days. “We prëdict a bigger return than our investment because we plan to distribute it to other countrries.

“We’re hoping that this film will be a much more good looking film on screen because we have selected famous actors, actresses and singers and have also cast some Hong Kong film stars.

“Now we’re planning to shoot one film per year to promote the Khmer movie industry. ”

Stars cast in the film special include  the famous singers Khemarak Sereymon and Sok Srey Neang, while other well-known singers from the Sunday Production Company like Chhay Virak Yuth, Iva, Phan Monika, Kong Chan Sreymom, Heng Pitou, Sok Raksa, Bun Sak, Meas Saly and Keo Veasna will also feature.

While it has attracted criticism, the director believes such a production can only benefit the overall Cambodian filmmaking industry which is growing.

Production is scheduled to end soon and Vampire Blood Evil launched in November at the Phnom Penh Theatre Centre.

To contact the reporter on this story: Seth Kimseourn at [email protected]

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