Our opening review for “Neko’s Halloween Review-athon” is another of those unsubtitled Thai goodies that your Favorite Catgirl sometimes manages to find some fansubs for, this time out we have Thailand’s extreme horror piece, “Meat Grinder” for me to watch.
Our synopsis reads as follows: “Meat Grinder” takes you to taste the bizarre horror of traditional noodle recipe cooked by Boot, a woman who owns a noodle stall, a unique noodle stall.
Boot has been living with tension and stress for all of her life, she works hard for her family as a noodle cook. Sometimes, she is controlled by a mysterious voice that suggests her to do or not to do things. One day, she encounters a chaos in town and is rescued by a guy named Uttapol who later becomes her companion. That evening after the chaos, Boot discovers a guy lying dead inside her pushcart, she discreetly looks at him and comes up with her new recipe. Boot begins to slice his flesh, mix it together with spices, and throw it into her noodle pot.
After her secret recipe is introduced, Boot gains so many customers and reputation of her delicious noodle. Meanwhile, the haunting voice still keeps talking to her, and tell her what to do. Boot tactfully starts to lure and murder people. The more she kills, the more of her dark side reveals. And when Uttapol begins to suspect Boot’s behavior, he stumbles on the evil of her and becomes the hunted.”
Ooooohh!! Cannibalism and murder…. now that’s just gonna make me squirm and give me all sorts of bad dreams….. but is it gonna be really, REALLY scary? Lets all “Read On” and find out shall we?
Now…. most of you Regulars here at the ol’ Litterbox know that really graphic horror isn’t exactly my normal cup of tea….. (I’m just tooo timid and easily frightened by truly graphic images…..) But every once in a while, something so obviously crazy and over the top is great fun for me…. as long as it’s sooooo crazy and out there that I don’t have any trouble accepting it as pure fantasy. It’s one of those things about me that confuse and confound my friends….. I just like to say “Flesh eating Zombies Goooood…. Nice normal seeming guy-next-door serial killer torturers Baaaad!!!”
Luckily for me…. Thai horror movies are rarely unwilling to be all subtle and realistic. Nope…. why do something as lame as that when you can have somebody puke up a whole box of razor blades? “Meat Grinder” belongs firmly to that tradition of Thai horror indeed. Phranakorn Films obviously wants this one to appeal to the same audiences that went crazy for rival Five Star Entertainment’s “Art of the Devil” film franchise. That particular series of films benefited greatly from having been made well before the newly installed stricter Thai Film Ratings system went into effect, whereas “Meat Grinder” had the bad luck to be the first extreme horror film subjected to the censor’s knives….. Did it survive unscathed? Let’s find out….
Our film follows the descent into madness and cannibalistic horror of a simple Thai woman named Boot… an ordinary enough young woman living day to day her hard life raising a crippled daughter Bua all by herself. We get flashbacks showing Boot’s early life…. her cruel domineering mother struggling to keep a worthless husband in line while keeping her family together. It’s easy to see that hard life mirroring itself in Boot’s own grown up life…. her own husband is gone…. having apparently run off with the young sexy baby sitter hired to watch over Bua while Boot makes her living with a noodle pushcart in the back streets and alleys of Bangkok. Or did he really run away….? Don’t worry… we’ll find out.
Our first hint that trouble might be afoot comes following a terrible street riot that happens to stampede through the alley where Boot has her cart… There’s confusion… tear gas…. fleeing rioters… and the Thai army shooting everybody that gets in their way. Luckily a handsome young student saves her… pulling her to safety amid the chaos only to lose her when she returns for her cart. Back home, Boot gets a surprise….. withing her cart, dead from gunshots is one of the rioters…. so she does what she needs to to hide the body. Yep…. it’s break out the knives and make that body…. just…go… away. Eeewwwwhhh!!! (Well… actually, not so much so. The official Thai DVD doesn’t really get as graphic in this respect as I though they might. There’s no doubt what’s happening here… you just don’t actually see any of the body get dismembered in any truly violent fashion.)
Much of the film is like that… and I got the feeling there was some serious editing involved to manage it…. some of it not particularly subtle either. There is, at times a sense that something was removed without any attempt to make it seem seamless. The result is some truly nasty ideas…. but not a lot of actual nasty images. Still… there’s a lot of the gooey red stuff to go around and plenty of bits of people that pop up in some grisly places, so you can’t say “Meat Grinder” doesn’t deliver some queasy shocks at times.
Naturally, the plot develops so that Boy meets Girl… Boy helps Girl run her restaurant… they fall in love…. then the discovery that Boot is hallucinating and crazy drives them apart. So… of course… Boy meet another, less insane Girl, first Girl gets jealous and still owns a wickedly sharp cleaver… you know where we’re heading, right?
The moment Boot is shown to be completely unhinged and on shaky ground, the viewer immediately starts going… “Ahhhh!!! Now I know why nobody saw her daughter….. and I just knew unfaithful hubby and his girlfriend were already dead.” Not a big surprise, but well used here….. I just wish the Thai police had actually been a bit more active in their investigation. I mean, Boot barely hides her crimes…. and you’d have to be pretty blind to miss the clues that something is amiss. They do…. but then so does our hero, and he spends huge amounts of time with Boot in her restaurant and never once finds the skeletons in the garden…. the little dead girl in the garden water urn, or the big vat of body parts in the cellar, right next to the meat locker where the bodies are stored while being butchered.
Ultimately…. the story gets to the point where Boot throws herself into the river to drown herself… and naturally that ends with our clueless doofus of a hero nearly framed as the mastermind behind all the murders. But don’t worry… they leave just enough of a set up just in case there’s gonna be a “Meat Grinder 2”…..
This one was… well…. ok for a horror movie, but I have to confess, it’s definitely not the match of “Art of the Devil”…. seems the new ratings system did take some of the “X” out of “extreme” after all. Neko gives this one a decent, but unspectacular 3 “Meows” out of 5….. It’s not a bad gore film…. it’s just not a “great” gore film. The Thai disc itself is more than adequate… and thanks to the beautiful english fansubs I managed to find, very easy to enjoy for a simple evening’s “Guilty Pleasure” gore time. Still… I wouldn’t rush right out and grab this one yourself until a decent HK release with those subs already on board comes along unless you, too, are a dedicated Thai horror junkie like this lil’ girl.
Trailer, you ask? Naturally!! And here you go!!