a.k.a. King-Ka Kayasit
company: Chaiyo Productions
director: Sompote Sands
cast: Lor Tok, Der Daksadao, See Thao
not on home video in the USA
My readers will pardon my choice of words, but it seems as though it’s been forever since I covered a genuine cinematic mind-fuck here – a real shame considering they’re just the thing this site was created to present. Luckily for me there exists Sompote Sands, whose entire oeuvre appears to have been carefully crafted to be mind-bashingly strange. MAGIC LIZARD, one of the last films Sands would produce before focusing his talents exclusively on the violation of Tsuburaya trademarks and copyrights, is no exception to that rule.
The film begins with the titular mystical beast, a gigantic frilled lizard some eight feet tall, riding around Bangkok on roller skates – then things start to get weird. A flying saucer invades Bangkok, and Jum Killer [from Tsuburaya's Jumbourg Ace television series and two previous Sands films] leaps out of it and invades a temple. In a cave under the temple King-ka is guarding a magical and immensely important crystal, so Jum Killer does the only sensible thing – attacks King-ka with a light saber, steals his treasure, and flies off to the moon. King-ka is understandably crushed and heads out into the temple courtyard, where he awakens the gigantic Yak Wat Jang with a spume of steam and begins begging him for help. Yak Wat Jang accepts, and flies off to meet up with Jum Killer on the moon.
Back in the courtyard, King-ka wanders by a crocodile statue, which suddenly comes to life due to his magical influence and begins eating skinny-dipping locals. King-ka plays around with the crocodile for a while, then runs off and begins interfering with a safari that just happens to be on the hunt for frilled lizards [in Thailand???]. The safari guys chase the magic lizard in a presumably humorous fashion, with the creature engaging in a bit of pole vaulting and even some wack-a-mole inspired antics, but it escapes from them by leaping into a house boat and using its tail as a motor. A variety of encounters between King-ka and the local wildlife ensues, including a decidedly disgusting encounter with an ox. King-ka probes the poor creature with his tail, a favor substantially repayed when the ox craps in the lizard’s mouth later on. Ahh, comedy.
I feel that it’s necessary that I mention that all of the animals in this film talk – from a wolverine to a family of disgruntled elephants to that damned crocodile that pops up from time to time. Even King-ka talks [and sings . . . about himself . . . constantly], and in the voice of a super-obnoxious child to boot. As though this needed any more of a weird factor . . .
King-ka runs back into the safari that’s tracking him, escapes from them, and ends up trapped in a strange cave with a pair of idiotic treasure hunters. Why a strange cave? Because it’s filled with fire-snorting golden oxen, sexually deviant skeletons, scary giant statue faces, and huge blood-pooping mosquitoes, that’s why. The mosquitoes attack King-ka, who we presume to be dead until he shows up again at a massage parlor covered in near-pornographic posters. There he interupts some would-be loving between a sleazy old doctor and a much younger woman. The crocodile shows up again and graphically eats the lizard-hunting safari, so King-ka uses his frill like a propeller and flies it into space. Yak Wat Jang [remember him from the beginning of the movie?] finally reaches the moon and, in a flurry of stock footage from earlier Sands films, beats Jum Killer to a shiny pulp. He returns with the stolen crystal to a grateful King-ka.
King-ka is advertised as a “super toy” during its opening credits, indicating that it was produced for the youth demographic, and I shudder to think of how much more screwed-up I’d be now had I seen this at an impressionable age. As it stands, Sands’ monster comedy is rotten and demented entertainment that I can’t imagine being honestly enjoyed by anyone of reasonably sound mind. That it received a theatrical release anywhere is shear insanity.
It appears that whatever creative spark existed in Sompote Sands when he was a young man studying cinematography in Japan had been thoroughly snuffed out by the time production on MAGIC LIZARD began. The narrative is ludicrously complex and well beyond being merely pointless. The inclusion of the Yak Wat Jang and Jum Killer footage, which had already appeared in both of Sands’ YAK WAT JANG VS. JUMBOURG ACE films, is obviously a budget-stretching maneuver on the part of Sands. Neither character is in MAGIC LIZARD for more than two or three minutes, leaving them with little to no influence on the outcome of the picture. The crocodile fits in a bit better, though the shots of it violently devouring skinny dippers and safari members seem out of place in a comedy.
But arguing context with a film that features a lingering shot of ox dung splatting into the gaping maw of its protagonist seems the very definition of futility. I suppose my biggest gripe with the picture is with the magic lizard itself, who is just too unredeemingly annoying for me to forgive. On the upside, this, with its colorful scope imagery, is the best photographed of the Sands films I’ve seen thus far – a small consolation to be sure.
Like the majority of Sompote Sand’s directorial efforts [the first incarnation of YAK WAT JANG VS. JUMBOURG ACE excluded], MAGIC LIZARD is readily and inexpensively available on both VCD and DVD from the major online Thai outlets. I screened the VCD for this review – the image quality was quite nice considering the format, though the audio left something to be desired.
And that’s it, I think. Sompote Sands is in dire financial straits after having been beaten in court by the obviously in-the-right Tsuburaya Productions, and a good portion of Chaiyo shares no longer reside with him as a result. One positive benefit of these monetary woes is that the world will probably never have to see another Sands film – something to give us all cause to celebrate. MAGIC LIZARD may be one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen. It’s also one of the worst. I suggest keeping healthy by exercising, eating right, and avoiding this at all costs. You have been warned.