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Asian female ghosts who made it to the big screen

Some say anything men can do, women can do better, which is probably applicable in the case of haunting people as well.

Asia being the Earth’s largest continent, is rich with legends, folktales, myths and of course ghost stories.

And the main characters of these haunting stories are mainly women. (The idea of a woman with long unruly hair appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the night does seem scarier than a short-haired man with a potbelly.)

Asian female ghosts have always been the central plot in many famous movies including Japanese film The Ring (1998) and Thai flick Nang Nak (1999).

Here are just some of the Asian female ghosts who are the subject matters of many horror movies:

1.Mae Nak Phra Khanong (Thailand)

Mae Nak Phra Khanong or Mae Nak is one of the most famous Thai female ghost. According to local legend, her story took place during the reign of King Rama IV (1851-1868).

Nak was a young woman married to Mak. When Mak was sent to war, Nak and their child died in childbirth. When Mak returns home, however, he finds her there with their child waiting for him.

Those who dare to warn Mak that he is living with a ghost are all killed.

Mae Nak appears in a long list of films from the 1950s including Nang Nak (1999), Ghost of Mae Nak (2005), Pee Mak (2013) and Make Me Shudder 2 (2014).

2.Krasue (Thailand)

Krasue is a young and beautiful female ghost with her internal organs dangling down from the neck (perhaps not so beautiful after all).

She has been making movie appearances since the 70s with film like Krasue Sao (1973) where she fights with a fellow krasue.

Showing her versatility, she also appears in erotic movies like Wan Krasue Sao (2013) and Krasue Rak Krasue Sawat (2014).

3.Nang Tani (Thailand)

Nang Tani is of the few Asian female ghosts who happens to be a tree-hugger.

She haunts wild banana trees and only becomes visible during the full moon.

Men who have wronged women, beware! They usually become her victims. But most of the time, she is reportedly benevolent.

Nang Tani’s earliest appearanceon the big screen is in Thai classic Nang Phrai Tani (1967).

4.Nang Ta-khian (Thailand)

Just like Nang Tani, Nang Ta-khian is another tree-hugger.

Her choice of wood is the Ta-khian tree or Hopea odorata.

She usually appears in reddish or brownish traditional Thai attire.

This spirit was featured in self-titled films, Ta-khian (2003) and Nang Ta-khian (2010).

Nang Ta-khian is believed to always haunt Ta-Khian trees. Credit: Pixabay.
5.Pop (Thailand)

Here comes a more malevolent female ghost. Pop is a cannibalistic spirit in Thai folklore who has a distinct taste for human viscera, or their internal organs.

There are plenty of movie appearances of Pop. One movie worth mentioning is Krasue Fat Pop (1999) where she had a girl fight with Krasue.

6.Pontianak (Malaysia)

If you are in Malaysia and you see a female ghost with long hair, chances are high it is a pontianak.

Similar to the Indonesian kuntilanak, she is a spirit of a woman who died while pregnant.

The most famous pontianak film in Malaysia is none other than Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam (2004).

Directed and written by Shuhaimi Baba, the film was a major box office success in Malaysia.

7.Sundel Bolong (Indonesia)

Another ill-fated female ghost, Sundel Bolong is the soul of a woman who died when she was pregnant but against all odds gave birth in her grave.

Some said she died during childbirth and curiously the baby came out from her back.

Legend has it she does not handle rejection gracefully. If a man rejects her, she castrates him.

Sundel Bolong appeared in her self-titled 1981 adult horror film and Legenda Sundel Bolong (2007).

8.Wewe Gombel (Indonesia)

This female ghost embraces the body-positivity movement. Clearly in need of a nip-tuck, Wewe Gombel has long, hanging breasts and kidnaps children.

Wewe Gombel was once a barren wife who caught her husband cheating on her. When she killed her adulterous husband,  the villagers went after her.

She eventually committed suicide but her spirit lingers on.

Wewe Gombel kidnaps mistreated or neglected children and takes care of them.

In movies, she has appeared in Wewe Gombel (1988) and Legenda Wewe Gombel (2012).

9.Kuchisake-onna (Japan)

After being mutilated by her husband for an alleged affair with a samurai, Kuchisake-onna (which means ‘slit-mouth woman’) like many Asian female ghosts, returns as a vengeful spirit.

She is known to give trick questions to her victims. According to modern legend, if she asks a potential victim, “Am I pretty?” and the answer is “no”, she kills them with a pair of scissors.

If the potential victim answers “Yes”, she takes off her mask revealing her husband’s handiwork and then asks again, “How about now?”

A no will lead you to be cut in half, a yes will leave you with a slit mouth like hers. It seems like a no-win situation, but local lore suggests that there is a method to elude her which is asking her back whether you are pretty, or answering ‘so-so’ which will make her stop and think, thus giving you time to escape.

In Japan, she has appeared in movies such as Slit Mouth Woman in LA (2014) and even in manga and anime.

10.Manananggal (Philippines)

Manananggal is a hideous, blood-sucking female vampire or monster which can split from her lower torso before flying into the night looking for victim.

Her choice of victims are sleeping, pregnant women (or simply those who are asleep… comforting thought, isn’t it?).

She spearheaded the Filipino horror movie industry with her silent movie aptly named Manananggal (1927).

Besides that, she also appears in Shake, Rattle & Roll (1984), Impaktita (1989) and Manananggal in Manila (1997).

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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