Jack Neo goes BOO!
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Jack Neo goes BOO!

Interview conducted on 26 August 2009 at GSC Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur.

What do you get when you combine horror with comedy? The answer is 'hor-medy', a term coined by Singaporean filmmakers Jack Neo and Boris Boo. Their latest offering "Where Got Ghost?" is the two directors' first hand at a 'hor-medy' that is tastefully presented in three short stories - "Roadside Got Ghost", "Forest Got Ghost" and "House Got Ghost". Cinema Online caught up with them in Kuala Lumpur and the duo couldn't stop recalling some of their spooky encounters! Don't we all love a good ghost story?


Jack Neo (L) and Boris Boo at the "Where Got Ghost?" press conference, GSC Mid Valley.

Jack, I recall you saying before that we've all seen how ghosts are portrayed in Chinese films, Malaysian films, Japanese films and so on, and that it would be interesting to see how a Singaporean ghost look like. For those who have yet to see one, how would you describe your version?
JN: I think Singaporean ghosts should not necessarily be scary. Most importantly, they appear for a reason, not necessarily to scare you or even kill you, but ghosts can be good thing! I think it should be that way.

Why decide to have three short stories in one film?
JN: I wanted to make it into a serialised movie. For example, there can be "Bus Stop Got Ghost", "Toilet Got Ghost" or "School Got Ghost", you see ghost is everywhere. So to stick to one location for an hour and a half would be a bit too long. Therefore, I want people to see short films. I was particularly inspired by the Hollywood film "Amazing Stories" (1985). The production skills and the way they tell the story is very interesting. The "Cocoon" was one of those short stories and they later made it into a full feature film and people found that very appealing.

You tend to include thoughtful messages into your films, even if it's a horror comedy. How so?
JN: My style is to share with you something after watching the movie. Even if it's to entertain my audience silly, I also want it to be very meaningful. After walking out of the cinema, I want them to feel that they've gained something. It's important to remind people because we're so busy everyday that we tend to take things for granted.

I see that the film's release date falls in the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival. Was this intentional?
JN
: Yes! It's just like Halloween films being released in conjunction with the celebration. This film also includes the Hungry Ghost Festival, so there's no other better time to release it till then.

By any chance, were there any supernatural encounters during filming?
BB
: There was this scene in the third story, "House Got Ghost", where Jack was walking alone back to his block after quarrelling with Mark and Henry. There were four extras burning paper in the background and if you pay attention to the lady in pink pants at the top left corner, you'd notice that she was standing at a 65-degree incline angle, like Michael Jackson, but without special effects! She wasn't wired to anything, but she was tilting at a very steep angle and her legs are straight. We were quite surprised and scared in a way. When we approached her, we asked "Eh? How come you were tilting in such a funny angle?" and then she replied "Was I? No, I was standing straight all the while!" So we asked her to do it again and she couldn't. Thus, we decided to include the original take in the film.

Yikes, I should've known this earlier so I could've seen it!
JN
: (laughs) Yea, go watch it again! This movie is basically a new genre that we're trying our hand at.
BB
: It's not easy to do because if it's a horror movie, after building up the entire creepy atmosphere, it's hard to laugh already. And if you're always laughing, then it's not scary. So doing a 'hor-medy' is kind of difficult because the laughter has to be planted into suitable places where you can laugh and relax a bit. That's the trick, to make you relax before we you fill you in with something scary, then after the scary part, we give you a joke so it's not so scary anymore.
JN
: Ever seen a disgusting ghost vomit blood, then rub it off on her clothes? (laughs)

Do you guys believe in ghosts?
JN
: I believe it because I've encountered it. However, my encounter was not direct in the face, but you know that they exist.

What was your encounter?
JN
: One night at about 2 a.m. when I was on duty in the army camp, I was just watching the TV and suddenly the door beside it creaked open (mimics sound of the door slowly opening). And I wondered how it could've opened on its own as the door was linked to another room with no windows or doors. So it couldn't have been the wind. So nevermind, I closed the door. Then I talked to the air.
BB
: Wow, you're quite brave!
JN
: Yeah, quite brave because I was very young like 21 or 22 years old. So then I talked to the air, "Ok if you want to prove to me that you exist, when I close the door, you open one more time and show me." So I closed it and sat back down, then three seconds later (mimics sound of the door slowly opening). I said, "Ok, I know you're around, but please don't show yourself! I don't want to see you," and I just left the door open. This challenge is very dangerous. Imagine suddenly it said, "I would show you all," then all the doors and windows would open (laughs).

How about you Boris?
BB
: When I was in Taiwan for the army, two mates and I stayed in a hotel where it had a double and a single bed. I took the single bed and on the first night itself, as I woke up to go to the toilet, I saw a half naked, slightly bald and tan guy..
JN
: Guy ah? He's a guy?!
BB
: Yeah, I saw him squatting at the end of my bed looking at the double bed. So I thought to myself, "Oh no. Is this what they call a ghost?" Then I contemplated, if I turn on the light, it might disappear. But what if turned it on and the ghost is still there? What am I going to talk to him?! Anyway it was a hotel bed, if I wet the bed then it's fine. So I continued to sleep.
JN
: How come you didn't walk out of your room?!
BB
: It's at the end of my bed! (Stutters then laughs) It wasn't looking at me, so I went to sleep.
JN
: How long was it there?
BB
: I don't know. I fell asleep after that.
JN
: You still can fall asleep?! WAHLAOWEH! This reminds me, I was sleeping one night at a hotel, when suddenly my body was locked and I couldn't move. Then I felt a big sized person crawling over me! I'm not joking. Suddenly it disappeared... then it came towards me from my legs and held my arms down. I could physically feel that someone was holding me down. Then my friend told me that there are two ways to get out of it, one is to pray and the other is to scold it in vulgar language. So I scolded it out loud and it worked. Interestingly, when my friend asked if I had put my arms across my chest or put my hands on my chest, I said "Yes" and realised that when you sleep like that, it's a sign for the ghosts to come as dead bodies are normally placed positioned that way.
BB
: Where was the place?
JN
: The place is not important, if you sleep and put your hands like that.. Eh, you should try.
BB
: No way!

(laughs) Thanks guys for those very enlightening stories. It's been a real pleasure and I wish all the best for "Where Got Ghost?"
JN & BB
: Thank you.


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