Cambodia’s Creature Features
Part I: The Snake King’s Wife
Cambodia is a small country in Southeast Asia that borders Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. During the 50’s and 60’s, Cambodian film production and cinema was a booming industry with millions of patrons flooding to the big cities to watch the latest Cambodian hits.
One of the most financially successful and critically acclaimed movies of this period was the creature feature The Snake King’s Wife (Puos Keng Kang)). Produced in 1971 and based around the popular Cambodian myth of a Snake Goddess, TSKW was unlike anything that Cambodia had ever seen and the plot goes a little something like this:
A young villager has an affair with the Snake King (a shape shifting python) which results in her getting pregnant. When her husband finds out, he murders her which caused her to give birth to hundreds of baby snakes. The husband attempts to kill all the snakes but one escapes and is transformed into a human baby by a local hermit. The child, Veasna, grows up to be a very handsome man and falls in love with a wealthy man’s daughter, Soriya. Despite being turned back into a snake by a witch hired by the daughter’s stepmother (jealous as she is also madly in love with Vaesna), they get married and have a child, Cantra. Cursed by the witch to have snakes instead of hair (a gorgon, by Greek standards), Cantra seeks revenge on the witch when her father is turned to stone and her mother succumbs to psychosis. After burning the witch alive, all of the curses are lifted with Vaesna and Soriya returning to normal and Cantra’s snakes becoming long, beautiful hair. Continue reading