Hausu

I always discuss important matters with children. Adults can only think about things they understand so everything stays on that boring human level.

—-Nobuhiko Obayashi

House (1977)

I knew I had some time to kill coming up so I decided to download a film from The Criterion Channel onto my tablet and watch it later. After some searching I decided on House – a Japanese horror film from 1977 that was supposed to be one of the weirdest films ever made.

And it was. Somehow this thing was made by Toho (the movie production company of Godzilla fame) in response to the success of Jaws. The two have nothing in common with each other – either in style, subject, or even a shared universe.

House is a trip – a strange, slightly perverse, bloody technicolor work of… if not crazed genius – at least extreme craziness. I would compare it to something else – but there is nothing else to compare it to.

The plot, such as it is, involves seven young Japanese schoolgirls with names that fit their personalities

Gorgeous – the main character – a thing of beauty

Fantasy – her best friend – a flighty girl who means well, but it subject to a lack of reality at most times.

Prof – bespectacled and brainy – the problem solver of the gang

Sweet – bubbly and naive – a bit frightened all the time

Mac – likes to eat and thinks of little else

Melody – a musical prodigy

Kung Fu – her name explains her gift – at one point she kicks her way out of her skirt and spends the rest of the film in her underwear.

These seven friends, after some misadventures, are bundled off for vacation to Gorgeous’ aunt’s house – which, of course is haunted, and very bad things begin to happen.

Fantasy finds Mac’s severed head in a well. The head proceeds to fly up and bite Fantasy on the ass. I told you it was weird.

What makes the film really strange and unexpected is the sweet, innocent and colorful tone which is mostly maintained even through the scenes of horror and bloodshed.

One thing I really liked were the beautiful painted backgrounds. At one point, once they leave a train, the seven girls are shown in front of an obviously painted scene of mountains and clouds. The camera pulls back revealing the painting – but it and the girls are in front of another, different panorama of mountains and clouds – this one also obviously painted.

So, if you want something more than a little different, but still very entertaining, pull up your streaming Criterion Channel and settle in for some House.

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