Monday, January 17, 2011

Random Film Review: Hausu (House)

Dir: Nobuhiko Obavashi
| Japan | 1977 | 87mins

This is the most bonkers film I've seen for some time. I'm not sure whether it's a masterpiece or a joke; probably both. Conceived by the director's eleven-year-old daughter, there are moments of genuine horror, beauty and eroticism; and many more moments of genuine kitsch and tacky 70s-style video effects. It's also very funny. There's a possessed, evil, Louis Wain-style crazy white cat called Snowy. A severed head bites a girl's bottom; a girl gets eaten by a piano only to have her severed fingers play the keys. It seems safe to say that it influenced Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films (and there's a scene which is a dead ringer of Ring).

It takes the now staple horror tradition of a group of young people staying in an old haunted house and one by one getting killed. In this case, it's six Japanese girls whose names reflect their personalities: Gorgeous, Fantasy, Prof, Sweet, Melody and Kung Fu. Like most horror films, it's less concerned with plot and more concerned with how many imaginative ways the annoying teenagers can be killed, as well as how many psychedelic, hallucinatory visual effects can be fit into one scene. Stop motion animation, collage, black & white, superimpositions and crazy, inappropriate music are all employed to give a visually astonishing, surreal roller coaster ride into another world. A psychedelic Dario Argento with a sense of humour meets The Wizard of Oz? Watch it and decide for yourself.

• Hausu is out now on DVD.

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