Friday, 7 October 2011

Hausu AKA House (1977)

Madder than a bag of rabid badgers all wearing bowler hats, Hausu certainly isn't for all audiences and may turn off just as many horror fans as it manages to please. However, stick with this surreal, groovy, rainbow of supernatural shenanigans and bizarre deaths and you will find that it's not only a rewarding experience but also one that has influenced many other movies (intentionally or not).

The plot sees a young girl, spurning the opportunity to spend time bonding with her father's new love interest, taking a number of her friends to spend time at her aunt's house. The aunt is slightly eccentric and the house certainly has character but nobody realises just quite how much character until events are set in motion that put all of the girls in extreme danger. Because the house is hungry.

With all of the girls being named after their main traits (Kung Fu, Melody, Gorgeous, Fantasy, etc) it quickly becomes clear that Hausu is never aiming for something that's engrossing and believable. It's aiming to create a strange blend of lurid and colourful moments, fun sequences that border on the childish and a number of individual scare moments. If you can imagine an episode of The Monkees set during one particularly memorable Halloween (and, for all I know, they may have produced just such an episode) then you will have an idea of what to expect.

But don't dismiss this film as JUST one successive moment of weirdness after another. There's a bit more to it than that. Okay, so the acting is all quite over the top and the whole vibe may not be palatable to many but director Nobuhiko Ohbayashi, working from a screenplay by Chiho Katsura based on an original story by Chigumi Obayashi (daughter of Nobuhiko), works in a backstory that feeds into the events and also weaves one singular story strand from the start to the final scene that throws many of the visuals and events into question. Or not. You can take this movie in a variety of ways, which is a pleasure that so many of the finer Japanese movies offer. Give it a try.



  1. I bought the Criterion last year. One of the best buys I've ever made. I quite liked the film, its groovy quirks and all.

  2. It's a shame that we don't have a Criterion collection here in the UK though there are various BFI classics and numerous special editions of movies available. I'm still awaiting the R2 release of the Brazil special edition.