Sunday, March 22, 2015


OH MY. What in the world did I just watch?! Loved it by the way! This retro Japanese movie called 'Hausu' or 'House' from 1977, I thought it was bad and brilliant at the same time. Anyhow, a few days back my boyfriend shared some screenshots of an old Japanese horror movie he had watched on Hulu Plus, and figured it was to my taste: old-school music, bluescreen surreal stuff, like a retro horror manga... kitsch!

I asked, "Oh like the Umezu Kazuo Hyouryu Kyoushitsu 漂流教室 (Floating Classroom) horror stuff where heads and eyeballs fly all around and kids eating one another?"

"Yeah something like that."

"Ok cool."

Hahaha.... totally Japanese old-school wierdness, I'm in. I'd like to do this style if I ever produced e a horror movie lol.
Director/Producer: Obayashi Nobuhiko 大林宣彦
Screenplay: Katsura Chiho 桂千穂
Story: Obayashi Chigumi 大林千茱萸
Oshare (Gorgeous) - Ikegami Kimiko 池上季実子
Oshare's aunt - Minamida Yoko 南田洋子
Kunfu (Kungfu) - Jinbo Miki 神保美喜
Fanta (Fantasy) - Ohba Kumiko 大場久美子
Gari (Prof)- Matsubara Ai 松原愛
Makku (Mac) - Sato Mieko 佐藤美恵子
Merodi (Melody) - Tanaka Eriko 田中エリ子
Suito (Sweet) - Miyako Masayo 宮子昌代
Ema Ryouko - Wanibuchi Haruko 鰐淵晴子
Oshare's dad - Sasazawa Saho 笹沢左保
The story:
Oshare (or Gorgeous in the English subs, though I think 'oshare' means fashionable) has a new stepmother named Ryoko, and not happy about it. Missing her dead mother, she writes a letter to her maternal aunt who lives in an isolated house and asks to visit for the summer vacation. Her aunt agrees. Gorgeous invites 6 other school friends to join her. The house ends up eating them in various gruesome but psychedelic ways.
First off, this movie is one strange specimen: mostly nonsense but I have watched other Japanese horror rubbish and Hausu is not that incomprehensible and pretty straightforward. The house and aunt is right off the bat 'not right'. It doesn't take itself too seriously and doesn't treat its audience as idiots. I like how the wierd narrative doesn't bother explaining itself. The names are easy to remember, entirely cheesy and caricature-ish but a good fit to the tune of the movie imo. I doubt girls with such clashing personalities will ever hang out in real life lol.
Looks like director Obayashi Nobuhiko decided to utilise whatever creative concepts came to his mind. The more experimental, the better! They almost remind me of student work. Great for people with short attention spans lol. I like the low-school (lowbrow & old-school!) effects. He worked as a tv commercial director so that was evident in his style perhaps?
The movie is graphic intensive: pop and psychedelia, manga style illustrations, superimposition, the best parts are the visually strange ways of getting killed... script says you turn into a watermelon and get ate! How about getting swallowed by (of all things) a PIANO! Yup you should have ran when your fingers got chewed off by the keyboard! It must have been fun conceptualising it onto film, I can't imagine what was going on in their minds, or what they have been taking lol.
None of the scenes were especially gory because they were animated and resembled drawings. I found the overlay and blue paint chroma technique interesting, and cared more about the graphics than the plot itself. They also have a movie-within-a-movie scene, and even some shoujo elements! However if you mind nudity, please take note.
Hausu is one of those genre types that you either love or hate, and I can understand if anyone has some disdain for this film. Ok my review is biased because I like pop oddities... and kitties!

I enjoyed the visually-pleasing atmosphere, and the cast was eyecandy. The performances by the girls, however, were poor. They were amateurs (the actresses act as if they were in a commercial) so it was forgiveable; it did made the show comedic despite the gore. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be this cheesy but a serious look at household appliances finding ways to eat girls.
According to Wiki, Toho greenlighted the script because they were tired of making losses on comprehensible films, so they allowed this to happen by giving the youth demographic a shot at a plot that didn't make sense. The plan worked because despite bad reviews from critics back in the day, the film was successful amongst youths and has somewhat grown into a cult status because of its originality and uninhibited creativity. Understandably no one wanted to direct the film so Obayashi did it himself when Toho allowed him to do it 2 years after approving the script. His daughter came up with the story.
Spoilers alert:
About my favourite girl, that would obviously be Kung Fu. No, not because of her itsy bitsy shorts and damn fine face, but because her personality was appealing and better developed than the other girls who were more like giggly stick-in-the-muds. She was the only one who fought back. Also, cute riffs when she comes on! She also had more common sense - even more than that Prof girl. Best of all was her superhuman abilities - being decapitated by the lamp and torso-less, her legs had become a separate entity and fly a death kick to the villain. Too bad the legs couldn't win the cabinet lol.... just incredibly bizarre imagery.
As for memorable scenes, I give kudos to the piano eating Melody up, it seemed more detailed than the other girls' death scenes, with a bit more visual effects and props. They used many cuts (both film scenes and her method of death) but she didn't actually die like a normal person would. Her head still reacts even when her body was clearly in pieces just like Mac & Kung Fu. Her acting was terrible though.

An afterthought about the ending to Fantasy.... I am left with question marks??? Maybe she fantasized she was Sleeping Beauty but her knight in shining armour turned into a pile of bananas (or squashed by them) so she died by sleeping forever and got ate. A hypothesis. Also Prof who got killed in the cat's blood... well I think maybe it's acidic (chemistry), that was why she was nude... her clothes melted away, then she corroded away too because it looks like it. Yup.

If you find the screenshots interesting and you're keen for visual surrealism, old-school effects and don't want to use your brain too much, I recommend checking this little horror movie out!

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