Directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi [Other horror films: Kawaii Akuma (1982), Reibyo densetsu (1983)]
This has got to be one of the craziest horror/comedies out there, and I’m not saying that simply because it’s Asian or slapstick. Hausu (or simply House) is a wild ride from beginning to end in so many different ways (filming techniques, animations, camera angles, music, etc.) that I don’t have the vocabulary to do the movie justice.
I won’t take too long on this, because I truly feel that this film is one that you have to see to experience. Even the best writers out there (of which I’m nowhere close to joining the ranks of) cannot properly explain what watching this movie feels like. It’s certainly a trippy flick, and occasionally silly, but it never once lets up on entertainment value.
Who doesn’t love the seven girls here? You have Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami), Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo), Fantasy (Kumiko Ohba), Prof (Ai Matsubara), Mac (Mieko Satô), Melody (Eriko Tanaka), and Sweet (Masayo Miyako), some of whom are forgettable, but as a package, they’re a lot of fun. Perhaps my favorite character was Prof (who actually had the most nudity in the film, which isn’t saying much, but came as a pleasant surprise), but I loved Kung Fu also (partially because she wore what looked like bikini bottoms for most of the movie). Fantasy was fun too, and Mac was always amusing.
It’s not really enough to call this an artsy film, because the style Hausu holds within goes beyond that. Again, it’s something I can’t personally put into words, but this whole movie, from beginning to the somewhat surprisingly somber end, was an experience in a way that few movies really are.
Of course, I’m not going to say the film is without flaws. It did get a bit too goofy for me a few times, such as the random banana scene, or perhaps the floating head. But at the same time, there were also some genuinely creepy scenes here, such as the moment when a woman walks into a refrigerator, or a scene too goofy to ever be condemned (the piano sequence, a true legend of cinema).
For some, perhaps this movie might be too zany and off-beat to leave a positive impression. I can certainly understand if some people walk away from Hausu with the belief that this tried too hard to be different. Personally, though, despite not being a fan of too much silliness, this movie has a perfect blend for my taste, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Hausu each time I’ve seen it.
This was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If interested, listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.