9.03.2010

House (Hausu) (1977): WTF?!?!


Officially the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen. That’s right. More trippy than The Holy Mountain. More fantastical than Videodrome. More confusing than Lost Highway. It’s HAUSU!!!!
Based on an idea from his seven-year-old daughter, director Nobuhiko Obayashi (I’ve never had to double-check my spelling so many times) forces an insane story upon us: a group of Japanese schoolgirls travel to a mysterious mansion only to be consumed by the home’s owner. 

Just to give you some hint of the fundamental weirdness, the girls’ names are Gorgeous (the pretty one), Fantasy (the imaginative one), Prof (the smart one), Kung-Fu (the athletic one), Mac (the chubby one), Melody (the one who plays piano), and Sweet (the one who cleans everything? Figure that out). Prior to seeing this movie, I was worried that I would be a bit bored before the main events occurred. I was wrong, however. There is not a single drab moment in Hausu, as every frame is packed with psychedelic, experimental craziness.

The fakest backgrounds ever are thrown behind the actors and they just go with it, sometimes calling attention to the “beautiful sunset” or “foreign land.” And the sound design must be heard to believe. I knew I was in for a treat when even a simple wind sound was so cartoony that it could have been manufactured by the director exaggeratedly blowing into a microphone. And let’s talk about the dialogue for a moment. Well, firstly it makes no sense. Secondly, it’s just amazing. Here’s a little sample: “Old cats can open doors, but only ghost cats can close them again.”

With all the bizarre visual elements, it is interesting that the film was made in 1977. The experimental technology feels like it’s just slightly ahead of its time. Not a single shot is normal, so I can only imagine that it must have been very time consuming to create Hausu in the format it is presented in. The fact that this was made before most digital technologies further reinstates that only an insane person would create such a movie.

This isn’t so much a review as a statement of confusion. How am I supposed to review a movie where a girl is literally eaten by a piano? Or a film that features a cat that meows to the music? Or a dancing skeleton? Hausu just has to be seen. There is no way to describe or critique it. If you ever get the chance to see Hausu, do it! You won’t regret it. It’s being released this October on DVD and Blu-Ray on…wait for it… The Criterion Collection! Watch the trailer if I haven’t been very convincing.



P.S. Obayashi is also known for directing those super awesome “Mandom” commercials with Charles Bronson. Do yourself a favor and watch this. You'll love it. I guarantee it.

12 comments:

  1. Hausu is probably one of my favorite Asian films purely because it is so damn wacky. Your confusion is pretty much in line with most reactions I've heard.

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  2. I love those Bronson commercials! He puts on so much cologne!

    I have been wanting to see Hausu for some time but after reading your thoughts and seeing some of those pics, I really need to get on top of it asap. I know that the Criterion edition was just released, so maybe that will be the way in which I go!

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  3. Wow just watched the trailer and I'm already trying to find a way to watch this before the DVD release. That looks like the weirdest most brilliant film ever created. Thanks for introducing it into my life!

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  4. I saw it months ago and I'm still trippin' balls!

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  5. Yeah HAUSU is pretty bananas! It's complete craziness from beginning to end. Looking forward to the Criterion release... hopefully there will be some cool extras on it.

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  6. I've been wanting to see this film for a while now. Now I'm more interested. Can't wait for the Criterion release!

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  7. hi there, i just discovered your great blog and is awesome. i've heard about this movie and the criterion pack and now i am more interested in this!

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  8. MEOW... MEOW.... MEOW... WITCH CLOSES DOORS FO SHO

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  9. I'm in the same club as Matt--must see sooner rather than later. Thank you thank you thank you for reminding me!!

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  10. Ive been interested in seeing this one for years now, but I cant imagine ANYTHING being more confusing than Lost Highway lol.. Im all for insane visuals!

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  11. Becky - is the whole movie as tripped out looking as the screen grabs you used? I hope so. Eaten by a piano?! Ok I'm on the hunt for it now. Danke.

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  12. @Carl, Haha. It's more confusing than Lost Highway, but in a good way....not really Lynchian at all.

    @Geof, The screen grabs don't even begin to do it justice....trust me. You just have to see it.

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