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.