31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 5: Hausu (1977)

I’ll just get this out of the way now: this is one of the weirdest horror movies I’ve ever seen. You should definitely see it.

To gauge the tone of a movie, I’ll sometimes cheat and check out the “Critical Reception” subsection of a movie’s Wiki page. I think I’m getting old, because not only do I not want too many “super-scary” movies on this month’s list, but I want them to be evenly punctuated with some horror comedies. Furthermore, I kinda need to know if it’s “comedy-but-still-really-fucked-up” horror, or a type of movie for which the humour trumps the horror. Maybe next year (or later in the month), I’ll be less of a wuss about it.

This afternoon (yes; afternoon!)’s movie was the 1977 Japanese horror flick Hausu (House), which was everything I expected it to be and more.  Because of this, I feel that, to break up the text of this review, I can only include my own homemade gifs of some of (not all – don’t want to give everything away) the most bizarre parts of this befuddling, brilliant mess of a movie, rather than static images pulled from Google.

look at the, uh, laughing watermelon. yeah?

look at the, uh, laughing watermelon. yeah?

It’s a haunted house movie, but bears no remake-ish resemblance to the 1986 Steve Miner-directed House. This movie concerns a group of seven teenage girls who are staying for the weekend at a countryside home owned by one of the girls’ elderly aunt. Each of the girls has a ridiculous nickname: Gorgeous, Kung-Fu, Mac, Fantasy, Melody, Prof and Sweet (I’ll leave it to you to infer the obvious personality traits, but Mac is the “fat” one). Everything is hunky dory (Gorgeous even makes friends with a fluffy white persian cat!) until the house and all its possessed objects start attacking them.

look at that, uh, fake bird just sliding across the screen!

look at that, uh, fake bird just sliding across the screen!

Being a ’70s movie, it’s not surprising that a) the costumes are awesome, b) there’s random bits of animation and c) there’s a fair bit of nudity. It’s just a little bit weird when said nudity is happening right when a person is being attacked (or is the disembodied naked torso accidentally facing the camera boobs-first?).

uh...look at those nice table manners?

uh…look at those nice table manners?

My Hippie, who has chosen to endure this month-long endeavour with me, remarked that the opening music and the copious amounts of foley artist wind sound FX made it sound very much like an old-timey Japanese video game. Apparently, this movie was considered the “spiritual predecessor to The Evil Dead” and I can very much see why.  The look a decapitated head gives Gorgeous as it bites her on the butt is something I can instantly recognize from something in one of the Raimi movies.

why is there a random painting of the sky in the countryside behind the bus? why??

why is there a random painting of the sky in the countryside behind the bus? why??

I had known this was going to be a crazy Japanese movie; I knew it was going to be quirky and a bit surreal and a wee bit Monty Python-ish. Somehow, it was still kind of spooky, even despite the terrible, overly-giggly, mind-numbingly blah fakey attempts at improvised dialogue; almost all of the cast were amateurs – people look at the camera several times, and during a voiceover montage, the actors MST3K themselves.

uh...

uh…

The SFX were pretty decent for the movie’s time, and is probably the best thing about the film overall, but with all the circle-out cutaways psychedelic Windows ’95 screen-saver animated overlays and dancing skeletons and bloodied fingers playing piano and random camera tricks (flipping an angle back and forth; hazy, super-slow frame rate; 3-4 instant replays of a single shot)….it sort of looked like when someone first gets Photoshop and then tries ALL the filters at once. My eyes!!

Best watched in the day, sober, and on a medium-sized TV. Do NOT turn up the brightness.

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