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.
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.
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?).
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.
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.
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.