We’re experiencing a drought down here in Los Angeles, but this weekend we were hit with some much needed rain. With all our sunny winter beach days, one should have suspected that there’d be a storm a’comin’. There is no better time hide under a blanket and make it a Blockbuster (RIP) night.
My movie for the weekend was a psychedelic, haunted house romp of epic cheesiness called Hausu(House), a 1977 Japanese film directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. I first read about Huasu on the blog io9, and the film deserves major Rocky Horror cult status. After floating around in an obscure movie vacuum, it was released as a Criterion DVD in late 2010.
Hausu begins with lovely schoolgirl Gorgeous, who becomes jealous after her father introduces her to his fiance Ryoko, who gives some serious top model level fierceness, as well as a flowing white scarf that twirls around against the painted pastel sky like some cheap perfume ad. Gorgeous decides to plan a weekend getaway to visit her wheelchair bound aunt in the country, and invites her six friends who also have Spice Girl-esque monikers: Prof (the geek with glasses), Melody (the gifted musician), Sweet (the polite one), Mac (the chow hound), Kung Fu (the martial arts badass), and Fantasy (the heroine). The girls are escorted by the aunt’s fluffy white cat Blanche, who leads them on a train ride to the dilapidated house. Fitting with the crazy cat lady tradition, there is fluffy cat artwork all around the house. Blanche is one kooky feline, whose eyes shimmer neon green whenever one of the girls is killed or dismembered. The girls ooh and aah at the countryside with its plastic plants and buy a watermelon. The human actors combined with the cartoonish setting brings Mary Poppins to mind, if Mary had wielded a cleaver instead of an umbrella. It’s worth pointing out that Obayashi also directed commercials.
After exchanging pleasantries with the Aunt, and cleaning her house, the girls discover that they are doomed. After dinner, Mac decides to fetch the watermelon which she placed in the well, never to return. Fantasy goes to the well and pulls out Mac’s severed head, which bounces around and bites Fantasy in the butt. In another memorable and surreal scene, Melody is eaten by the Aunt’s black grand piano, with bloody body parts thrown everywhere, except for her fingers which are left tinkering with the keys. The audience soon finds out that the aunt must eat a young girl to stay alive.
The special effects are so low budget that the images of the girls’ flailing body parts look like they were cut and pasted with red marker used as artificial blood. Low budget, but memorable.