|Welcome to our Hausu… if you dare. Via.|
The movie in question is the 1977 self-described (and purely Japanese born) "fantasy horror" film Hausu--House as it's called in America. The plot is surprisingly simple. Annoyed that her father plans to bring his new fiancée on their yearly family vacation, Oshare (which can be translated as "fashionable" or "gorgeous") decides to abandon the trip and takes seven of her friends to her aunt’s house. The aunt, unbeknownst to the group, is actually an evil spirit who feasts on young girls. The spirit possesses Oshare and begins to hunt the women.
At its foundation House sounds no different than countless unsuspecting-teenagers-meet-gruesome deaths-at-the-hands-of-an-evil-antagonist horror flicks. Where House differs from typical slasher fare is its use of over-the-top surrealist imagery: killer lampshades, blood-spewing cat wallpaper, nefarious floating heads and man-eating pianos—all splayed against 70s retro, psychedelic animation that enchants just as much as it horrifies. Janus Film's trailer alone is a work of art:
"A fear too beautiful to resist!"
Nobuhiko Obayashi made his film directorial debut with House after a celebrated run in television commercials (remember those Charles Bronson MANDOM ads?), and in 2009 was awarded the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government for his stellar career in the entertainment industry.
House was success in Japan during the 70s (though never a "Jaws-size success" notes Chuck Stephens in his great essay "House: The Handmaindens"). The film has only recently gained the cult status it deserves in the U.S., thanks in part Janus Films distribution efforts, and savvy art house presenters across the States.
Japan Society screens House at our October 29 its OBAKE! costume party, and yesterday the Criterion Collection released House on DVD and Blu-Ray. Wherever you see it, you're in for a cinematic treat you won’t soon forget. But don't take it from us...