asian horror

Hausu [aka House] (1977)

Re-release poster for HOUSE (HAUSU), designed by Sam Smith.
With a campy, seventies flavor, Hausu is recognized as one of the classics in odd, Japanese horror. Though by today’s standards it is rather tame and outrageously cheesy, it still holds a certain charm that you just don’t see in a lot of movies today. With a panache that never takes itself at all seriously, Hausu is a fun, strange little film that connoisseurs of the comedy-horror genre will want to add to their viewing list.

Sweaty’s Stats
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Nudity

Not much, but there some free-lovin’, au natural hippie tit shots here and there.

Gore

None this time.  Fair warning, the effects in general fall into the cartoony, green-screened “so bad they’re good” category (though it is intentional).

Screwball Factor

Moderate to high.  It’s very silly throughout, but old, so this is a few years before Japan went totally off the rails.

02

Then again, there is a fine line between genius and insanity.

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Summary

We begin with two schoolgirls, Gorgeous and Fantasy, making ready to part ways for the summer. Gorgeous is looking forward to vacationing with her dad, while her friends, six somewhat aptly named girls (Fantasy the photographer, KunFuu the tomboy martial artist, Professor the nerd, Sweet the germaphobe(?), Melody the musician, and Mac the foodie) plan to spend the summer in a secluded cabin with one of their teachers, Mr. Togo, because there’s nothing at all weird about that.
03

Oho, that Mr. Togo his cleverly disguised innuendos!

Unfortunately, their plans fall through when Mr. Togo reneges on the cabin. And since Gorgeous’s dad has now sprung the whole, “here’s your new mom” thing on her, she decides to rebel by taking her friends to her estranged Aunt’s house for the summer instead. After a funky, seventies train ride, the girls arrive at the home of Gorgeous’s Aunt, a sweet, fragile, cat-lovin’ old lady in a wheelchair. You know how ever since Blofeld supervillains have often been portrayed as seated, stroking a long-haired, white cat?

04

Uh-oh. Don’t look now Gadget, but I don’t think this lady is quite what she seems.

It doesn’t take long before strange things start to occur, starting with the disappearance of Mac. The sudden displays of severed heads, dancing skeletons and anthropomorphic furniture does little to spook the girls however, as they consistently assume they’re just seeing things. Silly girls. With their hormones that make ‘em crazy and hallucinate and stuff.
05

Yep, once a month, like clockwork. The floating severed heads I can deal with, but do they have to bite so much?

Instead of doing the logical thing and getting the hell out of there, the girls instead opt to wait for Mr. Togo, our poster boy for inappropriate teacher/student relations.
06

Sexist because it’s old, or because it’s Japanese? You be the judge!

Eventually, Gorgeous does the first sensible thing in the film and leaves to fetch the police. Unfortunately, she’s possessed and ends up dancing in the fog instead, but hey. Can’t fault a girl for trying. Meanwhile, the others become trapped inside the house and are kookily devoured by the objects within, each death more ridiculous than the last.
07 (2)

This pic sums it up nicely.

The remaining few girls are approached by Gorgeous, now a patron of the spirit world, who informs them that her spinster Aunt is actually dead; though her soul has passed, her body lives on, waiting for her lost love. Having never married, she now devours the flesh of young, unmarried women. It all comes to a head with a final battle between girls and house, as they run from room to room fighting off objects, ghosts and evil cats. But will the girls escape? Will Mr. Togo and his penis save the day? Will KunFuu’s sexy, severed legs ninja-kick them to salvation? Or will things just get weirder?

08

Answer: D.

Final Thoughts

One of the more endearing aspects of this film is that it’s somewhat of a period piece.  Between the funky-ass bass-heavy soundtrack and the hippie clothing, it’s like turning back the clock to a time before horror really took off in Japan.  Cashing in on the “ghost story” mythology of old, the story seems like something pulled from the Edo period, again somewhat tame against the gratuitous torture porn that graces screens today.

Though the effects are purposely laughable and the pacing a bit slow, there is an enjoyable ridiculousness to the film that reminds me of American comedic horror around that time, something in perhaps the vein of Killer Klowns from Outer Space or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  I was first introduced to this film by a good friend and fellow horror aficionado (who actually runs a badass distribution site for hard-to-get horror flicks, if you guys are y’know, interested in that sort of thing) and found that I enjoyed it a little more in company.  Watch this one with good friends and strong drink, and I believe you won’t be disappointed.

Unintentionally funny moment:

vlcsnap-2014-10-05-09h59m06s86

Cat not trained to jump on command? Fuck it, just have a crewmember toss ‘er into the scene, nobody will notice.

Score 7.5/10, campy, fun, and funky

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IMDB for this hot, funky mess
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1 reply »

  1. Gosh, I didn’t know that Criterion put out campy Japanese horror comedies; that’s kind of cool in itself. Good review, makes me want to watch this tidbit of Asian terror.

    Like

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