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(1977)

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3/10
Pretty stupid...but possibly worth seeing once.
MartinHafer3 November 2010
I have a very high tolerance for weird movies and I've seen several super-weird Japanese movies that I loved (such as "Happiness of the Katakuris"). However, to me a movie has to be weird AND good--unfortunately, I just found "House" to be weird.

This movie really defies description, though I will try. It looks like a horror movie made by children. And, the children consulted with Salvador Dali and Timothy Leary (who gave them a few hits of acid). It's just bizarre...and quite bad as well...but a bad that you might just find yourself watching because it's so weird and you want to find out what the payoff is at the end. Sadly, there just didn't seem to be any payoff and when the film ended I felt like "I waited all that time JUST for that?!".

The first portion of the film establishes the seven teen characters. All are stereotypes and the writer didn't even bother giving them real names--just nicknames to describe their one-dimensional natures. Some examples: the pretty girl is called 'Gorgeous', the smart one is called 'Prof' and the one who does nothing but eat and talk about eating is 'Mac' (presumably named after McDonald's or its famous sandwich). And, as a result, the characters never seemed real--more like caricatures. Most of their antics in the first 15 minutes is highly reminiscent of an episode of the Japanese Anime "Azu Manga Daio"--though I can probably safely assume you haven't seen it. I am probably the only 46 year-old man in America who has watched the series since my oldest daughter was a huge fan a few years ago and prodded me into watching it.

The seven walking stereotypes all go to see Gorgeous' Aunt during their school holiday. The Aunt is a weird lady in a wheelchair and while she seems nice, she isn't--but she, too, has almost no personality. Soon bad things start to happen--one by one the girls disappear and there's lots and lots of very, very unrealistic blood, body parts and mayhem. Part of the lack of realism can't be entirely blamed on the film--it was made in 1977 and even good films from then (and this isn't one of them) look pretty poor today. To make it worse, the movie was almost all special effects during the second half--so if you like really crappy looking effects, you are in for a treat.

As I said above, the movie was so bizarre that despite its many, many limitations I kept watching. Part of it was definitely out of curiosity and part is that I was assuming there'd be a great ending to tie everything together. After all, it IS a film from the vaunted 'Criterion Collection'. But I felt the ending was in fact pretty dumb.

In addition to being bad, the film has a few problems. Many adults will simply give up--mostly because it looked as if the film makers weren't even bothering to appeal to them (this was confirmed in one of the special features on the disk). I could, however, imagine some adults liking the film...too much. That's because the pedophiles out there might enjoy the scenes involving these nude pubescent girls (who, naked, appear about 12 to a Western audience). Icky. And, because of the nudity, violence and the like, I really wouldn't want kids watching it--though I am sure they'd like the cheesy violence and blood.
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Strange
Michael_Elliott2 December 2008
House (1977)

** (out of 4)

aka Hausu

Extremely bizarre Japanese film about seven schoolgirls going to see one of their aunts in a creepy house, which has all sorts of strange things going for it. Soon the girls start to be killed off one by one but what's the reason behind the murders? The murders which also include one getting eaten by a piano. This film is basically another version of Ten Little Indians but it mixes a certain visual style that could only be compared to Dario Argento's Suspiria, which was released the same year. I'm really not sure who to recommend this film to but I'm going to guess fans of the bizarre and surreal will most likely enjoy this as there's really not too much of a plot but there is a lot of strange visuals. The entire movie is pretty much strange from start to finish and I must admit that if there was a story going on, and I'm sure there is as the young girl is going to her aunt to learn more about her dead mother, then it went right over my head. The characters themselves are all rather interesting because they are named after their "specialty" with one being Kung-Fu and she gets some of the better moments in the film. The surreal nature and the mixture of the living and the dead makes one wonder if Tim Burton didn't watch this before making Beetlejuice. The film contains a lot of special effects but they all look very good and you can't help but think most of them would be done today with the use of CGI. These effects add to the campy nature of the film but it was the jokes that really didn't work too well with me. Perhaps my sense of humor is just too dry but the over the top camp just rubbed me the wrong way. I guess some might say I didn't get the film and that's probably true but I do respect what the director was going for here. This is certainly one of the most unique looking films I've ever seen and it's doubtful I'll ever forget it but at the same time I can't say I look forward to watching it again.
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7/10
Eye-popping madness from a Japanese maverick
Leofwine_draca5 September 2011
A weird and vibrant haunted house flick unlike anything else you'll ever see. HOUSE is revered by some as a classic of kitsch Japanese cinema; it's so outlandish, so bizarre that it avoids all attempts at pigeonholing and ends up in a genre all of its own. I guess you could call that genre "anything goes".

HOUSE resembles THE EVIL DEAD, not in look or style, but in the pure level of inventiveness on display. It's a film that's full of imagination and energy despite the often languid pacing, and the story of a group of schoolgirls visiting a crumbling mansion in the deep countryside is only the start of it. In one of the film's bizarrest highlights, a guy is transformed into a pile of bananas. It's that kind of film.

The real star is director Nobuhiko Ohbayashi, who delivers the kind of drug-crazed madness that fans of cult cinema can only dream of. Once the hauntings begin, they don't let up, and Ohbayashi delivers a non-stop roller-coaster of crude, low budget and silly special effects. There are disembodied heads, evil animated cat spirits, a carnivorous piano and much more besides. The cartoonish action on-screen is accompanied by a sublime music score, of which the central theme is the type to get in your head and stay put. I won't say anymore about the film, for fear of spoiling the effect, but if you're a fan of outré cinema then you simply have to see it.
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5/10
super weird Japanese horror
SnoopyStyle3 July 2015
Oshare nicknamed Gorgeous is spending summer vacation with her father but his eerie girlfriend Ryouko is going too. She misses her mother and instead is going to her aunt's home. She's bringing her six school friends. Then Ryouko decides to surprise her there as a first step to becoming her stepmother. The aunt is wheelchair bound and the house is a little run down. Then strange things happen and the girls disappear one by one.

There is some crazy surreal stuff going on here. It's some kind of schoolgirl dream or maybe a male fantasy of a schoolgirl dream. The sound design is nuts and so it the visual. It's definitely not scary. It is weird bordering on experimental. About halfway through, I stop caring about all the craziness. It's almost a spoof. It becomes a matter of how much weird stuff can one movie pack in.
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7/10
I May Need to Watch This Again
Hitchcoc5 September 2015
I'm generally pretty patient. I've sat through some really awful movies (not a positive trait). I almost jettisoned this one because I could hardly stand to listen to the high pitched screech of those girls. They are about as obtuse and non-realistic as they can be. Their dialogue is strained and utterly vacuous. They have names that describe qualities (except for Kung Fu, who has her own talents). I began not caring what happened to them. If this film was not part of the Criterion Collection, I would have mowed the lawn. That said, I haven't had such a bizarre experience since seeing David Lynch's "Eraserhead." I swear that this is a transcripted nightmare. It isn't a new idea in horror films to have a house that breathes as a life form, but none of the others (as far as I know) used tongue in cheek encounters and sight gags like this one does. As each of the girls is disposed of in some unique way, the others seem to endure. It's my understanding that the director, Obayashi, did a number of commercials. This would have added to the use of short episodic bits, tied together by a non-existent plot. Watch at your own risk and keep an open mind.
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1/10
Messy and Annoying Japanese Ghost Story
claudio_carvalho22 March 2017
The high-school vacation is coming and the student Oshare intends to spend the period with her father in his villa; however she finds that his girlfriend Kyouko will be with him and Oshare gives up going. Meanwhile her best friends will be camping with Keisuke Tôgôbut, but he has a problem and calls off the camping. Oshare writes a letter to her estranged aunt that lives in the country asking whether she could go with her friends Kunfû, Fanta, Gari, Makku, Merodî and Suîto to spend the summer vacation at her house. They are welcomed by Oshare's aunt but soon weird things happen since the aunt is a ghost and the house is haunted.

"Hausu" is a messy and annoying Japanese ghost story. The silly screenplay is irritating and the music score is awful. Hard to understand why some people consider this garbage cult. My vote is one (awful).

Title (Brazil): "Hausu"
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5/10
"All of us will disappear, I'm sure of it."
classicsoncall27 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The one thing I will grant the picture is that it's a unique and strange visual experience. It starts out interestingly enough in a creatively stylized manner, but then gets too clever by half, much too gimmicky, and ultimately incoherent as the story progresses. Well, maybe not incoherent entirely, because you can follow the story well enough, as a group of Japanese teenage girls falls victim to a demonic house in the countryside of Satoyama Village.

In checking the credits page, it appears that the version I caught on Turner Classics changed the name of all the principal characters, so that the main character named 'Angel' on the IMDb title page became 'Gorgeous' in the film I saw. In no particular order, the remaining six girls went by the names of Fantasy, Sweet, Mac, Kung-Fu, Prof and Melody. Their English names in general referenced a character trait, so that 'Melody' was accomplished as a musician, and 'Kung-Fu' was a martial artist. Even the cat's name was changed, another reviewer called it 'Snowflake', while in the story I watched it had the very non-Japanese name of 'Blanche' - how they came up with that one I'll never know.

Although it seems that the director's take on this movie was to produce something resembling horror, there's just too much goofy stuff occurring that takes the horror element right out of it. I'll refer to just two of the deaths in the story - one by a piano eating Melody (how appropriate!), the other involving Kung-Fu getting chomped by a ceiling light. After a while, one's interest in the story wanes because it's all just a bit too bizarre.

As for the main protagonist, Angel/Gorgeous winds up being 'consumed' by the Auntie the girls originally intended to visit. Gorgeous was upset that her widowed father was going to remarry after eight years, so a change in vacation plans brought Gorgeous and her friends to Auntie's home in the country. In an effort to make friends with Gorgeous, the fiancé Ryoko Ema set out for Auntie's home, and upon arriving, the picture somehow totally disconnects from the comic/horror element, dissolving to a message about how the 'spirit of love can live forever'. Maybe it all had to do with the translation, but whatever it was, any message the director was attempting to convey was simply lost on this viewer. And I don't get lost too easily.
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7/10
Very Bizarre Film
gavin694224 October 2012
When Oshare finds out that her Father's girlfriend is joining them on their summer trip, she and her friends decide to go to her aunt's farmhouse instead. From the moment they arrive, strange things begin to happen and the girls slowly begin to realize Oshare's Aunt may not have their best interests in mind.

I saw this film on the big screen at the Portage Theater in Chicago as part of a 24-hour horror movie marathon. I had never heard of it prior to it being added to the lineup, and was particularly excited to see something I considered obscure. While it was nothing like what I expected, I definitely witnessed the most unusual film of the marathon.

While this is a horror film, it is done in a very non-traditional horror style that I think only the Japanese can get away with. There are plenty of silly moments and many fantasy elements. At times, you just have to say "what the heck" -- had the same film been made in America, I think people would not have been able to handle it.

My only real problem with it was the score. The same theme runs through the movie again and again. While I understand the importance of tying together different scenes with an underlying score, they repeated the same tune more than twenty times... by the halfway point, it became rather tedious (one guy in the audience audibly said, "oh no, not again" and despite being an annoyance, I agreed with him).
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10/10
war's effects manifest in horror-fantasy
lee_eisenberg13 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It's easy to interpret Nobuhiko Obayashi's "Hausu" as a bizarre horror-fantasy. Let's face it: a bunch of teenage girls who go to a house that swallows each of them, how could anyone take that seriously? It sounds more like something that should star Bruce Campbell.

Ah, but when you watch the interview with the director on the Criterion release, that's where it changes. You see, it's understood that the aunt died while waiting for her fiancé to return from WWII, so her spirit has stayed in the house and eats girls who enter. But the director has a more personal connection. He is from Hiroshima and survived the bombing, but he lost friends in the bombing. In that respect, the movie is an indictment of war and war's lasting effects.

Of course, even if you don't realize that, the movie is still a fun romp. It's got some of the weirdest sequences imaginable. The sort of movie that you have to see to believe, and I have no doubt that you'll enjoy it.
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9/10
Gloriously gonzo Japanese supernatural horror pip
Woodyanders21 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Sumptuous Japanese schoolgirl Gorgeous (stunning slender brunette Kimiko Ikegami) and her six best female friends travel to the countryside to spend summer vacation at a creaky rundown house owned by her ailing estranged aunt (a splendidly sinister portrayal by Yoko Minamida). The girls soon discover that said abode is overrun by evil demonic spirits that are intent on eating them.

Director Nobuhiko Obayashi, working from a blithely berserk script by Chiho Katsura, brings a dazzling and wildly imaginative cinematic style and tremendously galvanizing go-for-it panache to the outrageous premise, maintains a breathless brisk pace throughout, pays affectionate homage to everything from cartoons to silent films, and tops everything off with a wickedly funny sense of kooky humor thanks to such jaw-dropping hysterical sights as a floating decapitated head biting a gal's butt, a lethal carnivorous piano, a bleeding clock, and a cat painting vomiting forth gallons of the red stuff. The terrifically tacky (not so) special effects, gaudy painted backdrops, obvious miniatures, goofy gore, and fake fruit punch blood all add immensely to this movie's considerable loopy pop-arty appeal. Moreover, the gals are all quite charming and fetching, with Miko Jinbo as the tough take-charge Kung-Fu, Ai Matsubara as the nerdy Prof, and Mieko Sato as the gluttonous Mac rating as the definite stand-outs. Yoshitaka Sakamoto's vibrant color cinematography provides a bright and splashy look. A totally bonkers blast.
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3/10
Only Last 20 Minutes Is Fun
ccthemovieman-13 December 2010
I can't say the hype for this movie came anywhere close to matching what it turned out to be - a very amateurish and, for the first two-thirds - boring film. I mean, let's me honest about this. The last 20 minutes is wild, no doubt, and fun to watch, even with super-primitive special-effects, but it doesn't make up for the root-canal-painfully slow and inane first 65 minutes.

A bunch of high school girls wind up at "Auntie's house" for the night. En route, we get an hour of giggles and each one calling each other "Gorgeous," "Fantasy," "Professor," "Melody," "Kung Fu" and other assorted corny names. The fun doesn't really start until the last part when all hell breaks loose and the girls start fighting for their lives as the goofy house, led by the big white cat and the "lonely" evil aunt, seem to want to kill them all. That's after one or two of the girls had disappeared.

Maybe 30 years ago, the FX looked cool, but they are so bad now if almost laughable.....so my advice to to rent the film and keep your expectations low, grind your way through the first hour and then you'll be sufficiently entertained at the end.

Just because the overpriced Criterion line put this out, it doesn't mean it is some arty "masterpiece." It is anything but that.
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4/10
Did You See What I Saw?
rmax30482326 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'll keep this brief, in keeping with its quality. It's a noisy haunted-house comedy about giggling school girls seeing visions and the like. It's splashy and full of lurid colors and directorial razzle dazzle. It's haunting too, or at least the irrepressible musical theme is -- a kind of children's melody that appears throughout the movie in a dozen guises: as overscore, as a waltz, as a tinkle on a music box.

I have nothing against melodies for kids. I mean, "Sesame Street" came up with some catchy tunes and look what Mozart did with "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Brahms wrote lullabies. But this just never stops. It's going round and round in my head right now, a musical carousel. Even the voices are telling it to stop, but does it listen? Don't make me laugh; I'll lose the beat.

Anyway there is some convoluted story about one of the half dozen girls' widowed father being remarried -- to a knockout beauty too, Haruko Wanibuchi. Her name is ethnic but I think if you shook her family tree an American sailor might fall out of it.

It's not a total loss. The haunted house is colorful, intricate, and fascinating in its layout. The images are less gaudy as the camera explores its passages and its weird dove-colored garden. And there are courageous references to World War II -- "A long time ago, Japan was in a great war." And there is an unexplained and shocking shot of an exploding atomic bomb. The teen-aged girls are attractive, but only in the way that all teen-aged girls are attractive in their unself-conscious purity. They don't look like the porcelain dolls some people find in Japanese skin flicks. Oh -- and they're polite too, in an old-fashioned way, covering their mouths with their hands when they laugh or giggle.

But these virtues are swamped by the slapdash character of the film itself. I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it, unless, of course, there is some deep message in it that I missed in its entirety.
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9/10
A serious contender for weirdest film ever.
BA_Harrison15 March 2012
Barring a brief scene in which supernatural long black hair emerges from the surface of a bath to threaten the oblivious bather, Hausu is completely unlike any other Japanese ghost flick I have ever seen. In fact, it's completely unlike any other film I have ever seen, period. A relentless phantasmagorical smörgåsbord of psychedelic comic-book craziness, this is the weirdest trip you could possibly take without the aid of Class-A pharmaceutical stimuli.

To tell his tale of seven cute Japanese schoolgirls spending their summer break at a haunted house, director Nobuhiko Ohbayashi employs a plethora of experimental film-making techniques: kaleidoscopic colours, stop motion animation, matte backdrops, rear projection, crazy scene transitions, unconventional camera-work, erratic editing, mad musical interludes. You name it, Ohbayashi uses it.

The result is a totally off-the-wall piece of visual mayhem—kinda like Takashi Miike's Happiness of the Katakuri's crossed with Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead, only more bizarre—that will either prove totally irresistible (as it did for me) or utterly irritating. One thing's for sure... with a flying decapitated head, a man turning into bananas, a creepy ghost cat, a kung fu cutie in pants and a vest, a dancing skeleton, giant floating lips, a touch of gratuitous nudity and some sneaky up-skirt action, a gecko-killing chandelier, a voracious piano played by severed fingers, and a savage mattress attack, you can't accuse it of being just another dull and predictable J-Horror.
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9/10
a candidate for weirdest film ever imagined and realized
Quinoa198431 October 2009
House (Hausu) has to be seen to believed, preferably with a full audience in a theater or with some friends ready for anything that can happen in a movie. The haunted house of this movie provides the kind of freakish nightmare things and just total bizarre flashes of comedy that you wouldn't be able to find in a Manga. And the style of the film that sets up this kind of not exactly is it ghost story is already warped to a trippy state of things. If you think you've seen weird, pick up this movie on video or try to find whenever its playing at an art-house or wherever, and give it a shot. You'll be surprised and befuddled and laughing all the way home.

It's about... oh dear me, it's about I guess seven girls (named 'Prof' and 'Sweet' and 'Kung-Fu' and 'Mac') who go with one of the girls to her Auntie's house for the summer. This after the one girl has become distraught and confused as to what to do or say to her composer father ("So good Leone thought I was better than Morricone" haha line), and there is not much else to do one guesses that to go off to an Auntie's house. If this sounds like a thin plot it's because it is. But House, from its director (first-timer!) Obayashi, is not like any other film you might have seen. It's not original in its premise exactly- I'm sure there are other J-horror movies or just slasher movies with a crazy killer waiting for victims to come- but it is an original film.

So original, in fact, it sometimes threatens to come apart at the seams and explode in front of the audience. The pace is fast-fast-fast and then slow for a little, then BANG there it goes again. A flashback to 1940s era Japan for one of the girls is seen by all of the girls as if in an old newsreel. When they get to the house, or even before that with the watermelon salesman, there's some inklings of trouble. The Auntie is always excited to see if they're hungry - or if she is. A well has a floating head come out. A piano eats someone who plays for too long. And a cat also gets in on the killing or maiming or whatever action, a lot. Indeed if you love those recent "Keyboard Cat" videos on youtube, you may just about lose your cool with this one.

It's not a 100% excellent execution of pure Gonzo cinema (one scene that goes into that kind of choppy style one often sees in Wong Kar Wai is done at a couple of points that slows things down and not in a good parody-romantic way), but aside from a couple of minor complaints it's a grand slam. It's pure movie-making in a great sense of the word, since its filmmaker is just so in love with doing a kitchen sink with a kung-fu grip with giving a wide smile and lots and lots of blood in front a blue-screen. You'll laugh, you'll... laugh some more, and give a few looks like you just saw the most confusing thing in your life. Hausu is a marvel that is bizarre for *Japan* nevermind America and the rest of the world, and should be seen by anyone interested in the kind of kick-ass-do-whatever-for-crazy-art it takes (i.e. Riki-OH) that you can't help but admire it even if you're left speechless.
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8/10
Japanese Schoolgirls in the House of Weird
Coventry8 November 2009
I've heard and read on numerous occasions that "House" is an incredibly weird and far-out Japanese interpretation of a haunted house movie, but the truth is that absolutely nothing can fully prepare you for how crazy & demented this film really is. To simply label "House" as a horror movie would be a serious insult, as this is more like a fairy-tale on hard drugs, a wacko coming-of-age parable and even somewhat of a musical comedy. Even the often encountered description, saying this film is what "Beetlejuice" would look like if directed by Dario Argento, comes to naught. If you really must compare this to any other films, then rank it alongside the weirdest cinematic experiments ever made, like "El Topo", "I Walk like a Crazy Horse" and "Possession". I think you can philosophy about the deeper meanings and symbolism of "Hausu" for weeks, and every opinion and interpretation could be assumed as correct. Me, personally, I regard the plot as a sort of version of "Hansel and Gretel", but with seven Japanese Gretels and no Hansel and with an auntie in a remote creepy castle instead of a witch in a gingerbread cabin in the woods. Summer vacation is coming up, but the holiday plans of the cute teen Oshare abruptly become canceled when his father introduces his new and much younger girlfriend. Instead of traveling with them, Oshare invites her six closest school friends – all of them with adorable nicknames based on their personalities, like Fantasy, Kung-Fu and Melody – to head out to the countryside and pay a visit to Oshare's aunt whom she hasn't seen since her mother died. The aunt's welcoming is extremely warm and gracious, but she as well as her estate and even the white cat Snowflake are nevertheless surrounded with an aura of mystery and creepiness. Agatha Christie style, the girls then subsequently meet their highly imaginative deaths one by one. The girl who's always hungry, for example, has her head replaced by a watermelon and the musical chick literally becomes consumed by the piano. "House" is filled with optical illusion special effects that are not exactly terrifying but nevertheless very deadly to the main characters. Even though director Nobuhiko Obayashi maintains the ambiance of a fantasy/fairy-tale movie, the imagery he uses is often bizarrely nightmarish and grim, with decapitated heads in wells and tap-dancing skeletons and whatnot. The girls' characters are beautifully drawn, and hence you feel a lot of sympathy for each and every single one of them, and it's a very stylish film altogether. Especially for being a late 70's movie – when the horror movies were at their most explicitly rancid and exploitative – "Hausu" is an artistic and elegant accomplishment and it honestly deserves to be wider known, globally acclaimed and more discussed.
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10/10
An experience
BandSAboutMovies4 January 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Nobuhiko Obayashi died this year, but left behind a career that began as an experimental filmmaker and somehow moved into mainstream success and around 3,000 commercials. At least in the U.S., he's best known for this movie, which got its start when Toho asked Obayashi to make a movie like Jaws. His daughter Chigumi gave him several ideas that he worked into a script with Chiho Katsura. For two years, no director wanted to make the movie*, so eventually, Obayashi made it himself with a cast of nearly all amateur actresses**. So much of what ended up on the screen was influenced by Hiroshima, where the director grew up and saw every one of his childhood friends die in an atomic blast.

This is truly a haunted house tale told by and for children. Obayashi even wanted the special effects to look unrealistic, as if made by a child. So let that inform the story of Gorgeous, who has been planning a summer vacation with her father, who has been Italy scoring film music***.

Instead, she learns that she has a new stepmother and makes the decision to visit her aunt, along with her friends Prof, Melody, Kung Fu, Mac, Sweet and Fantasy, all of who have names that completely explain who they are.

From there on out, honestly, you're on your own. House is a movie that should be experienced instead of read about, because this is the kind of movie where pianos can eat children, where watermelons become human heads and heroines can burst into flames within happy endings.

Man, according to the IMDB trivia section, Obayashi proposed a story for what would have been the 16th Godzilla film, which would have used the same crew as House. In this story, a girl named Momo finds the dead body of Godzilla, who is really a pregnant female alien named Rozan who died from diabetes, and then she becomes a spaceship to take children to her home planet to bring Godzilla back. There was, of course, a female monster who shot flames out of her breasts.

*Obayashi would later say that a producer told him that Toho was tired of losing money on comprehensible films, so they decided to let him make something that was incomprehensible.

**Most of those actresses had worked on his commercials, other than Yoko Minamida who played the Auntie. Also, Obayashi was a smart guy, because he made a series of movie tie-ins before the movie was even made, promoting the script so that Toho saw that it would be a success. He published a commercially-successful manga, radio drama and soundtrack album with the band Godiego before Toho finally said that he could make the movie himself.

***How weird would it be if her dad was scoring Suspiria, a movie that House shares the idea of childhood against horror, some level of nonlinear storytelling and primary colors with?
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9/10
Hausu
Scarecrow-8824 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There are some films that are bizarre beyond words. HOUSE is such a zany and really warped haunted house tale, unlike your typical of the genre, this one has such surreal sequences as a girl being eaten by piano(..her decapitated fingers actually playing the musical instrument afterward!), a girl's removed lower torso actually karate kicking a painting of a cat causing the evil cannibalistic spirit to overflow with blood, a disembodied head biting a girl on the buttocks, mattresses attacking a girl, giant lips attempting to eat the remaining girls not yet swallowed, and our lead girl's face shattering like glass, her body becoming a human inferno. This has to be seen to be believed. The premise is bonkers. A young teenage student, Gorgeous, rebels against her widower father after he informs her of his future plans to wed a new love in his life. Along with her fellow school chums, including Fantasy(..who's in love with a teacher named Mr. Togo), decide to spend their summer vacation at Gorgeous' mysterious Auntie's creepy mansion resting on a hill overlooking a uninhabited town(..featuring only a very suspicious watermelon salesman!). Over the night, the girls discover that wheel-chair bound Auntie is actually a ghost awaiting her lover to return home after heading off to war. Auntie eats unmarried women which provides her with a life force to continue living as an undead spirit with supernatural powers witnessed over the length of the movie. Auntie and her white cat Blanche are ever present images as the girls futilely attempt to escape, succumbing to her unwillingly. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi never allows the film to look realistic and the music is often melodic featuring a bubble-gum score to match the energetic, naive teens who walk right into a truly difficult and unusual situation, to say the least. Obayashi tries every cinematic technique in the book and while his special effects are indeed dated, they provide the audience with a jaw-dropping bombardment of weird images and set-pieces. There's nothing quite like this film anywhere. It's one of a kind, and continues getting stranger every minute, from scene to scene, as Auntie's power grows and the terror towards the girls heightens, with each character falling one by one in very creative ways. While the film is by and large a film whose reputation is built on it's wacky nature, there are some genuine scenes of beauty, often even melancholy, but even the most romantic moment is off-set by a truly eye-popping follow-up. The characters are bubbly, enthusiastic, giggly sorts one is accustomed to in regards to teenage girls. What happens to them over the course of the film is what gives HOUSE it's growing cult following. I can promise you that HOUSE definitely lives up to the hype regarding sheer insanity and crazed visuals.
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8/10
Bonkers Cult Classic
evanston_dad26 April 2021
It's not hard to see why this bonkers Japanese film has become a cult classic.

"Group of young girls visit a haunted house" will do for a plot summary, but that summary doesn't really do justice to the experience of watching this movie. It's like Dario Argento directed "Slumber Party Massacre" while channeling Monty Python. There isn't a single non-weird moment in the entire film, and it's weirdly beautiful for a movie that features a girl being eaten by a piano and a man turning into a giant bunch of bananas.

I will say that the kookiness becomes a bit exhausting by the time the movie's over. It's like watching a prolonged fever dream of randomness, but 90 minutes is a long fever dream.

This is the kind of movie that is made for midnight showings at boutique movie theaters.

Grade: A-
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9/10
Bizarre but enjoyable Japanese haunted house effort
kannibalcorpsegrinder25 November 2015
When a group of school-girls take a trip out to a supposed-cursed mansion to take care of its inhabitants, they find the place indeed haunted by a murderous spirit of one of their family members and try to break the curse before they all fall victim to the shenanigans.

This was an absolutely crazy Japanese Haunted House comedy that manages to be wildly original and wholly entertaining. What really makes this one so much fun is once it actually gets to the house in question and things start happening, as the film becomes all that much better due to a very chaotic, kinetic energy that allows for it to remain both wildly funny as well as deliver some crazy horror imagery. It holds up as well as the gags, bouncing around from one extreme sight-gag to another without much deference for a plot, makes you laugh yet still manages to maintain a horror undertone within so many scenes of the mice flying out of the cupboards, the wooden planks coming to life or the visually-haunting scene of the two playing the piano to be rather horrific in nature yet still have quite a few laughs packed into them. As well, the balance between the comedic and the horror here is strong enough that scenes like the attack by the floating head out by the water-well, the absolutely crazy piano antics where it comes to life and first bites off her fingers then actively swallows her whole inside it in a rather bizarre, crazy sequence and the rather crazy sequence of the mattress flying off the shelves and burying the victim underneath, only to then completely disappear in a rather sizable pile of feathers and insulation as a life-like doll later on. This crazy fun is only topped by the sheer madness of the finale, as nothing about it makes any sense other than to completely become filled with the most bizarre, outrageous visual gags possible with demonic cat transformations, supernatural kung-fu battles with possessed furniture, an endless torrent of blood-filled water and the strikingly haunting ghost girl running around which is only a small part of the craziness here within this section of the film, and earns this one so much positive that there's more than enough here to hold this out over the minor flaws here. The problems here are all centered on the film's bookends, as neither part comes off too well. In the beginning half, the problem here is the lame comedy and dragging pace here for these give this a slow beginning which makes this one a challenge to get into being way too hit-or-miss to be the main focus of the film. The finale is even worse, which is way too much a fantasy-driven ploy here that's based around the big romance angle that's just quite confusing here touching on these themes that were never a part of the film until this section. Overall, this might be off-the-wall but it's definitely memorable and enjoyable.

Rated Unrated/R: Violence, Language and Nudity.
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7/10
Overkill
zetes4 November 2010
This lives up to its reputation as one of the craziest horror movies in existence, but, I have to say, I wouldn't in any way call it a great movie. The story involves a group of teenage girls visiting one of their aunts during summer vacation. Weird stuff begins to happen, like, say, mattresses or pianos attacking them. But, really, the weird stuff starts happening before they even leave. I think director Obayashi was kind of dropping acid during the entire production, or at the very least all through the editing stages. No cinematic trick goes unused, and the film jumps around like a sugar-loaded five year old from start to finish. Honestly, it's exhausting, and I kind of lost interest in it a good twenty minutes before the end. Still, any fan of crazy cinema has to check this out.
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8/10
this film really stands on it's own
trashgang11 October 2012
I had heard a lot of this Japanese flick and finally I watched it after it's official release. Immediately it became clear that this isn't a flick for everybody. This is a pure art flick and not a real horror like it has been mentioned before.

If you are looking for a real Japanese splatter then this is a wrong choice although it has it's ghost house. It do has a severed head and fingers being cut of and stuff like that but it is low on the horror side. Still, I liked it because it is full of special effects and for 1977 it was a real masterpiece. In most of all scene's there is some kind of cinematic manipulation, from the shifting color filters, to deranged collage and weird intercuts via editing of things taking place, some animations did remind me of Monthy Pyton, mattes and a lot of blue key, props flying around and cats that do weird things. There's so many to see and I was even surprised of the nudity added in Hausu. The Japanese flicks are know that when private parts are shown that they blur the picture but here we have a naked woman swinging in a bloody pool and there's no blurring added.

The severed head isn't scary, it even does funny things. you really need to watch closely to see all things. And just listen to the score. Sometimes it's cheesy then it's weird. You got the picture. Hausu stands on it's own. I haven't seen anything like this before, no go enter The House...

Gore 1/5 Nudity 1/5 Effects 5/5 Story 3/5 Comedy 1/5
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6/10
A Nutshell Review: House
DICK STEEL25 August 2009
This is the opening film of this year's edition of the Japanese Film Festival, showcasing a total of 9 films from today until Sunday based upon the genres of Horror, Mystery and Supernatural. But whatever your experience with Japanese horror, nothing had prepared me for what I've seen in director Nobuhiko Obayashi's House, which is very unlike most, if not all of the horror films that I've seen come out from the land of the rising sun.

If I had not known that the story was by Obayashi's then 7 year old daughter, I would have wonder what magic mushrooms Obayashi could have consumed in order to dream up some of the craziest sequences ever for a horror movie. Scratch that. Make this a comedy instead, as you'd probably never hear anyone scream from the more "horrific" moments, perhaps only exclaim at how cliché this was, or how this film didn't outlast the test of time. Clearly for a film made in 1977, one couldn't expect the usual polished technical methods used to make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up, and I really wonder how this film had been received back in its heyday.

The plot is extremely straightforward, but the journey to get to its first victim, comes complete with family melodrama complete with a Japanese-speaking Italian stepmother who probably spawned the Hindi movie staple of having wind blown everywhere on the heroine's body. It took a while for all its characters to be introduced, some throwaway of course, like the roadside watermelon seller. In fact, the introductory subplot about accepting a step- parent got shelved really early to make way for the Scooby-Doo-like adventures involving a haunted house, which of course is where all the juvenile fun was.

Visually, if you're unforgiving about the early beginnings of special effects, then you're likely to be finding fault with plenty. Otherwise, I suppose there are a lot of lessons to be learnt from on how effects have progressed over the last 30 years, and something like those shown, if made today, probably wouldn't get away with today's discerning audience. The soundtrack as well was a bit off, and I can't find a moment's silence where there wasn't a need for music drowning out the conversation, which was especially bad during the opening acts, and served as quite the distraction.

House served up an excuse to get a group of schoolgirls together on an excursion to one of their aunt's abode deep in some mountainous forest, and we learn about the aunt's unlucky love life through a flashback scene which I thought was pretty well done, in silent movie terms. Once the victims are trapped, then the craziness really began. With each of the characters given names like Fairy, Fantasy, Scholar, Kungfu, Sweet, Melody and Mac, they are nothing more than your band of caricatures who will live up to their namesakes. Fairy of course, if coming from a young girl, would be given to the heroine, while amongst the lot, Kungfu looked very much like the precursor to Street Fighter's Chun Li with her incredible short underpants, and butt-kicking moves, which don't look as threatening as they are laughable.

The horror elements get fused together with animation sometimes which sort of toned down the gory impact the film would have, from cannibalistic acts to psychological teasers. Then there are the unintentionally comedic elements, which involve camera tricks, repetition (some of which are truly ingenious though, I have to admit), and one couldn't get away with writing about the film, without making mention of that crazy white cat, which you would learn to keep your eyes peeled on for some of the craziest antics ever dreamt up for a cinematic feline.

Personally this has B written all over it. Liked it I did not, but enjoyed and appreciated the vast technical improvements in today's horror films I have. It's really different and it's not a horror film in the conventional sense, but if you're looking for inventiveness and ingenuity, then House should rank high up on the list of recommendations.
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8/10
Very colourful and experimental horror parody.
HumanoidOfFlesh4 October 2007
Oh man,"Hausu" is an extremely weird and grotesque horror parody.It is also supremely stylish and visually mindblowing.The plot of "House" is quite easy to describe:seven schoolgirls travel to visit grandmother at her spooky old house.It's not clear whose grandmother she is,as every character in the movie is referred to by a nickname and they all call the old woman Ojii.The house turns out to be a demon that wants to eat them and grandmother is apparently a cat.Words can't describe how positively bizarre this movie is.It plays like the cross between "Suspiria" and "Beetlejuice".There are plenty scenes of kitschy humour plus some scares for example when one of the girls tries to sneak the watermelon out,she finds a human head down the well instead.One girl is even eaten by a piano in a very gory fashion and the dead victim's fingers are still playing the piano after being bitten off.9 out of 10.
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6/10
It is short, it is pretty but completely empty.
christopher-underwood21 October 2018
This is my second attempt at watching this and at least this time I stayed awake. It is a very slight tale starring a bunch of delightful young women and packed with vivid and varied visuals. Every still I have ever seen from this makes me want to give it another go. Almost every second of the film is a visual delight. But, where exactly is it all going? These constant surreal episodes of candy floss horror and innocent eroticism are interspersed with Scooby Doo moments as the girls go flying about the house in search of one another or something else. There is no logical progression from one sequence to another and this makes it very difficult to stay with. It is short, it is pretty but completely empty.
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8/10
Japanese horror that's filled with style, fantasy, and highly graphic with image highlights!
blanbrn2 June 2014
1977's "House" is one of those fun little film's that when one watches the mind just becomes entertained and it follows a path of wild imagery and unlimited imagination. When you watch it you like me will be impressed with the highly style like images of mind alerting images that the film tries to showcase to the viewer, aside from that the picture from Nobuhiko Obayashi does have a story. It centers around a Japanese girl named Gorgeous who after finding that her father is gonna marry a new lady after her mother death's decides to get together with her 6 girlfriends from school and take a summer vacation to her aunt's rural country home in the Japan wilderness. Upon arrival to the creepy home the signs are clear that her aunt just might be a ghostly image, and this house is full of evil spirits, and a demon like house cat and an eating piano and all kinds of crazy visions. Overall this is one little treat to view it's a delight in the form of animation and bizarre special effects, as it's a real tribute to Japanese cinema.
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