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Friday, August 6, 2010

This Weekend at the NWFF: Hausu

Posted by on Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 9:52 AM


Yes, that house has a tongue. The 1977 Japanese horror film Hausu (House), which plays at the Northwest Film Forum tonight through Sunday, is really the Damndest Thing: a gleefully chaotic DayGlo haunted house movie (Sam Raimi has to have seen this) that suggests the Sid and Marty Krofft universe gone mental. Ok, mental-er.

Director Nobuhiko Obayashi, reportedly inspired from an idea by his 7-year-old daughter, follows a group of giggling schoolgirls (all sporting handily representative names like Gorgeous, Prof, and Kung Fu) as they spend the summer at a remote mansion owned by a creepy aunt with a mysteriously locked refrigerator. Plot-wise, that’s all I'm saying, partially because I don’t want to spoil anything, but mainly because … well, I don’t know how to adequately describe it without melting down Word’s grammar checker. (Can I get away with saying that there’s a cat with laser beam eyes that turns into a blood-spewing painting? There’s a cat with laser beam eyes that turns into a blood-spewing painting.)

Even on repeat viewing, though, it’s almost impossible to be prepared for Obayashi ‘s handling of his already loopy material, which includes such tricks as playing multiple soundtracks simultaneously, flooding the frame with dancing see-the-string body parts during otherwise tender moments, and occasionally even scribbling directly on the negative whenever things really go loco. Whatever the filmmaker’s reasons and/or levels of chemical inspiration, his hysterically random flailings form a gestalt that’s even more of a blast than its individual WTF parts. While the majority of genre films require you to turn your brain off in order to enjoy them, this is one of the few that somehow actually does it for you. Further words fail, really.


Comments (7) RSS

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levide 1
Second the recommendation. I've only seen it on a non-subbed boot, which is maybe the ideal way.
Posted by levide on August 6, 2010 at 10:03 AM · Report this
This had a theatrical run here in LA a few months back, it really is mind blowing. Criterion's releasing it on DVD this fall, just in time for Halloween.
Posted by JRoot on August 6, 2010 at 10:36 AM · Report this
oldmanandthesea 3
levide, imagine all those ridiculous effects in glorious 35mm! Seriously this is the event of the summer!
Posted by oldmanandthesea on August 6, 2010 at 10:49 AM · Report this

I drove to Portland to see it the last time it was out. SO GOOD.
Posted by thepickupbear on August 6, 2010 at 11:00 AM · Report this
rodolfo 5
Saw it here in Chicago a few months ago. DO NOT MISS!!!
Posted by rodolfo on August 6, 2010 at 12:03 PM · Report this
...and for those who simply can't make their way to NFF this weekend, hope is not lost. The estimable Criterion Collection will release "Hansu" (SD and Blu-Ray) in late October in time for Halloween.
Posted by cineaste on August 6, 2010 at 12:08 PM · Report this
David Schmader 7
Love it, and here's a key bit of info about where that one-of-a-kind surrealism comes from, from the Janus films website:

...the director fashioned the script after the eccentric musings of his eleven-year-old daughter...
Posted by David Schmader on August 6, 2010 at 12:30 PM · Report this

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