Nobuhiko Obayashi's "House"

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I just saw this cult classic after hearing about it for years. It's still not out on DVD but it's around online. Anyways I wrote this for a blog entry and since there is sadly no thread for it yet here we go.
House (ハウス Hausu?)is a 1977 Japanese horror/comedy film directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. It is currently a huge obsession of mine. It is about 7 Japanese schoolgirls who stay at one of their aunts' haunted mansion for summer vacation. Each girl has a nickname that describes their character in the way animes would later be known for, and they are confronted with a demonic cat and the spooky demeanor of the aunt. On imdb people compare it to Beetlejuice or the Evil Dead series and indeed, it's as funny as it is scary. But it's also surreal and beautiful in ways that would put David Lynch to shame.
This film is famous for the low-budget effects that are employed in the latter half of the film as the girls are killed off. One sequence involves rotoscoped keying; as a girl (Fantasy?) watches a breaking mirror pieces of her face begin to fall off an reveal fire, until she is a glowing red body.

Several sequences include gratuitous use of drawing directly on the film with markers to create frantic psychedelic borders as Melody realizes she is being devoured by the piano she is playing. That scene famously finishes with severed fingers suspended in the air, plonking away at the keys. When the song finishes, the sheet music falls, the piano cover comes crashing down, and blood splatters out. The film doesn't really come across as gory when you watch it, because it feels like something taking place in a surrealist dream rather than gruesome reality.
As strange and subversive as these techniques and the horror-comedy atmosphere created in the second half of House is the truly surreal beginning sequence about the gorgeous Oshare's life at school with her friends and at home with a soon-to-be new mother. There are numerous film techniques that wouldn't be out of place 15 years later in an episode of [i]Twin Peaks</i]; odd superimpositions, heavily tinted images, counterintuitive sound effects, cross-fades that last MUCH longer than they ought to. The backgrounds are painted skies that are too beautiful to be real, the action cuts from scene to scene with effortless camera tricks that make it feel like you are watching a master sleight-of-hand magician. When the girls take a psychedelic train ride to the country, it resembles a daydream Michel Gondry may have had at Disneyland.

Adam Bruneau, Monday, 8 March 2010 15:58 (seven years ago) Permalink

there's a thread on ilf

noted schloar (dyao), Monday, 8 March 2010 16:01 (seven years ago) Permalink

So there is!

House (Hausu)

Adam Bruneau, Monday, 8 March 2010 16:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

Oh but that one's on ILF, and that's no fun. I love this movie so much and I keep telling everyone about it. Rialto just screened a new 35mm print so I'm sure it'll be out on Criterion soon!

This object perpetually attempts to sell itself on eBay. (Stevie D), Monday, 8 March 2010 16:33 (seven years ago) Permalink

this look intrstng

nitzer ebbebe (gbx), Monday, 8 March 2010 16:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

It's amazing. Track it down with all your might!

Adam Bruneau, Monday, 8 March 2010 17:17 (seven years ago) Permalink


just be warned that the print that made it to non-R1 DVD (where most all of the files in these torrents are sourced) is kind of shit. I'm waaaaay psyched to see how this will look if/when it gets a stateside release from the Rialto print

This object perpetually attempts to sell itself on eBay. (Stevie D), Monday, 8 March 2010 17:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

ppl just like to blog smthn new but those t-shirts are p cool

Lamp, Monday, 8 March 2010 17:38 (seven years ago) Permalink

Coming soon to a theater near you!!


To inquire about a booking, or suggest a venue, contact book✧✧✧@janusfi✧✧✧.c✧✧.

Nightly late shows
New York, NY - IFC Center

March 19 - March 21
Wilmington, DE - Theatre N at Nemours (HD)

March 26 - April 1
Salt Lake City, UT - Salt Lake Film Society

March 26 & 27
Cleveland, OH - Cleveland Cinematheque

April 2 & 3
Columbus, OH - Wexner Center for the Arts

April 9
Williamstown, MA - Images Cinema (Digital)

April 9 & 10
Denver, CO - Denver Film Society

April 9 - April 11
Hartford, CT - Cinestudio

April 13
Boulder, CO - International Film Series

April 15 - April 19
Vancouver, BC - Pacific Cinematheque

April 16
Oberlin OH - Apollo Theatre (HD)

April 17
San Francisco, CA - Castro Theatre

April 23 & 24
Ann Arbor, MI - State Theater

April 30 & May 1
Albuquerque, NM - Guild Cinema
Cambridge, MA - Brattle Theatre

May 7
Schenectady, NY - Proctors (Digital)

May 7 & 8
Milwaukee, WI - Union Theatre
San Francisco, CA - Red Vic Movie House

May 13 - May 17
Edmonton, AB - Metro Cinema Society

May 14 & 15
Providence, RI - Cable Car Cinema

May 21 - May 23
Detroit, MI - Burton Theatre

May 22 - May 27
Austin, TX - Alamo Drafthouse

May 28 & 30
Rochester, NY - George Eastman House

June 4 - June 10
Santa Fe, NM - The Screen

June 5
Philadelphia, PA - International House

June 11 - June 13
Webster Groves, MO - Webster University Film Series

June 18 - June 20
Duluth, MN - Zinema 2

June 18 - June 24
Tucson, AZ - The Loft Cinema

June 25
Grand Rapids, MI - Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts

July 2 - July 7
Kansas City, MO - Tivoli Cinemas

July 9 - July 12
Waterville, ME - Railroad Square Cinema

July 13 - July 18
Atlanta, GA - Plaza Theatre

July 23 - July 29
Toronto, ON - Bloor Cinema

July 30 - August 1
Houston, TX - Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

August 2 - August 4
Guelph, ON - The Bookshelf

August 6 - August 8
Portland, OR - Cinema 21

August 6 - August 9
Ottawa, ON - ByTowne Cinema

August 12 - August 14
Tempe, AZ - MadCap Theaters

August 12 - August 15
Regina, SK - Regina Public Library Film Theatre

August 20
Saskatoon, SK - Broadway Theatre

August 28
Huntington, NY - Cinema Arts Centre

September 10 - September 16
Keene, NH - Keene State College

October 13
San Diego, CA - ArtPower! at UC San Diego

Adam Bruneau, Sunday, 21 March 2010 16:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

Just watched this on Friday - holy hell is it odd (and great). A mate lent us his copy ripped from the net and the quality was pretty poor, which just added to the general sense of disorientation - will definitely track down a good DVD print.

emil.y, Sunday, 21 March 2010 16:42 (seven years ago) Permalink

Oh man I love this film so much! Saw it at a "Weird Japan" festival at the NFT in London a couple of years ago and couldn't believe what I was seeing. Another film in the series was Jigoku, anyone seen it? Equally strange but less loopy.

Matt #2, Sunday, 21 March 2010 17:18 (seven years ago) Permalink

just got this on dvd. gonna watch as soon as i'm done with twin peaks

teresa banks (r1o natsume), Sunday, 21 March 2010 18:02 (seven years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

hahaha hooooooly shit

Whiney Houson (WmC), Monday, 2 April 2012 03:00 (five years ago) Permalink

this is streaming for free on hulu right now:

wmlynch, Monday, 2 April 2012 03:46 (five years ago) Permalink


the late great, Monday, 2 April 2012 04:39 (five years ago) Permalink

this film is v v creepy

preternatural concepts concerning variances in sound and texture (contenderizer), Monday, 2 April 2012 04:41 (five years ago) Permalink

I didn't think it was very creepy -- lots of fun though. I wish I'd seen it before I did my comedies ballot.

Whiney Houson (WmC), Monday, 2 April 2012 12:40 (five years ago) Permalink

the best the best the best

#yolo contendere (Whiney G. Weingarten), Monday, 2 April 2012 12:55 (five years ago) Permalink

The scene when they are on the train and the walls disappear is just unbelievably beautiful.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Monday, 2 April 2012 13:13 (five years ago) Permalink

I love Blanche.

tokyo rosemary, Tuesday, 3 April 2012 03:28 (five years ago) Permalink

I didn't think it was very creepy

i mean creepy in the "destruction of innocent-yet-sexy girls = good clean fun" sense

love the movie tho

preternatural concepts concerning variances in sound and texture (contenderizer), Tuesday, 3 April 2012 03:38 (five years ago) Permalink

My second favorite Ohbayashi movie is Nerawareta Gakuen.

polyphonic, Tuesday, 3 April 2012 03:44 (five years ago) Permalink

this movie is pretty out there. watched it about a year ago, I liked it a lot.

dmr, Tuesday, 3 April 2012 04:14 (five years ago) Permalink

Blanche plays a mean piano.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Tuesday, 3 April 2012 04:44 (five years ago) Permalink


and vice versa

preternatural concepts concerning variances in sound and texture (contenderizer), Tuesday, 3 April 2012 04:48 (five years ago) Permalink

I kept putting off seeing it when it was playing in Chicago until I finally missed it. And then I bought the DVD as soon as it came out and I still haven't watched it. I dunno what my problem is.

Marty McBrundlefly (Deric W. Haircare), Tuesday, 3 April 2012 04:52 (five years ago) Permalink

I kinda want to watch it for the firs time with the right people at the right time.

Marty McBrundlefly (Deric W. Haircare), Tuesday, 3 April 2012 04:53 (five years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

On my second time getting this out of the library, I finally watched it (partly because of the horror poll). Nutso. All the heightened artificiality of the design and the performances made me think a little of Guy Maddin, and the acid rock stuff feels a bit like Suspiria, but really it's not like anything else at all. Mindboggling to me that it was a big hit when it came out. Makes me wonder about its influence on the J-horror generation of filmmakers.

Anyway, lots of fun.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 29 April 2012 03:57 (five years ago) Permalink

this should be double-billed w/ Zardoz.

a big fat fucking fat guy in a barrel what could be better? (Eisbaer), Sunday, 29 April 2012 04:08 (five years ago) Permalink

crap + crap!

World Congress of Itch (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 29 April 2012 08:33 (five years ago) Permalink

You stinker.

Time, a group with Jam and Lewis (Stevie D(eux)), Sunday, 29 April 2012 10:14 (five years ago) Permalink

This brand of camp and schoolgirl uniforms just don't do it for me.

(I hate to think how many pairs of jeans Tarantino ruined watching this, though)

World Congress of Itch (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 29 April 2012 15:59 (five years ago) Permalink

I saw "The School in the Crosshairs" recently. It was pretty enjoyable! It more or less lays off the crazy effects til the very end, and damned if I could even remember the plot right now, but it was pretty great. Anyone seen any other of his post-"Hausu" films? Anything as exciting and weird as that?

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 16:30 (five years ago) Permalink

i don't think this is camp -- they were trying to make it really scary!

Philip Nunez, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 18:01 (five years ago) Permalink

well, and funny, and campy, and flat fucking bizarre

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 18:04 (five years ago) Permalink

are they winking at you though? you can be spaceballs goofy without being campy.

Philip Nunez, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 18:16 (five years ago) Permalink

Anyone seen any other of his post-"Hausu" films? Anything as exciting and weird as that?

I've seen a few of them. Hausu and Crosshairs are definitely my favorites. His stuff is much more straightforward later in his career. He more or less abandons the visual creativity of his earlier stuff.

I'm trying to remember what it's called, but he has one about two sisters where one dies after being crushed by a log, and the rest of the movie is the other sister and the family trying to come to grips with it. It's pretty good. Can't remember which one that is.

polyphonic, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 18:21 (five years ago) Permalink

In the interviews on the disc, he and his daughter and the screenwriter all sound like they were mostly trying to be as entertaining -- and non "Japanese," at least in a cinematic sense -- as possible. It sort of makes sense that the indirect inspiration was Jaws, which also doesn't bother much about the line between funny and scary.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 18:24 (five years ago) Permalink

"Futari (Two of Us) is about two sisters, one of them the perfect child, the other clumsy and slow. One day, the perfect sister dies, and comes back as a ghost to guide her little sister."

This is the one I meant. It's pretty charming for the most part.

polyphonic, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 18:27 (five years ago) Permalink

oh man, i also loved this. it's been a while. jaws is a great point of reference i think. what counts for entertaining there is so familiar while what counts for entertaining in "house" is unfamiliar or taboo. both seem to go a little bit deeper in their entertainment to the point where the machinery is exposed so to speak.

yo just a couple (Matt P), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 18:31 (five years ago) Permalink

I really love those interview extras. He comes across like a proud grandparent.

Emperor Cos Dashit (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 16:29 (five years ago) Permalink

I especially love the idea that so much of it came from his daughter. A house that eats girls! A piano that eats hands! A watermelon that turns into a head!

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 16:46 (five years ago) Permalink

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