Friday, March 25, 2011


House (1977)
Dir: Nabuiko Obayashi
On the surface House is a typical Haunted House film, But what sets this one apart is the strange visuals. As opposed to the eerie noises and atmosphere this film uses a very psychedelic influenced approach.
The story is basic enough,  Two best friends prepare for summer break from high school and they are going to separate places, Oshare plans on going to Kurosawa with her father who has just returned from Italy on a business trip, while her friend Fanta is preparing to go to summer camp lead by her schoolgirl crush, A teacher Mr. Togo. Although plans change as Oshare returns home to meet her fathers new fiancée Ryoko whom he refers to her new mother. This does not sit well with Oshare due to her mother passing 8 years prior. While the next day at school camp is called off. Oshare decides to return to her mother old home where her Aunt lives alone and after receiving confirmation she invites a group of her friends to join her, But not before a stray cat mysteriously hops in her window and takes to her. SO Oshare, Fanta and five other of their friends decide to head to the Aunt's house and along the way we are treated to a glimpse of what is to come in the visual department as they ride the train to town. While on the trip, Oshare provides a bit of background on her Aunt who has been living alone waiting for her fiancée to return to marry although he died in the War several years prior.

Upon arriving in town the girls are greeted by a strange watermelon salesman and he points them in the direction of the Aunt's house.When the girls arrive almost immediately things seem a bit strange, but the girls decide to go along with everything and help the aunt clean her house and prepare dinner for themselves.Suddenly One of the girls , Mac turns up missing and Fanta finds Mac's head in the well where they were cooling melons. The head then begins flying and bites her on the butt. When Fanta alerts the others about her findings, they all laugh it off as part of her over active imagination. Although Mac is indeed missing. After dinner while eating some of the melon, The Aunt pokes an eye out of her mouth as if the melon was in fact their friends head but again her worries go unheard.

Afterwards the girls go wandering around the house and One of the girls Sweets, Hears a doll calling her voice. Shortly after she goes missing as well. Fanta continues to upset the other girls with her talks of strange happenings as she witnesses the Aunt step into her fridge and disappears , we then see the Aunt feasting on human remains in another room. Laughing it off , the girls split up as Sweets returns. Sweets goes to prepare for bed while Melody sets off to play some piano and the others just wader the halls noticing the pictures of a cat around the house that bare a striking resemblance to the cat Oshare found before heading there. Oshare heads to her mothers old room and sits in her old make up chair , where she begins to see some very odd visuals including her aunt becoming a demon before the mirror cracks and then Oshare begins to crack and disappear. Meanwhile Kung Fu and Gari hear Sweets and Melody screaming from two different areas of the house and run to check on what is happening. While they find Melody has just hurt her finger, Sweets is attacked and stripped by some mattresses. When they arrive in the room to find Sweets they see the room destroyed and her clothes all over the place but no sign of Sweets , just a doll with no clothes on.

At this point the girls begin to start worrying and decide they need to call for help, but Oshare returns to tell them she will go into town to alert the police but demands the others stay behind. Once she leaves, the girls are locked into the house and things begin to really get strange. Gari comes to the conclusion that the house is indeed haunted by the Aunt and they must find a way to break the spell, While Kung fu and Gari look for clues , Fanta stays behind with Melody who begins playing the piano again , until the piano eventually eats her, in one of the films highlights and strangest scenes.

While Gari and Kung Fu search for clues they see Sweets trapped inside a giant clock that then fills with blood , this scares them enough to go find Fanta whom they find passed out as Melody's Fingers play the piano on their own. the girls discover that Oshare has now been taken over by the ghosts in the house and Kung Fu decides to try and fight them off with her martial arts skills, to no avail as she is attacked by a lamp and electrified. Although her legs fly into a picture of Snowball  the cat just as Gari discovers that the cat must e destroyed to stop the haunting. As the portrait is smashed it starts spewing blood and the entire house floods with blood as Fanta and Gari try to survive through the night until Mr. Togo shows up to rescue them. Unfortunately for the girls when Togo arrives in town searching for the house he comes across the watermelon man whom he tell he dislikes melon and prefers bananas, This does not go over well at all for him. As the house floods Gari is pulled in and drown in the rivers of blood and Fanta sees Oshare calling for her, as she goes to her the two embrace , just as Oshares Mother in law arrives in town to find Togo has been turned into a pile of banana's. As Ryoko enters the house to talk with Oshare everything appears normal until , the truth is revealed that Oshare is in fact possessed by the house and says that she must eat as Ryoko bursts into flames.

So apparently, The reason the house is haunted is because due to the Aunt's jealousy of married women anytime she can get unwed women into her house she feasts on them in order to keep her and the spirit alive which is a decent premise for a haunted house movie, But what really set this film apart and makes it wonderful is the visuals and just completely off the wall twists and turns along the way. It is hard to categorize this film due to the fact it is so odd, but if I had to sum it up I would say this film is Part Eraserhead, Part Poltergeist, Part Tim and Eric's Awesome Show , Great Job and Part Pink Floyd's The Wall. this is not one for gore hounds by any means but anyone who enjoys odd cinema such as Eraserhead and the like this one is a real winner . You will not find a film much stranger than this one and it deserves it's cult status to the fullest extent. I found it thoroughly entertaining and I kept out allot in the review because some is just too damn hard to explain and some of the best scenes are so fast paced it was impossible to grab good screens for them. If you were to mix psychedelic rock from the 60's and 70's and mix it with paranormal activity this is what you would get after a few tabs of acid and that may not sound that awesome but the film makers behind this one nailed it perfectly. This one is definitely going in my lists of favorite odd films from here on out. I stress that you should indeed check it out.
Gore:5 ( Not much in the gore department but this one gets a pass on pure creativity)
Nudity:2 ( few Boobs Here and there but nothing worth mentioning)
Story:7 (Pretty standard Haunted house premise, but this one is truly awesome from beginning to end)
Characters:7 ( Just enough development to make you care about all involved.)
Overall: 8 out of 10 ( I know the numbers don't match up here but this one bypasses all my normal rating criteria due to its originality and pure strangeness, A classic and worth a watch if for nothing a good laugh)

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