Thursday, October 25, 2007

HAUSU! (aka. ハウス)

In 1977 Japanese commercial director Obayashi Nobuhiko -- or OB** for short -- asked his 7-year-old daughter to come up with a horror film. The movie? ハウス(HAUSU). And if you haven't seen it then you're missing out on what one film viewer on-line has rightly called it: "Enough awesome to kill a rhino." Indeed.

How does one describe this brilliant, spaztic film that's like the bastard love-child of a lava lamp and a haunted house? Well, since I'm not feeling particularly creative, I will cut and paste this excerpt from a review on "...the tale of seven "unmarried" young high-school girls who, during a school break, travel to a spooky, remote hilltop house to visit the reclusive, mysterious Aunt of one of their fold only to be consumed one at a time by the Ghost-House/Aunt in increasingly novel ways..."

From the first time I saw it, I was hooked. I saw a shitty VHS boot of the film (go Mondo Kim's!) and wondered how exactly a film as gonzo as this-- with seven cute, young idols who periodically strip nude and get off-ed in some of the most curiously inventive ways this side of road runner (watch out for the piano, gals!) got made. Furthermore, how did he continue to have a directing career? (And how do I get to have that career?)

Obayashi, as y'all might remember, is the dude who made those brilliant MANDOM ads starring Chuck Bronson that I posted on here a few weeks back. A work horse commercial director who, as my pal Marc mentioned before in the comments section, it is largely attributed to premiering foreign movie stars in Japanese commercials. So all of those ham ads staring Sly Stallone that you've been giggling over on YouTube, you can thank this man. (And we salute you!)

In the USA, HAUSU, it turns out, is owned by Janus Films. Those are the arty folks who hold the catalog to just about everything they ever screen for you at film school. (You know, the films you're supposed to be watching instead of STAR WARS for the 27th time?) The Criterion Collection, which is connected at the hip with Janus, had some half-hearted intentions to put it out, once upon a time, but now it's just languishing in their vaults... Whadda crime!

So, okay, where does one see HAUSU since it's not widely available -- especially in the US? Provided that you are in the US-- and are in Los Angeles specifically-- then get your ass over to the Silent Movie Theater here in West Hollywood THIS Sunday, October 28th at 10:30pm where it is screening after Shindo Kaneto's fantastic Onibaba.

Since most prints of HAUSU are in shit condition, the film will be up-converted to HD from the Rapid Eye Movements German DVD. While that blows, it can't be helped and since the Silent Movie Theater has just re-opened after a full refurbishment, the tech specs should be top-notch.

What are you waiting for? If you live in Los Angeles you have NO excuse. Be there.

Here's the mind-blowing trailer:

** Not named after the Korean beer, director Obayashi got the OB nick-name from the foreign movie stars in his commercials who could remember their lines, but not their director's names. Thanks guys.


John R said...

Whew hew! I just remembered this movie. Thanks for the background info! I have a DVD with no subtitles, but I just found this somewhat dubious copy:

Will advise if it's any good.

Nicholas Rucka said...

If you want to supplement your non-subbed copy with a legit licensed version, REM in Germany released a DVD a couple of years back with English Subs. The disc looks good and the subs are decent. You might want to look into getting that disc since those guys are putting out good product and certainly don't make much money from it...?

Amazon Germany has it too:

I just got my hands on the recently released soundtrack for the film too (in Japan). It's pretty awesome.

Anonymous said...

Got it. It played on the IFC channel in the US last month. I know - who the hell programmed that?!

Looks great and good subs. Thanks for the tips man!

PS - I'm jealous of your soundtrack.