House, in horror movie terms, isn’t just about cheesy perms in the ’80s, but until now, in the form of Hausu, it’s an even more bizarre Japanese movie from 1977, and the first for director Nobuhiko Ôbayashi.
Angel (Kimiko Ikegami) is a schoolgirl going through a hard time. Her father is about to get remarried, some eight years after her mother died, but despite the heartache she still feels, she is being a bit childish in not accepting this although, to be fair, her Dad could’ve dropped the bombshell a bit more subtly by NOT suggesting that Ryoko will be her “new mother”.
On the plus side for her, school’s out and all the girls are looking forward to six weeks by the beach, but they’ll be without Angel as she’s going away for this big event. In a strange twist of plot, Dad and new girl stay home, while Angel and her friends head off over to the house for the summer.
There’s not exactly a complex plot to get your head around, as Angel & co. basically go to spend the summer with her mad Auntie in her massive house, but given that she’s old and struggles to get about, who’s doing all the cleaning?
There are special effects such as a dismembered head, when it’s clearly a person wearing a body suit in conjunction with blue screen (rather than green screen, back then), but it’s interesting to see such effects compared to modern movies which go OTT on CGI.
There’s also a broken fridge which has more to it than meets the eye, and a whole tone of a movie that feels like it was made by a team of people who’d just done several lines of cocaine beforehand, such is the madcap freaky stuff that goes on, such as a comedy scene, 14 minutes in, complete with an American song in the background, which looks more befitting of a children’s TV show rather than a horror movie.
I also love the moment that the cat supposedly jumps up onto Auntie’s lap while she’s in the wheelchair, when it’s clear that someone’s just thrown the feline – and you can just make out the shadow of where that person is.
That said, I don’t think anything in Hausu meant to make sense, particularly. In fact, there’s a number of visual techniques used in this movie, but rather than just list them all, it’s best to watch it and see them as they play out.
The film is presented in the original 1.37:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and with the film being just over 40 years old, this film does have a look of a slight amount of grain to it (which most people won’t really notice), but there’s a surprisingly sharp print to be found on this disc.
The audio is in DTS 2.0 HD MA, and it’d be great if the horror action went all around the speakers in 5.1 sound, but what’s here is fine.
The extras are as follows:
- Interviews (89:09): A stack of them which were made by Toho, in 2002, to celebrate the movie’s 25th anniversary, and mostly centre around director/producer Nobuhiko Ôbayashi talking about the film from its conception through to casting, the film’s release and it’s legacy.
There’s also one where he chats with his daughter, Chigumi Ôbayashi, who co-wrote the movie and also had a cameo in there, as did he. In addition, there’s Kumiko Oba (Fantasy) giving her thoughts in a brief piece lasting just over two minutes long.
- Video essay with David Cairns (26:28): A fascinating insight into the movie and the work of Nobuhiko Ôbayashi.
- Trailer (1:35): In the original 1.37:1 ratio. It shows off a lot of the weirdness in the movie, as you’d expect for a horror film, but I’d still recommend just watching the full thing rather than some of the most bizarre momenets in their condensed form.
And while I just received a check disc for this movie, the one you buy will also include a 44-page booklet which features new writing from Paul Roquet – Unhinged Desire (At Home With Obayashi), and stills from the film.
The menu is silent and static, with an image similar to the packshot. Subtitles are in English only (and optional – so, that’s a good thing if you’re Japanese and don’t want unecessary English subtitles getting in the way), and while there isn’t a chapter selection menu, there are just a mere 9 chapters. I always prefer one every five minutes, which would be approx 18 for this movie.
Running time: 88 minutes
Cat no.: EKA70290
Released: February 12th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 2.0 DTS HD Master Audio
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Producers: Tomoyuki Tanaka, Yorihiko Yamada and Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Screenplay: Chiho Katsura and Chigumi Ôbayashi
Music: Asei Kobayashi and Mikkî Yoshino
Angel: Kimiko Ikegami
Kung Fu: Miki Jinbo
Prof: Ai Matubara
Fantasy: Kumiko Oba
Mac: Mieko Sato
Melody: Eriko Tanaka
Sweetie: Masayo Miyako
Auntie: Yoko Minamida
Mr Togo: Kiyohiko Ozaki
Father: Saho Sasazawa
Ryoko Ema: Haruko Wanibuchi
Watermelon Farmer: Asei Kobayashi
Photographer: Mitsutoshi Ishigami
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.