Parents often believe teenage angst is a phase to be grown out of with time. However, sometimes the persistence of memory can leave such a mental impact on teenage identity that it can actually materialize into furniture – to haunt the very House it is in!
House, or Hausu (1977) is a movie about seven girls who have to fight against evil spirits in a haunted house. Gorgeous is the most beautiful girl in all of her friend circle. The recent death of her mother has affected her friendship so much that she has developed a grudge against the world, now made worse by the fact that her step mother wants to steal her father, made unbearable by the health of her favorite aunt. So along with Gorgeous’ six friends, who conveniently have their names matched by their personalities, they decide to take the train to her aunts’ house before she may also disappear from her life for good. But little does Gorgeous and her friends know there lurks an evil force in their vacation home that will take over their imaginations like they never knew.
Produced by Toho, the same people behind the Godzilla movies, is a brand new movie made to compete with the Hollywood likes of Jaws in America. The movie depicts seven innocent school girls who do what ever is necessary, at the cost of their own friendships, to survive the absurdity that is a house bought to life for reasons nobody knows why. This movie contains about every fear a child can imagine. Nights turn into fever dreams, of nightmares manifested into reality. Then the events at hand quickly turn from flower to sour. Nothing is what it seems, where seemingly unrelated side stories develop out of the blue just for a grin.
Every scene is coated in Technicolor chandeliers, kaleidoscopic crystals, strokes of messy paint, blood red jam, and a knock-out kung fu kick from a sugar high. The nightmares and dreams of each girl are seen from their perspectives. Although threatening, none of the ghosts they encounter are frightening in any way. What makes this movie different is everything but the story. Skeletons come to life, hungry beds, angry pianos, headless ghouls, bleeding furniture, bumps and thumps in the literal living room walls, teleporting cats, and other miscellaneous things go bump in the night where space allows, falling right into place for a shock treatment of the eyes. They used just about every graphic they could cut out from the books. At times the movie feels like a dinner party lost in a purple haze, other times a caffeinated all girls classroom before the SATs, all set with a psychedelic wave affected by the music and clothing of a yesteryear unknown.
House is not a feel good movie in the traditional sense. It is a tale of a girl forced to face an uncomfortable physical dog-eat-dog world after loss of family. The human figure is often toyed around to extremes to show this pent up emotion against bodily change. Gorgeous isn’t a character to root for because of reliance on others. Her state of mind is affected by the highs and lows of the house. These dark parts can be seen by some as art, and to others as an extra additive. The movie says that you don’t have to sacrifice your blood to become a grown up worthy of desire, but just be scary enough to scare all your friends silly so they can look up to you.
Viewers beware, you can’t expect the movie to be rated PG, yet you cannot let the horrors presented be a stopping force before you reach its final climax. The effects still stand the test of time just fine and that’s a good part about it. In the end, the movie doesn’t take itself as seriously as the main character does, and neither should you. You won’t know whether to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situations Gorgeous’ friends helplessly get themselves into, or the idea that such a combination of ghosts and school girls can exist, and somehow work as a dark comedy. It is a combination of musical theatrics and over exaggerated B movies to inspire the likes of Rocky Horror Picture Show, Beetlejuice, Evil Dead or even My Neighbor Totoro to come. House is a movie to be experienced during Halloween with some good grub and lots of human fingers. And also many, many cats.
“Any old cat can open a door. Only a witch cat can close a door.”
3 1/2 cats/ 5 cats
Watch it now streaming here: