12 Days of Halloween – Hausu

Day 3


Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…well I don’t know how to introduce this one. For day 3, I decided to pick horror comedy as the topic since I like finding unique satires or takes on different genres. I did not expect to find this film, and I have been left absolutely baffled. For once I was left speechless after a film, and still to this moment I am speechless as to what I have watched. I thought I would have it relatively calm and handle either a bad parody or quite possibly a more easily discernable film like Tucker & Dale vs Evil. Instead I got director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 horror comedy, Hausu. Really? I just had to experience this one now? How do you top this absurdity?!

How does one go about explaining Hausu to people? Well it is a bunch of Japanese girls going to the house of one of their aunts for the summer break. Sounds simple right? Enter the surrealistically absurd part, the house is going to start eating them one by one. The house you say? Why yes this story is essentially something akin to Monster House in the most basic sense…yet it is nothing like it. Everything about this film puts you off kilter, whether it is the odd colour schemes and effects, the odd soundtrack, the baffling editing, the events that take place and nothing is as wonderful as the death sequences that are so weird that they will be seared into your brain. Not overtly gory or torturous, just inventive to put it mildly. The story is nearly pointless in this film, the only important aspect is about the aunt. One could call this a punishment for the newer generation for not understanding the pains of the old, particularly during wartime. With repeated viewings there is probably more to gleam of its surrealistic visuals, yet I don’t think I’m ready to watch again quite so soon.

That skeleton sure does have some moves!

I have nothing against surrealistic works like this one, yet I found myself more often than not confused at some of its visual choices. For the start of the film, the editing was quite confusing and at times off-putting to me. When the surrealistic action happened within the house it slowly started to feel right at home, yet before that the editing was more off-putting to the progression of the film to me. The cuts, dissolves, spinning images, pretty much everything in that opening segment was weird and was more off-putting then inventive or revolutionary. It just was there for the sake of being there so that this entire film feels surrealistic from start to finish. The film attempts to confuse and disorient you for the most part with its visual flair to distract from the distinct lack divots in its presentation. Slowing down even for the set-up of the film before the house would have given the viewer well needed downtime before being bombarded with the insanity from there on. We see how odd it is, but it does make the viewing of the film quite jarring in its opening stages.

With the beginning out of the way, this film takes a steep dive over the cliff more gradually as we are introduced to the aunt. She feels more like a prankster, someone who relishes in torturing the girls. Yes the aunt is the cause of all of these particular happenstances over the course of the film, they never try to hide that. Essentially the film hides next to nothing as often its plot is undiscernible. We are more offered a very stylishly entertaining death montage instead of a story more so and the rabbithole goes very far for this film. Each character is named after their hobby or character trait, as none of them really showcase depth and it is never needed really. This film quickly understands its purpose, to create one of the most absurd horror comedies ever devised in a way to shock and awe its audience. That succeeds on all counts, but does that completely forgive the film for its misgivings?

Now that is just a waste of good tomato juice!

The style over substance becomes a problem with a lot of experimental films, but Hausu fits perfectly into that category of film. It is an absurdity and without a doubt something to be watched, the deaths themselves are so ridiculous and the events feel like a fever dream especially when some scenes make little no sense as to their inclusion. This is a film that milks entertainment and rewatchability more than a standard narrative structure or coherency in its events or composition. This film is fun, and it knows that and everyone in the cast knows it to. The performances from these girls is not Oscar worthy by any standard, but you just can’t help but fall in love with it anyway. The music, cinematography, colour composition, special effects and acting help to create this weird melting pot of a weirdly enjoyable film.

Hausu cannot be clearly explained, but merely something that desires to be experienced. It truly is a feat though some of its effects and sequences at times as they utilize everything at their disposal well to make you utterly confused. This is truly a comedy, because the absurdity will find you laughing more often than not. While I myself find it hard to give this film an overall high praise, but it certainly deserves mention for it being one of the most original films I have ever seen. Hausu’s absurd trip of a plot will certainly not be for everyone, yet it for those who can buy into the inventively ridiculous this film will provide endless entertainment.

Rating: B-

Other Recommendations:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) – The original expressionist film to reach arthouse status, the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari does have a far more discernible plot then Hausu. It has the same estranged imagery, though it is more of a chilling tale and none so much a comedy. Though if you don’t mind silent films and love the arthouse feel of Hausu, this film is right up your alley.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – One of the most famous cult films of a generation, Rocky Horror Picture Show is absurd enough to recommend alongside Hausu. While not really reaching the heights of Hausu’s imagery, Rocky Horror is a hilarious film that confuses and disorients its viewer at every turn primarily in its finale. If you desire a more streamlined comedy with the same type of pizazz then why not give this one a watch.

Been awhile since I have seen something as weird as Hausu. Horror comedies are a fickle genre, but as shown it can prove to have some of the more wilder rides. Have you ever seen Hausu? Is there any horror comedies that left you speechless? Please leave a comment down below and have yourself a great day!


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