Hausu (House)

Seven little girls with names like Gorgeous, Sweet and Fantasy meet a grisly end in the classic Japanese horror film Hausu (House). Filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi produced and directed Hausu, which was reportedly meant to be a Japanese answer to the mega-successful Jaws. For inspiration, Obayashi went to his preteen daughter and asked about her fears. Some of her concerns were childlike, such as getting her fingers caught in the keys of her piano. Others were a bit darker, such as being eaten by a house. Obayashi took her thoughts, added the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings as well as an evil ghost waiting for her long lost lover’s return from war, and came up with Hausu.

It’s a delirious story about a girl and a group of her friends who visit her aunt for the summer. Too bad the aunt is an evil demon/ghost/monster/thing. Too bad her house and furniture eat the girls (the piano starts off by biting off Melody’s fingers, then devours her whole).

At the time of its release, Hausu was panned by Japanese critics. American critics were slightly more charitable; the Village Voice reviewer said it was ''a retarded hybrid of Rocky Horror and Whispering Corridors.'' (Hey, we said slightly more charitable, remember?) These days it’s seen as a surrealistic ode to fever dreams.
Sat., Sept. 15, 10 p.m., 2012


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