Film / Hausu

"If an alien who had just landed on Earth cornered you one day and asked, "Hey, what's with all the Internet jokes about Japan being really weird?" you could show him this movie and he would say, "Oh." Then he would leave planet Earth forever."

Hausu (or House) is 1977 Japanese surrealist horror comedy directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. It is considered the Spiritual Predecessor to The Evil Dead (1981).

"Gorgeous" an oddly named Japanese teenaged girl, is unpleasantly surprised when her widowed father tells her that he is getting remarried. She decides to get out of town, and invites six of her friends—the also oddly named Melody, Sweet, Fantasy, Kung Fu, Prof, and Mac—to the country to visit the home of her "Auntie". Auntie receives them pleasantly but it quickly becomes apparent that something is very wrong with her. Something is very wrong with her house as well. Strange things begin to happen as it seems that evil forces are at work to Kill 'em All. It can be best described as a drug-addled David Lynch's version of a more colourful (if that's even possible) Suspiria remake. The Criterion Collection memorably described the film as both "a psychedelic ghost tale" and "an episode of Scooby-Doo as directed by Mario Bava"

It was released in North America in 2009 as House. Not to be confused with the American haunted house movie called House, or that other House who's a snarky doctor.

Hausu shows examples of:

  • Action Girl: Kung Fu is a skilled martial artist. She loses, but she goes down fighting.
  • Adults Are Useless: Mr. Togo, whom the girls are waiting on to save them, never even makes it to the house. Instead he gets turned into a pile of bananas.
  • Agent Mulder and Agent Scully: Fantasy and Prof., respectively.
  • And That's Terrible: During the piano scene, Melody's disembodied head shows up to comment on how "naughty" and "indecent" the situation is.
  • Aside Glance: From Auntie. A camera on the roof shows Auntie go into the refrigerator. She then appears on the roof in the foreground, and looks right at the camera. Very creepy.
  • Ax-Crazy: Auntie, and her house, want to eat the girls.
  • Butt Biter: Mac's head pops up out of the well to bite Fantasy in the butt.
  • Cats Are Mean: Shiro/Blanche has to be one of the meanest cats ever to appear in a film.
  • Cool Teacher: Togo. It doesn't stop him from getting transformed into a pile of bananas.
  • Creator Cameo: The weird guy operating the fruit stand is composer Kobayashi Asei.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Fantasy's the first one who notices something weird's going on, but everyone brushes off her suspicions.
  • Dead All Along: Auntie. It is revealed that Auntie has been dead for many years, but that she wanted to be married so badly that her body "stayed alive after death" and eats all the unmarried girls that visit the house.
  • Death by Sex: Inverted. Had the girls had sex, or been married, they wouldn't have been in danger.
  • Dem Bones: There's a doctor's skeleton hanging around; it occasionally dances for some reason. It's there because Auntie's Dad/Gorgeous's Grandpa used to treat patients there. So the house is technically also an Abandoned Hospital. That's...that's super.
  • Demonic Possession: Gorgeous in the end is possessed by Auntie and the spirit of the house.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: A pretty straight example, with the establishment of Gorgeous, her friends, her home situation, and the trip to the eponymous house taking up a good amount of the runtime, and even after they get there there's still a decent amount of meandering. Like everything else in the movie, this gets weird.
  • Diary: Auntie's got one, and Prof desperately looks through it to see if there's some way to stop the haunting. Nope.
  • Dull Surprise: Some of the acting, is, uh... a bit shaky.
  • Dwindling Party: The house kills the girls one by one over the course of the movie.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: And that does mean everything.
  • Fanservice: Tasteful (is that anything like the kind of word you'd use for a film like this?) for most of the film, but then it increases during the climax. Gorgeous takes a bath; Kung-Fu spends the latter portion of the movie in nothing but a halter top and panties. Prof loses all her clothes in the water of the flooded house right before she disappears forever. Gorgeous is semi-topless for her final scene with Fantasy.
  • Five-Man Band: Seven, actually:
  • Gainax Ending: The deeply strange ending to this deeply strange movie has Gorgeous, who seems to have taken Auntie's place, receiving her would-be stepmother Ryoko at the house—and apparently killing her. Then a little meditation about The Power of Love that comes out of nowhere. Then, roll credits.
  • Genius Loci: And it's hungry.
  • Haunted Headquarters: The titular House.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Comes from out of the painting of Blanche, and doesn't stop until Prof is drowned.
  • Hope Spot: Kung Fu's legs escape from, uh...f-from the house(?) long enough to kick the painting of Shiro in the face, apparently destroying Auntie. Unfortunately the house apparently just switches to using Gorgeous as its cat's-paw.
  • Hot for Teacher: Fantasy has a crush on Mr. Togo, which the other girls constantly tease her for. She even has an Imagine Spot of him riding in on a white horse to save her.
  • Kill 'em All: And in the most bizarre ways ever.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: As well as the aforementioned aside glances given by Auntie, there are a few other instances of this in the film. The flashback showing Auntie's history is apparently styled as a film-within-the-film, with the girls commenting on the action and the picture burning up at the end.
  • Losing Your Head: Mac. Her detached head laughs, flies and bites Fantasy's butt.
  • Maiden Aunt: Auntie was left this way after her betrothed was killed in the war. She is very very pissed off about being a maiden aunt.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Melody smiles cheerfully and says "My fingers are gone" when she sees that the piano has eaten her fingers. She reacts more strongly when the piano eats the rest of her.
  • Medium Blending: Animation is used throughout the film in place of a lot of special effects, due to it being the 70s and all. In one scene, a train ride is represented by a trip through a moving, brightly colored matte painting.
  • Mind Screw: There are pianos and lampshades (no no, not that kind) and bedsheets. And they attack people.
  • Monochrome Past: The flashback to Auntie's romance before the war is presented not just in monochrome, but in silent-movie style, complete with intertitles.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Every character in this movie has a nickname.
  • Red Herring: Ryoko is introduced as weird and spooky, with an oddly detached manner, and a wind effect that always has her clothes blowing around her. She proceeds to take no part in the story until she pops up again at the end, only for Gorgeous to kill her.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Shiro/Blanche, to Auntie; Really, people should have known something was up when the cat that walked in on Gorgeous when she was writing to her Aunt turned out to belong to said Aunt.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Sort of.
  • Slice of Life: Bizarrely, most of the movie ends up being this as the characters spend quite a while before actually noticing that the house is trying to kill them.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Sliding crazily all through the movie.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The incredibly cheery and happy soundtrack, provided by the Japanese-American Power Pop band Godiego.
  • Splash of Color: The Monochrome Past flashback to Auntie and her boyfriend shows his draft notice in color, and also shows the flower Auntie's clutching in color as she gets the bad news telegram.
  • Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious: Virgins. They're yummy.
  • Surreal Horror / Surreal Humor: The two tropes blend together, really. They even affect one another: All of the humor and the general light-hearted tone makes the horror scenes all the more unnerving
  • Stylistic Suck: Obayashi wanted the special effects to look as if a child had done them.
    • Many of the strangest sequences in the film came from Obayashi's young daughter Chigumi, who even has a story credit on the final film.
  • Theme Naming: All the girls have weird names that match their stock character personalities. Gorgeous is the prettiest one, Kung Fu is the martial arts heroine, Fantasy is given to flights of fancy, Prof is the smart one, Melody is the musician, Sweet is the nicest one, and Mac is—uh, the Big Eater.
  • Too Dumb to Live: All the surviving girls when they meet a possessed Gorgeous and fail to notice it despite the glaring clues.
  • Video Credits: An apparently out-of-character sequence showing the actresses skipping about a field as the credits roll.
  • Widget Series