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Film / Hausu

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I know he'll come back. Because he promised. He promised he would.

House (Hausu) is a 1977 Japanese surrealist horror comedy Toku film 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 (1977) 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 I Must Scream: When a possessed Gorgeous pretends to call the police, voices screaming for help can be heard on the line. Later, when Kung Fu is swallowed by a ceiling light, she sees the dismembered bodies of all her friends in a multicolored limbo, all calling out to her, implying that even in death, they are all stuck in the house.
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  • 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.
  • Big Eater: Mac is the epitome of this. She's almost always eating food, and when she's not eating, she complains about being hungry. She also claims to always be hungry.
  • The Big Guy: Kung-Fu is the only character who's physically capable, and her main role in the movie is kicking down doors when needed.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: The film consistently shows blood mixed with water rather than pure blood, allowing an increase in blood volume while decreasing the gore. The first hint comes after Mac's head ends up in the well— the well water is a pale red. Near the end of the film, the whole house fills up with a mixture of blood and water.
  • 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.
  • The Cavalry: Subverted at the end. As things get weirder and weirder, Fanta prays that Togo will arrive to save them all, even comparing him to a Knight in Shining Armor and fantasizing about him on a white horse. These hopes are interspersed with scenes of Togo making his way over. But at the end of the night, when Fanta is the only survivor and more desperate than ever, Togo nearly makes it, but gets transformed into a pile of bananas instead.
  • 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 hippie-ish guys briefly flirting with the girls at the station are the members of Godiego, the band that played the film's soundtrack.
  • 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 Gluttony: Mac goes out to the well to get some melons she bought for everyone. The next time she's seen, she's a disembodied head.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: Gorgeous is seemingly possessed either by the spirit of her aunt or the house or both. All her friends are dead, including their teacher who never even got to the house in the first place. Ryuko shows up and after some polite talk, she is set on fire. The house will presumably keep killing any unwed women who stumble upon it.
  • Dramatic Wind: Ryuko favors ethereal, gauzy clothes that catch the wind in spectacular fashion. This gets a bit ridiculous during the ending, where her clothes are constantly floating around her while Gorgeous is in a conspicuously non-flowing kimono.
  • Dub Name Change: Criterion's subtitles slightly alter a few names. Shiro the cat is renamed Blanche, with both meaning "white" in Japanese and French, respectively. Oshare is translated as "Gorgeous", when the original name is closer to "fashion-conscious". Fanta is expanded to "Fantasy".
  • 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.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: The remaining girls find Sweet's clothes strewn around the room, and it seems that she was either consumed by the living mattresses or turned into a Creepy Doll. However she is not naked when they later find her dead and bloody inside the grandfather clock.
  • Ethereal White Dress: When the other girls see Gorgeous lurking in the closet in a white wedding kimono, they assume she is a ghost and are terrified. She's possessed with the ghost of her aunt. Gorgeous also wears a flowy, diaphonous nightgown in the scene where the possession first happens, adding to the creepiness.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: And that does mean everything.
  • Evil Stepmother: Subverted with Ryuko, Gorgeous' would-be mom. Eeriness aside, she seems like a kind enough woman who wants to get to know Gorgeous, and rides up a day after the girls get to Auntie's house to spend time with her.
  • 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 (and Auntie) are semi-topless for her final scene with Fantasy.
  • Final Girl: Fantasy is meant to be this. She's the one that figures out what's going on first and ends up being the savviest of all the girls. Ultimately subverted. All the other girls get killed or disappear, while Fantasy escapes the upper floor and seemingly is on her way away from the place. However, she then encounters the possessed Gorgeous, and is implied to die offscreen.
  • Foreign Language Title: "House" is its name even in Japanese. Obayashi thought it would make the film sound "taboo".
  • Gainax Ending: The deeply strange ending to this deeply strange movie has Gorgeous, who seems to have completely possessed by Auntie's spirit, receiving her would-be stepmother Ryoko at the house—and apparently killing her. Then a little meditation from Auntie's voice about The Power of Love that comes out of nowhere. Then, roll credits.
  • Genius Loci: And it's hungry.
  • Haunted House: The titular House, a creepy, run-down and overgrown, isolated mansion in the countryside that is traditionally Japanese on the inside but looks like a cross between a Victorian mansion and castle on the outside. Home to animated skeletons, malevolent furniture, a witch cat, a ghost, and the whole house itself seems to be sentient and capable of eating people.
  • 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.
    • However, Auntie's voice is the one delivering the monologue in the last moments.
  • 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.
  • Hot Wind: For some reason Ryouko is always surrounded by breezes that gently toss her many diaphanous scarves around her and highlight how beautiful she is.
  • I am a Humanitarian: After Fanta finds Mac's head, the girls eat the melons from the well, with Auntie showing Fanta that she's chewing on an eyeball while the others can't see. After the girls leave the room, the melon starts to quake and laughs with Mac's voice, implying the Aunt feed all of them Mac's head by making it look like a melon. A more straight forward example is seen not long after where Auntie eats Mac's severed hand.
  • 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.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Why does the house kill all the girls? Because Auntie, who died there long ago, died alone while waiting for her lover to come back from war. She takes out her frustration by all unwed women who come along.
  • 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.
  • Meganekko: Prof.
  • Mind Screw: There are pianos and lampshades (no no, not that kind) and bedsheets. And they attack people.
  • Mirror Scare: Gorgeous sits in the mirror, combing her hair, but the reflection in the mirror switches back and forth between her face and Auntie's face. Then the mirror cracks and flashes menacingly and supernaturally, and Gorgeous and Auntie merge into the same person.
  • 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.
    • According to Japanese wikipedia, Gorgeous' real name is Miyuki Koga and Auntie's real name is Karei Hausu. The names can apparently be seen in their correspondence early in the film.
  • Panty Shot: For some reason part of the fight between Sweet and a bunch of mattresses is filmed from below, with the girl standing on a transparent floor, and her panties are sometimes glimpsed. Later, one of the girls finds Sweet's discarded clothes, picks up the panties, sniffs them, and casts them away.
  • 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. All through the movie the girls expect Mr. Togo to meet with them, and when the bodies start piling up, his arrival is still a Hope Spot. Not only does he make it too late to save anyone... he gets turned into a big pile of bananas. Mr. Togo is certainly not being paid enough for that.
  • 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.
  • The Smart Guy: Prof., a nerdy bookworm, puts this talents to good use to help them survive. She finds Auntie's diary and uses it to figure out what's going on with them and how to defeat the house.
  • 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.
  • Title Drop: The watermelon seller points to Auntie's house and calls it "House" in English; in fact that soundbite is the same deep voice that says the movie's title in the trailer!
  • 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.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Despite otherwise looking like a well-preserved middle-aged woman, Auntie has completely white hair in a neat bob, an unsettling contrast which foreshadows the fact that she is an evil spirit who eats all the girls.