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Film / The Happiness of the Katakuris

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The Happiness of the Katakuris is a 2001 Japanese film directed by Takashi Miike, and is very loosely based on the South Korean film The Quiet Family. This movie blends so many different elements that it utterly defies description. It is in roughly equal parts Surreal Horror, Black Comedy, Musical, and Farce.

The Katakuri family, after a long string of failures decide to pool their remaining resources and open a guest house in the country. At first, this seems like a great idea that is finally bringing a measure of success to the family; until their guests start dropping dead. Not from mysterious or supernatural means, nor even the result of a serial killer; but for purely mundane reasons. Suicide, heart failure, and so on. All played strictly for laughs as the family attempts to hide the bodies, in order to prevent the deaths from ruining the house's reputation; because, after all, dead bodies are bad for business.

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This film contains examples of:

  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Played for laughs. The narrator's a little girl; her mother randomly decided to run away from her father while pregnant; her uncle used to be a successful Salaryman... until the day he flipped out; and Grandpa is on death's door for most of the film.
  • Blatant Lies: Much of Richard's claims to woo Shizue are this, beginning with the claim that he's a member of the British air force.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Masao has a nightmare of finding the head of his first dead guest inside his fridge, and wakes bolting up screaming.
  • The Dead Can Dance: One of the song numbers feature the dead buried guests rising up and doing little a dance.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: One of the main sources of the film's Black Comedy.
  • Foreign Remake: Of a Korean movie called The Quiet Family.
  • Gorn:
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    • A guest's corpse is found in his room, having graphically committed suicide by stabbing himself with a sharpened key. This leads to a musical number where the Katakuris ask "He had a knife, why didn't he use that?!?"
    • The bit with an imp tearing out a woman's uvula is kind of gorn-ish, but it's in Claymation.
  • Gratuitous English: Played for Laughs. Richard Sagawa randomly peppers his speech with English words in an attempt to back up his dubious claims that he's a British Navy Officer.
  • Medium Blending: Three sequences are done in Claymation; the latter half of the opening scene, Richard and Jinpei falling down a ravine and the family rescuing the guest house from the erupting volcano.
  • Out with a Bang: A sumo wrestler dies from a heart attack during sex; and his girlfriend, who is unfortunately trapped underneath, suffocates soon after.
  • Pastiche: Of so many things; including classic Hollywood musicals and horror films.
  • Rule of Funny: Especially if it's darkly funny.
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