house01The 2009 New York Asian Film festival is drawing to a close. The festival was as fantastic as always, offering an endless stream of Hong Kong gangsters, explosive arterial sprays, school girls, samurai, a bakery run by gay models, and a few dramatic moments in the middle.

By far the most surreal movie was the 1977 Japanese horror cult classic “House.” At a commercial and critical low point in the Japanese studio system, Toho decided to take a chance on a television commercial director named Nobuhiko Obayashi (you may know him from his youtube famous “Mandom” commercials). Obayashi described the Japanese studio system as “like a boring grown up” and decided that the most reasonable response was to have his then eleven year old daughter write the script to a horror movie.

The plot and dialogue have a bizarre logic and pacing that only a child could come up with. Characters come in and out of the movie at random. The sets and backgrounds appear as human sized dollhouses. The special effects are created with gallons of bright red corn syrup, marker drawings directly on film, extremely crude green screens, and puppets. The unsettlingly cheery soundtrack plays incessantly like a moog sythesizer battling a broken calliope with no off switch. In the end, no description I give could do this movie justice. No parody of Japanese horror could ever be as over the top as this original.

A little set up: The school girls, each named for their defining attribute (like the seven dwarves) have gone to stay with Gorgeous’s long lost auntie (the older woman with white hair in the clip). Her house may or may not be haunted and the girls have started to disappear or be attacked by inanimate objects in a Scooby-Doo sort of way. This is just a tiny taste of the absurdity of this movie.

If you like what you just watched, I highly recommend taking the time to install the Veoh player and watch the whole thing here.

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Body of an Angel

Geoff Manaugh at BLDG/BLOG wrote this inspiring pitch for Ghost Busters 3.

“…spoiler alert – halfway through the film, the Ghostbusters realize that NYNEX isn’t a phone system at all: it’s the embedded nervous system of an angel – a fallen angel – and all those phone calls and dial-up modems in college dorm rooms and public pay phones are actually connected into the fiber-optic anatomy of a vast, ethereal organism that preceded the architectural build-up of Manhattan. Manhattan came afterwards, that is: NYNEX was here first.”

I had an image of an enormous celestial being tripping and falling on the edge of our continent. It hit its “head” and lost consciousness, an enormous body made of stars and black voids of antimatter that only partially existed in three dimensional space sprawled out across from the Jersey shore to just south of Boston. It either died instantly or after millennia, but it was so long ago the rules of time weren’t yet codified and its passage would be incomprehensible to humans. After some great time or no time at all its body turned into outer space. It disincorporated itself and floated away from the earth like reverse meteorites. What’s left is a jumbled circuit of energy lines that were trapped as they were encased in copper that they “magnetically” seeped from the earth. If you can’t imagine it, maybe I’ll draw a picture.

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