The 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.