Japanese horror isn’t something I pride myself on having a lot of knowledge of or contain much material about, but I do find enjoyment in what I come across even if the resemblance to an anime style becomes apparent in the storytelling. I’ll be straight forward with you right here and now, I’m not a fan of Japanese anime. No, sir. Can’t say that I am. However, my latest venture into the J-horror sends me back in time to the groovy year of 1977. The film is called House and no, not the Steve Miner feature from ’86. Also known by it’s Japanese name Hausu, House is a simple ghost tale with ambitious and groundbreaking special effects that dared much of the decade to catch up with the times.
When the plans for 7 school girls’ summer vacation getaways fall through, hope lies with one of them – Angel. Her long overdue visit to her aunt’s countryside house seemed to be the ideal choice. Unbeknownst to the girls that the Angel’s aunt is actually a ghost who feeds off young girls of marriage age. The house comes alive and one by one the girls disappear and become the main course to Auntie’s hunger needs.
What might seem to be a ruthless, cannibalistic film is, in fact, a comedy. Yes, this J-horror is an absolute loony-toon type comedy with sprinkled horror elements. Being over 30 years old and from Japan doesn’t help Hausu’s case in being funny to someone like me – mid 20’s and from America. Luckily, I understand cultural differences and don’t hesitate to trash any type of discrimination out the window when I start to feel overwhelmed by cultural humor. Believe you me when I say that the Japanese have a sense of humor all their own and the task of trying to understand this humor is as difficult as trying to solve a trig problem. To me, the humor pars well with the humor on Sesame Street; now that I think about it, Sesame Street humor is more comprehendible. Don’t let the strange Japanese humor discourage you from seeing Hausu!
You now understand what kind of humor you’re dealing with, but what about the horror? This is a J-horror film with a strong comedy element. The horror stems from the wackiness that is Japanese humor. Imagine Evil Dead 2 on steroids. And then imagine Evil Dead 2 on steroids on steroids. Floating heads, severed flapping about body limbs, a man-eating piano, a river of blood mounts Hausu to a level where it has to be seen in all it’s glory – humor and all. These psychedelic effects are hand painted in and composition overlapped so obviously that you start to believe in the special effects. Lots of vivid colors and loud ambiance with a light hearted melody, which to me speaks fond of Terry Gilliam, can either do one or two things to you – make you laugh or make you scared. UK film distributor Eureka Entertainment’s release of Hausu will not disappoint as the quality is quite good and the sound is excellent with such an odd oddity that is Hausu.