House [ハウス] (1977) dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi
Venue: Harrie Massey LT (25 Gordon Street)
How to describe Nobuhiko Obayashi’s indescribable 1977 movie House (Hausu)? As a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby-Doo as directed by Mario Bava? Any of the above will do for this hallucinatory head trip about a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky country home and comes face-to-face with evil spirits, a demonic house cat, a bloodthirsty piano, and other ghoulish visions, all realized by Obayashi via mattes, animation, and collage effects. Equally absurd and nightmarish, House might have been beamed to Earth from some other planet.
House was a hit in Japan, and though it never attained Jaws-size success, it did secure Obayashi’s place in the Japanese filmmaking firmament, where he remains to this day, a still popular director of best-selling-novel and manga adaptations, many of which centre on schools full of superpowered students who can warp time or swap bodies with a best friend of the opposite sex, all in the interest of a more magical coming-of-age. (So recognized are Obayashi’s successes in Japan that in 2009 he was honoured with the badge of the Order of the Rising Sun, an imperial recognition for distinguished Japanese and non-Japanese alike; Clint Eastwood was so honoured that same year.)
In the years following its release, House has gradually accumulated a cult following and is now considered a cult classic. Contemporary review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes offers an 90% approval rating from 31 critics—an average rating of 7.30/10, which provides the consensus, "House is a gleefully demented collage of grand guignol guffaws and bizarre sequences." According to film critic and scholar Jasper Sharp, the film successfully managed to "recapture[d] a younger audience demographic believed lost to television and Hollywood".
‘The girls will wake up... when they are hungry.’