Saturday, January 22, 2011

House - Cute Japanese Horror?

One of the newer installments from the Criterion Collection is "House." Like an awesome comic book cover, this simple, yet unique movie poster drew me into watching the film. I first thought the creature seen on the poster was a giant bear, but after viewing, it only turned out to be a white "witch" cat.
Released in 1977, House was a horror film directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. The story follows 7 school girls, who are named and act in a similar fashion to the 7 dwarfs from "Snow White." The leader of the pack, Gorgeous, brings her six friends (Prof, Mac, Kung Fu, Fantasy, Melody and Sweet) to visit her aunt who she hasn't seen since her mother passed away years ago. When they arrive to the Aunt's house, one by one, the girls start disappearing. As it turns out, the aunt is a ghost who eats maidens because her fiance never returned after fighting in WWII.
This movie has silly moments and is not as scary as other Japanese horror films such as "The Ring" or "The Grudge". However, there is some really disturbing imagery surrounded by bouncy sounds and psychedelic lights including:
  • Mac's decapitated head levitating from a well and attacking the protagonist.
  • Melody gets eaten by a possessed piano after biting her fingers off.
  • At the climax, blood is flowing everywhere, a la The Shining or Suspiria.

Overall, this movie uses all kinds of camera tricks and has an interesting set design. The piano score, sounding like a music box, adds to the creepiness of the film. And even though I'm not an Anime fan, the girls are fun to watch in their "Sailor Moon" outfits as they are being massacred in their own unique way. If I had to choose a favorite, Kung Fu was the best since she fought intangible ghosts using martial arts dressed only in a tank top and her underwear.

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