Movies »Hausu

directed by Noribuki Obayashi (1977)

You might recognize Hausu from a viral video I blogged about months back. Surely, you might assume, the entire movie can’t be as insane as that clip of the killer lampshade and those images of severed limbs and demonic cats… but if that’s what you assumed, I’m happy to report that you are so, so wrong.

To describe this film as crazy, schizophrenic, bonkers, and wild is a gross understatement; it’s an excess of experiments that will blow the mind of the viewer and open the doors of perception to any artist (especially those working in film and video) to just how far the boundaries and tropes of the medium can be pushed… It’s basically the craziest thing I’ll probably ever see and my grand kids will probably hear tell of its cinematic insanity.

What happens is this: a group of school girls go to visit one of their auntie’s for vacation. Before you know it, a decapitated head jumps around and bites a girl’s butt, an old lady has an eyeball in her mouth and dances with a skeleton, another girl is eaten and dismembered by a piano, and a man turns into a pile of bananas after enjoying some ramen with a bear. What, really, can you expect from a film that lives by the logic “Old cats can open doors, but only ghost cats can close them again.” The ghost cat in this case is Snowflake, the coolest Persian ever put on screen, who is frequently flung into the arms of actors by off-screen feline throwers. The movie certainly has a sense of humor.

Director Nobuhiko Obayashi is an experimental icon whose career only just began with this masterpiece of mayhem. His other titles include If She Looks Back, It’s Love, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Beijing Watermelon, I Want to Hear the Wind’s Song, and only just a few years back, Before That Day. While much of his work is even harder to come by than Hausu, here is a site that features some of his early experimental work. And despite what you or anyone might think based on the description, Hausu does not quite qualify as purely experimental. It was, in fact, a huge hit in Japan upon its release.

If you’re ever able to access a copy of this movie and you want to know what it might be like to be an insane person, do not let the opportunity pass you by; we have our good friends Matthew and Nora to thank so very much for the DVD-R we now proudly own. The IFC theater on 6th Avenue played it just the other night (sorry for not giving enough warning), in the meantime, gaze upon the stills I’ve gathered below/after the jump.

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Posted on January 31, 2010

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1 Comment

  • From Janus Films on February 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for the great review! HOUSE will actually be at the IFC Center for the rest of the week, and will be doing late-night shows there for a while. It’s also touring the country in a new 35mm print. (Dates are on our website.)