The Cult Classic House Needs to Be in Your Spooky Season Rotation - VRGyani News and Media

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Friday, October 15, 2021

The Cult Classic House Needs to Be in Your Spooky Season Rotation

There is certainly no shortage of horror movies available at your disposal this Halloween. However, it might be boring to sift through different recommendation lists that highlight the same slashers or psychological horrors. Perhaps you want to watch something new, at least to you, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe, deep down, you are looking for a film involving ghost cats, haunted houses, dancing skeletons, or all of the above. If you are, then Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 surrealist horror-comedy House is for you.

Otherwise known as Hausu, the film somewhat follows a familiar plot famously co-conceived by the director and his daughter Chigumi. Young Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) finds that her composer father (Saho Sasazawa) has come back from a work trip with a new stepmother (Haruko Wanibuchi). Still reeling from the death of her mother, Gorgeous decides to skip her and her father’s usual summer tradition in order to go visit her estranged Auntie (Yōko Minamida) instead. She decides to bring along her friends, as well: Prof (Ai Matsubara), Fantasy (Kumiko Oba), Melody (Eriko Tanaka), Mac (Mieko Sato), Sweet (Masayo Miyako), and perhaps most importantly, Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo). Their names are just as literal as you expect, with Prof being the nerdy skeptic and Melody being a pianist, for example. When Gorgeous goes missing, however, the girls begin to suspect that something is wrong with Auntie and her giant house.

I say it “somewhat” follows a plot for a reason. Much like the rest of the late and great Obayashi’s work, House prefers to progress its story and especially its kills through its visuals rather than actions on screen. Perhaps its most infamous kill involves Melody and an old piano she finds on the property. She plays it throughout the film, playing “In the Evening Mist'' from composer Mickie Yoshino, but that curiosity eventually gets the better of her. Just how her comeuppance arrives is something that needs to be seen to be believed, complete with the flashing colors and very early chroma keying that are common throughout the film. It’s brutally absurd, but never in a way that feels uncomfortable to watch. On the contrary, House's kills are probably some of the most fun and creative of the 70s.

RELATED: Why Elvira Still Endures as a Horror Icon After 40 Years & CountingThis sense of palpable fun is felt throughout the film. Take the aforementioned Kung Fu, who, once the girls get to Auntie’s home, wastes almost no time kicking the asses and taking the names of the sinister spirits lurking the estate. She puts up a good fight throughout the film, but her coolness is ultimately not enough to save her. As soon as Prof and Fantasy are the only ones left standing, you already know fully what gives the movie its charm and how it’ll stick with you long after you watch it.

Although it was originally panned upon release, it has thankfully garnered a much more positive reception as time wore on. Much of this has to do with the fact that many who watch it better understand Obayashi’s intentions rather than expecting a straightforward horror film. The film would help to shape the director’s most iconic motifs, from anti-war themes to surreal imagery. He would later go on to direct such films as 1983’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and 2017’s Hanagatami, further cementing his legacy. Without his directorial debut, however, there is a high chance we wouldn’t have similarly surreal and impactful films like Uzumaki, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, or even The Evil Dead. Whether you consider yourself a horror fan or someone who just wants to watch something different this year, you just can’t go wrong with House.

House is currently available to stream on HBO Max and Criterion Channel.

KEEP READING: The Best Horror Movies on HBO Max Right Now



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