I often discover startling lacunae in my cinematic experiences–big gaps that would put most self-appointed horror bloggers to shame. For example, I’ve never seen a Dario Argento film. I know, I know–crucify him. Get in line.
House has long been on the list of films I can’t believe I haven’t seen. Not to be confused with the US horror comedy of the same name, this House is utterly, indescribably bizarre. Just look at that screen cap: it’s straight up Monty Python. And that’s actually a fairly good indicator of the overall tone of the movie, which, aside from the Japanese language and large amounts of laughably fake blood, could easily be a forgotten episode of Flying Circus.
Well, not really. But House is way more comedy than anything else. The horror elements are mostly aesthetic; the real point, I’d argue, is to get a laugh by spoofing genre tropes (and a lot of the parodic nuances are highly specific to Japanese pre-1980s film culture, or so my Japanese lady friend indicated). If I had to sum it up with a strained analogy, as I am wont to do, I’d say that House is like Sesame Street mixed with The Electric Factory, with a dash of Twilight Zone and a few tablespoons of Evil Dead.
The plot, which is wholly irrelevant to the enjoyment of this masterpiece of nonsensery (add it, OED), centers on a group of school girls (this being a Japanese film) lead by “Gorgeous” (Oshare-chan). They all decide to spend the summer at the mansion of Gorgeous’ aged aunt. You can guess the rest: supernatural hijinks ensue.
What you perhaps cannot foresee (who are you, Rasputin?) is the hilarity with which said hijinks occur. This is nonsense at its finest. There’s kung fu fighting (one of the girls is named Kung Fu! Guess what she does? Hint: not knitting!), disembodied heads that bite people’s asses, Charleston-dancing skeletons (don’t know if it’s actually the Charleston, I just like to think that it is), and bass-heavy 70s grooves aplenty. There are animated cut-aways like in a Sesame Street song, and frequent references to contemporary Japanese TV and films.
To describe it in any more detail would do you, dear viewer, a disservice, as this is very much one of those films that consists of little more than a series of set-pieces linked by the thinnest of narratives. Check it out and see if you can come away feeling anything less than thrilled by the creative capacities of humankind.
As a film per se, I’d give it maybe two scoops. But House gets an extra half-scoop for being just totally awesome, in addition to being complete shit. Don’t ask me to explain what I mean by that. I just watched this thing, and my brain is taking a smoke break.