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Hausu '77 - Belligeretron

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May 28th, 2007


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01:58 am - Hausu '77
Thanks to Five Minutes To Live and atomicgypsy, I had the opportunity to watch Hausu. This is basically a Japanese haunted house flick released in 1977. It was directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. Obayashi had made one short film, back in '66, prior to this. Eleven years, by imdb's count! This is a feature-length debut from a forty-year old man, and by God, does it show! Does it even matter that he was born in Hiroshima?

There's an interesting shot of the h-cloud over Hiroshima, in Hausu. It's in the middle of a flashback. Dig this: You see footage pretending to be an old silent movie, black and white really sharp. . . it's a young woman and a young man. . . they're courting, falling in love, about to get married. You're basically watching a film within a film. Suddenly, the reel changes. . . dyed yellow, now. . . the country in mobilizing for war, the young man is caught up in the moment, he needs to leave. . . patriotic asshole. . . he goes. . . change reel, dyed blue, small squad of Japanese soldiers marching past a village, close up of the young man in uniform, zoom back out to the villagers standing by the side of the road. World War II is just beyond the outskirts of this village. The villagers wave their Japanese flags. A younger lady, better dressed than her fellow villagers, dashes to the young man's side when it begins to rain. . . in the background, the old young lady turns away. . . Change reel, red dye, total war. Planes everywhere, cut in close to a fighter, fuselage is blown, sparks and smoke, debris and bullets, the pilot is riddled with enemy fire, pull in closer to the cockpit, the young man sits like Buddha as the copilot. Exterior shot, plane flashes by and continues downward, the dead pilot and serene copilot plunge in the rocks. . . Change reel, black and white, panning up over rocks, to a cliff, to a headstone, to a woman in black. . . the young lady became the woman in black, holding a red rose, clenching it, bleeding. . . Change reel, h-cloud, cut.


That's a five minute flashback, right there. . . It was introduced by the cast's Brainy One reciting a passage from an old book to her awestruck, bedipshitted gaggle. The Brainy One is smart. She wears glasses, and reads. When she reads, a crucial piece of the plot is revealed, so everyone shuts up. When she finishes reading, The Musical One, The Buff One, The Pampered One, The Nondescript One, The One Who Always Eats, and the Deep One all go back to ignoring her. That's okay, because she never has anything good to say anyway. That's because she's a badly rendered archetype. She's only interesting to me because she's an archetype I'm only loosely familiar with, that is, a Japanese one.

Anyway, these schoolgirls mewl and cackle throughout the flashback. Real nice.

I can only guess that initial Japanese audiences found this movie insufferable, by and large. But I'm just as sure there was an 8%, back there. . . and as the end credits began to wind down, amongst themselves they muttered between the drags off their roaches "When is this playing again? Let's just not go home. . ."




I haven't a fucking clue what this movie is *really* about. The copy I got was without subtitles. Not that they're particularly necessary to enjoy the film, but talking about the film is probably made a little more difficult. The woman above is some kind of Goddess-incarnate, or Lamenting Spirit or whatever. She's tied to the house, somehow, and the sad story from World War II, and another entity that takes the form of a glamorous woman. The cast of schoolgirls are merely instruments of fate, or blindly caught up in their destinies, or something else more appropriately Japanese. I'm certain the language has a word for "Born to drown in a parlor full of blood."

The soundtrack is done by a live band, and there's a "melancholy" theme that runs throughout. Runs throughout and into the ground, in fact. But what the hell, everything else in this movie is overdone, anyway. And that's only part of what makes it so great.

This is pretty much horror. My question on the subject of genre is whether it's supposed to be a gore film for schoolgirls, or a really lite schoolgirl torture pic. Maybe it's both. Maybe schoolgirls and schoolgirl-oriented torture-artists all showed up at the theaters on Hause's opening day. I really don't know. In a way, this film resides in a sort of vacuum for me, and that's why I love it so.


Visually, Hausu is one striking film. . . I'm talking about paintings of ghost cats puking blood, to a piano chewing up a budding spinster, to white scarves twisting in the wind. . . The backdrops are often very LOUD, sometimes animated, sometimes superimposed, sometimes double-exposed. . . In terms of content and cinematographic trickery, Obayashi must've thrown everything he had into this one. And God bless him for it. He made one more fan doing so.

Above, I described a five minute stretch of the movie. The movie is a hundred and ten minutes long, which means there are twenty-two other five minute stretches to enjoy. I can't recall the last film I've seen that was as busy as this one. I'll be scouring the review sites for more on Obayashi soon enough. If you're interested, M.C. posted a few more images and a brief write-up, here. Special thanks go out to her for verifying the assertion I made that every girl who took her clothes off in this film went on to do softcore.



(10 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:bafooz
Date:May 28th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
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I miss all the good stuff, don't I? I just get treated to Oldboy.

Love the ... cat? Dog? Dat? Cog? spewing blood.
[User Picture]
From:rjhudson
Date:May 28th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
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Oh, just wait until you hear all about Group Home Rape Fiend.
[User Picture]
From:rjhudson
Date:May 28th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
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Oops, that was meant to be "Friend."
[User Picture]
From:bafooz
Date:May 29th, 2007 11:54 am (UTC)
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Maybe we can put it on the schedule for a viewing next time I roll into town.
[User Picture]
From:entaru
Date:May 28th, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC)
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"The Brainy One is smart. She wears glasses, and reads. When she reads, a crucial piece of the plot is revealed, so everyone shuts up. When she finishes reading, The Musical One, The Buff One, The Pampered One, The Nondescript One, The One Who Always Eats, and the Deep On"

So it's a re-make of "Breakfast Club" then?
[User Picture]
From:rjhudson
Date:May 28th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
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We should both agree to lurk less and post more.
[User Picture]
From:entaru
Date:May 29th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
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I can see the blood kitty walking away, his fist triumphantly in the air, in a statement that even troubled ghost blood spitting kitties need love too.
[User Picture]
From:therossbrothers
Date:June 2nd, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
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I couldn't agree more

-aum
[User Picture]
From:aum
Date:June 11th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
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So what's the story with this Five Minutes to Live, stuff? I'm looking at their site and it's a bit...questionable. How did you find out about this? Have you used them much?
[User Picture]
From:rjhudson
Date:June 11th, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC)
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Five Minutes to Live OG. Straight up. Used to see them advertise in Shock Cinema. . . For years. Quite a few companies used to operate like that. I don't know what the status with them is, now. Legally, I mean. I'm not sure I'd want too much attention paid to operations like those. Offhandedly, they seem to operate like VCD manufacturers in Asia. I haven't used them at all, and I don't recall how atomicgypsy came across this tape. I wouldn't hesitate to use them, though, if I had the money.

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