Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) and her schoolmates are on vacation for the summer. Her father (Saho Sasazawa) works as a composer for a movie company and has been working in Italy. The two of them had plans to spend time together. When she arrives home her father hits her with the news that he is remarrying and that she will have a new mother. He then introduces her to Ryoko Ema (Haruko Wanibuchi). Even though her mother died eight years ago, Gorgeous hates the interloper and refuses to go with them on vacation.
So that she doesn’t have to go with her father and future stepmother, Gorgeous writes a letter to her aunt (Yoko Minamida) and asks her if she can come visit for the summer. She really doesn’t know her aunt and has only visited her once so she isn’t sure if her aunt will want her to come. “Auntie” sends a reply welcoming her. Gorgeous invites six of her friends, Fantasy (Kumiko Oba), Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo), Mac (Mieko Sato), Melody (Eriko Tanaka), Prof (Ai Matsubara) and Sweet (Masayo Miyako) to go along with her.
No sooner do the girls arrive at Auntie’s estate when strange things begin to happen. One by one the girls are attacked by random and normally innocuous items in the house.
“House AKA “Hausu” was released in 1977 and was directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. It is an experimental Japanese horror movie with comedy undertones. The film was produced by Toho Studios.
The movie has unusual editing, strange colors and lots of symbolism. The main look of the film is surrealism wrapped in ridiculous insanity. Many refer to it as trippy. Some even called it funny. It is not for everyone but does have a fierce cult following. As for the symbolism, I’ve read a lot of different interpretations of the film and what the thematic elements mean.
Based on what I have read, the themes of the film vary depending on what the critic sees. In other words, the premise is in the eye of the beholder. The special effects are also a strange mixture of low budget tricks and Monty Python caricatures. At times things are confusing and at others just ludicrous and messy. The best you can do is to assume that everything shown is intentional.
The main character in the film is a fluffy white cat called Blanche. The cat shows up at Gorgeous’ house. They take it with them to Auntie’s house. Blanche ends up being a sort of familiar for Auntie and, just like the house, is possessed by a demon. (That’s typecasting for sure.) The demon cat appears to initiate a lot of the horrors that the girls are subject to. Blanche is a reoccurring character and even some of the posters feature it as a stylized fang-sporting orange cat creature.
I wasn’t all that thrilled with the movie. The cinematic elements were innovative and creative but overall, the film just didn’t do anything for me. My favorite part of the movie is the poster of the wild-eyed orange cat thing.