Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hausu (1977)

NetFlix 3.7/5
IMDB 7.5/10
My Rating: 9/10

 A schoolgirl decides to spend her summer at her aunt's country house with her friends, but disturbing events after their arrival prove the house is haunted and OH MY GOD THE COLORS, MAN!  THE COLORSSSS!  MY FEET ARE NOT TOUCHING THIS FLOOR AND NOW I CAN UNDERSTAND THE RUG, GIVE ME ANOTHER HIT OF THAT LIZARD, MAN...

OK, Hausu is not your typical haunted house film, not at all.  And by that I mean, Hausu is like a haunted house film as Dennis Hopper on acid is like Captain Kangaroo.  Holy hell, this was amazing! One of the most imaginative movies I've ever seen. I strongly recommend any working visual artist to see this, because it will give them creative inspiration for a year.  I don't even BEGIN to know how to describe or review this thing. Imagine the Partridge Family mashed up with Evil Dead and directed by the Pan's Labyrinth guy against a Dario Argento color palette.  Virtually every shot of this was a framed artwork, and the scene transitions were constantly cool - If you thought the guy's dead body in Heavy Metal becoming the landscape was a clever scene switch, you need to see this. It is not actually a plotted movie so much as it is an experience.I do

But there is a story, of sorts.  The first past of it resembles a musical chunk of that guilty pleasure, the Brady Bunch movie (I won't admit to liking it, nor will anyone else, but really, it was a dark and secret cupcake of joy, and easily one of the best of the usually dreary movies made from old TV shows).  Our heroine, Gorgeous, heads off to the countryside accompanied by friends with names like Melody, Kung Fu, and Sweet.  The skies are blue... I mean REALLY blue, like the blue that you'd experience after doing mushrooms and LSD and watching The Yellow Submarine all night...  The clouds are fluffy and painted on, and life is a Sunshine Day.

And yes, the girls are standing in front of a painted backdrop from which we just panned out to reveal the identical painted backdrop in larger scale, all while the Partridge Family bus drives away.  If you're having problems already, stay far away from this because this is a movie that believes mental circuit breakers are pointless if they're not tripped as often as possible.  At any moment you're fully expecting Gorgeous and her friends to burst into singing, "Keep On Dancing".

Things start to go Twilight Zone as the girls arrive at the house.  Well, perhaps not so much Twilight Zone as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but, you know, more surreal.  The fun kicks off with one of the girls being chased around the yard by a floating head that bites her on the ass, and events get more bizarre from there.

Is the house haunted?  Is the aunt really crippled?  What's up with her evil white cat?  While virtually every scene in the film remains gorgeous, like our title character:

...Things quickly go from bad to worse for our cast of attractive young victims:

And not to belabor the point, but yes, that's a girl being eaten by a piano.  This is just one of the film's endless surrealist sequences which bombard the audience with horror, animation, comedy, over-the-top gore, and several Picasso's worth of color palette.

I'm not spoilering anything with these caps because the visual overload in the film is so intense that they don't even scratch the surface. Many scenes are set against painted backdrops instead of actual locations, giving it a really weird ambiance that wavers between HR Puffnstuf and Nightmare before Christmas. The killings, when they happen, are some of the most memorable I've ever seen. I can't recall a single distinct death from any Friday the 13th movie, but I won't forget the piano scene for a very long time.  Seriously, this is one worth seeing for the sheer bizarreness of the whole thing - You won't see another film like it.

Here's the trailer, for an idea of what you're in for:

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