I had a competition a few days ago to name a film that that people would like to see on the page. I had a lot of great suggestions but I picked a film called "House" (thanks Trina) as I felt it sounded appropriately insane enough to tie in with the blog.
I had never seen the film before. I just had my copy delivered this morning in the post and have literally just watched it. Now I'm a bit lost on what to say!
"House" (Hausu) is a 1977 Japanese film (I can't really pidgeonhole it into a particular genre) directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi. This was his debut feature film although he was already well known for his avant-garde experimental short films and his TV commercials made for Japan, starring Hollywood stars such as Kirk Douglas and Charles Bronson.
Before I talk about the film, I should talk a bit about how the film came to be made.
In the beginning, Obayashi and a small group of individuals were interested in making short experimental movies using 8mm and 16mm film. After a while the profile of this group increased, and they started to show their films at makeshift venues. At one of these venues was a producer of one of Japan's leading advertisers, who proposed that they use their experimental techniques to make advertisements.
Obayashi took up this proposal. Instead of commercials, he likes to call them avant-garde and experimental amateur films, except the themes are for products. He was also attracted to the professional equipment that he had at his disposal in a studio environment.He became well known as an innovator in advertising, using all his technical and experimental expertise.
In the seventies, the Japanese film studios were having a difficult period and found it hard to compete with commercial Hollywood films. At that time in Japan, to be a film director you had to be an employee at one of the studios and work your way up to assistant director before becoming a director yourself if you were lucky. Obayashi wasn't an employee of a studio so thought his chances of making a feature film were non existant.
Studios weren't making a lot of money so they hired out their studios to advertisement companies. Obayashi hired the biggest studio at Toho to make his commercials. One day a Toho producer visited his studio and asked if he had seen the film "Jaws"? The producer said that he'd like to see such an exciting film made in Japan but can't work out how to make such a film. He then said that Spielberg was an amateur 8mm filmmaker who got a part-time job in Hollywood in TV work and then created "Jaws". He then said that sounded a lot like Obayashi and did he think that he could make a film like that at Toho? Obayashi said yes, and the producer asked if he could come up with a film proposal.
Obayashi thought of what story he could come up with that was similar to "Jaws". They all came down to man eating animals of all forms which he thought was tired as everyone was trying to make these films. He went home and asked his young daughter, Chigumi, what she thought was scary. She was brushing her hair at the mirror and said, "If my reflection could jump out and eat me, that would be scary." That's how "House" was concieved. After the film was green lit, it was put on hold for two years as no director wanted to make the film. This opened the door for Obayashi to direct.
Onto the film. "House" is about a group of schoolgirls only known by nicknames. Gorgeous (the pretty one), Fantasy (day dreamer), Mac (the chubby one), Prof (smart), Kung Fu (good fighter), Melody (accomplished musician), and Sweet (the nice one). All the girls apart from Gorgeous plan on going on a camping trip with their teacher for the summer holidays, which then gets cancelled. Gorgeous plans on going on holiday with her father who is a successful film scorer. Her father comes back from Italy and introduces Gorgeous to her soon-to-be stepmother who will be joining them on holiday.This upsets Gorgeous who then goes to her room and writes a letter to her aunt asking if she and her friends can come and stay? Soon after, a cat comes to the house, along with a reply saying they can all go to visit.
They make their way to where the aunt lives in the countryside, and have a bit of difficulty finding the house, but they finally arrive and are greeted by Gorgeous' aunt. After a brief tour of the house, the girls are left to their own devices. They soon start disappearing one by one, the other girls start looking for them only to be taken out in some imaginative ways!
As per usual, I only like to give a brief synopsis of the film so I don't spoil it for anyone. All I can say is, this is a really strange film. Part horror, dark fairytale, very sugary teen melodrama, surreal comedy and bad acid trip. Some of it was maybe a bit hard even for me to stomach, I thought there were some really bad but still highly surreal attempts at slapstick comedy which were groan worthy. But the film was entertaining enough, I don't think I'll see anything like it again!
If you like surrealism and almost incomprehensible images this film is one you should look out for. If you want to see someone being eaten by a grand piano or a man turn into bananas for no reason check it out! I liked it to an extent but found a lot of the first half of the film too sugary and sweet for my liking. I like it a little darker!
The whole backstory of how the film came to be made is very interesting and I once again thank Trina for choosing the film. Although I liked about 60% of it, it 100% belongs on this page!
I thank everyone for giving the page a look, feel free to let your thoughts be known in the comments section below!