House Poster

House (1977)

Comedy     
IMDB Rayting:   7.4/10
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese

A schoolgirl and six of her classmates travel to her aunt's country home, which tries to devour the girls in bizarre ways.

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mrtimlarabee 18 January 2008

About 2 months after obtaining this title, I've not been able to find words to describe this movie, other than strange and bizarre. Depending on your mood it's either a noble failure or a triumph in film making. I couldn't use the terms ground breaking to describe it, but there's something important about the texture of this film.

Imagine John Hughes and Sam Raimi kicking back and doing some hard drugs and deciding to make a movie together. It might look like this. It spends a good amount of time before it gets anywhere, focusing on four teen girls whose names seem to support their abilities, expertise, or interests. At this point, it plays almost like an average teen rom-com. But note the campy soundtrack, dancing school girls, and some rather strange almost comic book like backgrounds.

It starts getting interesting as the girls set forth to movie's namesake house. They flashback and do storytelling in the form of a silent movie. We get to see some slapstick characters which don't belong in a horror movie, and we have a roll call of our four heroines as they head off into the woods. Enter the House alluded to in the film's title.

So the horror begins. But this is Sam Raimi style horror. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some of this inspired Evil Dead - if the film was available - who knows. There's a whole series of odd scenes. Most notable is the infamous piano scene, where a piano devours someone. But that's not all. There's an evil kitty, a clock the spills out blood ala Evil Dead, a river of blood and some kooky camera work and odd cut aways! "Ambitious" might be the operative word to describe this movie. When I watch it, I'm not quite sure if it all works. The effects are crude, but not in the Ed Wood "you can see the strings" style. For me, some of it is like reading a comic book. They're bigger than life, not meant to scare you in the classical sense. But it is unlike anything you've seen before.

I guess if I have any gripe about the film, it's that it takes a good while to get really fun, but when you get there, it's an insane joyride. But it's not a normal movie viewing experience and a rating does not serve it well. Watch it for yourself - and it probably wouldn't hurt to have a drink or two while doing so.

VideoKidVsTheVoid 8 March 2007

In the hands of experimental Japanese filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi, the tale of seven "unmarried" young high-school girls who, during a school break, travel to a spooky, remote hilltop house to visit the reclusive, mysterious Aunt of one of their fold only to be consumed one at a time by the Ghost-House/Aunt in increasingly novel ways, is escalated into a spastic, phantasmagorical confetti burst of avant-garde techniques and tonalities. Not a minute goes by without some kind of imaginative and spirited experimental visual manipulation or interjection; from kaleidoscopic color schemes, to frame and time altering collage montage, to wild, high-concept mixed media integration (animation, mattes, props, sets, etc), to mini-movie injections (lovingly parodying/mimicking everything from silent film stylistics, to romantic fantasies to obligatory action scenes). Any and all workings of the film form are here incorporatedly warped; from imagery and editing to music and sound to content and presentation. Even the sketches of characters and their respective performances by the actors are hemmed in time with the overall off-the-wall configuration. (Example: Each girl is intentionally drawn with their stock personalities (the musician, the over-weight eater, the athlete, etc) novelly paraded in gleeful iconic irreverence.) The moods and tones of the film are equally melodic in their own discordant tangential way; seamlessly walking the line between comedy, horror and the deadpan aloof. It all adds up to a whole lot of fun. Where else could you see a girl eaten by a piano, an upright Bear helping cook dinner at a roadside noodle-stand or a man turned into a pile of bananas because he doesn't like melons!? With all its packed in candy-colored confections and novel door prizes, "Hausu" is a cinematic surprise party all in one...just add you.

Get an English Subtitled DVD at: allcluesnosolutions.com

lewiskendell 2 February 2011

"Mac, you sure look tasty, being round and all."

The acronym WTF was invented for House.

I was warned beforehand that this movie was off the wall, but hey, 75% of the Japanese movies I've seen have been crazy. It started off as certainly a quirky movie, with unconventional screen translations from scene to scene, wacky editing, bubbly Japanese school girls with names like Gorgeous (she's very pretty), Kung Fu (she knows Kung Fu), and Melody (in a shocking twist, she's musically inclined), and just loads of that particular kind of flavor that some Japanese movies have.

Then the six main characters took a trip to visit one of their aunts at her home (the house of the title), and the horror aspect of the movie set in. What specific kind of horror? The kind that involves a severed head appearing and biting a girl on the butt, and then rubbing up against it. Stunningly, the movie only escalates from there.

House is fun, but it's clearly insane. An affinity for the weird and zany is a must, or this will be a waste of time for you. This movie has creativity coming out of the wazoo. How many times have you seen someone viciously attacked by feather pillows and mattresses? The special effects are also great, especially for the seventies. This was probably the most psychedelic movie I've ever seen.

Is House a frightening movie? No. But if you have the right kind of sense of humor for it, you'll have a ball getting together with like-minded friends and watching this. There's a lot of comedy, of both the intentional and unintentional varieties. It's all very tongue-in- cheek. Even the soundtrack is hilarious, if you pay attention to it. 

House gets a hearty recommendation from me. It's an entertaining, inventive spin on the haunted house formula, with a lot of uniquely Japanese craziness thrown into the mix. It's worth owning, in my opinion. 

Leofwine_draca 5 September 2011

A weird and vibrant haunted house flick unlike anything else you'll ever see. HOUSE is revered by some as a classic of kitsch Japanese cinema; it's so outlandish, so bizarre that it avoids all attempts at pigeonholing and ends up in a genre all of its own. I guess you could call that genre "anything goes".

HOUSE resembles THE EVIL DEAD, not in look or style, but in the pure level of inventiveness on display. It's a film that's full of imagination and energy despite the often languid pacing, and the story of a group of schoolgirls visiting a crumbling mansion in the deep countryside is only the start of it. In one of the film's bizarrest highlights, a guy is transformed into a pile of bananas. It's that kind of film.

The real star is director Nobuhiko Ohbayashi, who delivers the kind of drug-crazed madness that fans of cult cinema can only dream of. Once the hauntings begin, they don't let up, and Ohbayashi delivers a non-stop roller-coaster of crude, low budget and silly special effects. There are disembodied heads, evil animated cat spirits, a carnivorous piano and much more besides. The cartoonish action on-screen is accompanied by a sublime music score, of which the central theme is the type to get in your head and stay put. I won't say anymore about the film, for fear of spoiling the effect, but if you're a fan of outré cinema then you simply have to see it.

Witchfinder-General-666 2 June 2008

Wow! Noribuki Obayashi's "Hausu" aka. "House" of 1977 is easily one of the weirdest films I ever saw and I generally generally am a fan of the bizarre. A Horror-fan and avid lover of Japanese cinema, especially from the 70s, I had high expectations for this film, and I was not disappointed, even though the film was totally different than what I had expected. Having read no reviews of the film before seeing it, I expected a pure Horror film, but it turned out to be an incomparably bizarre and experimental Horror-parody, with a delightfully macabre and grotesque humor rather than scares. The film already starts out extremely strange (in an awesome manner), and it gradually gets weirder and weirder as it goes on.

The film starts off with a bunch of teenage high-school girls, all of whom have certain distinctive characteristics that are mentioned in their nicknames, who travel to the countryside to visit the aunt of one of the girls. I don't want to spoil even a tiny bit of the plot of this unique Horror-parody, and therefore won't carry with a plot description, but I can assure that fans of surrealism and weird cinema will be delighted. While "Hausu" is not a film I would recommend to everyone, this is an absolute must-see to all my fellow fans of Japanese film, the Horror-genre and bizarre art-house cinema. Director Obayashi uses a bizarre of editing imaginable, with grotesque cutting, totally insane effects. Sometimes the editing equals that of a (bizarre) video-clip, only to jump to an entirely different style. Yet all this strangeness never draws the viewer away from the story, which is itself just as surreal as the film's style. Overall "Hausu" can be described as a unique and bizarre fairy tale with a grotesque and ingenious, often macabre and always unique sense of humor. There are moments in this film at which the viewer will just stare at the screen not knowing what to think, and scenes at which one is barely able to breathe in laughter, and every second of the film is very strange. Very delightfully strange that is, as "Hausu" is a bizarre gem that must not be missed by lovers of the surreal. Mainstream audiences might not know what to think of this, but every fan of a more unique form of cinema should give this a try. Surreal, exceptional, and one of a kind!

Juggertrout 13 March 2009

This film is impossible to describe, or review, or assign an arbitrary number out of ten. In fact, calling it a film throws up the very idea of what constitutes a film. It is filmed, yes. As far as I can tell, the actors knew they were being filmed and were probably paid (in drugs maybe), but yet I struggle to define this as a film. It just doesn't seem right.

Hausu is an experience. Quite an experience. You can actually pinpoint the moment where the film-makers got bored and began ingesting large amounts of LSD. It's about the time the floating head appears, followed by the girl-eating piano, and then the malevolent cat spirit that gushes blood, and the carnivorous lamp. This, of course, assumes that the film- makers were clean to begin with. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no doubt in my mind that the film-makers started on some type of cannabis, explaining the nonsensical edits, preeeety colours and crazy scene involving a man and a bucket. Then they moved on to something harder, perhaps skunk. That would explain the talking watermelon (at at least, I think it was a talking watermelon). By the time we get to the 'Hausu' in question, dear readers and viewers, it is clear that we are being directed by hypomanic drug fiends, so tweaked on psychoactive hallucinogens that they've lost all concept of reality, rationality and reason. The orgy of drugs that precipitates throughout the crew eventually spills on to the filmed scenarios, where our hapless (and one can only assume drug-addled) girls are being subjected to a series of criminally insane scenes of violence, comedy and epilepsy-inducing flashes of colours.

The experience eventually ends, rather solemnly I must say, although after at least 20 minutes of non-stop psychotropic hallucinogenia, it acts as a welcome buffer zone as you gravitate back into reality. Hausu is an astonishing experience. I kinda want to watch it on drugs, but I value my life too much. If someone does manage to, and lives, please post a comment describing your experiences. I'm sure many will be fascinated.

ebiros2 6 June 2011

This movie is the directing debut for (the great) Nobuhiko Obayashi. He has directed commercials for television before he got into directing movies. This experience helped Obayashi learn many special effects used in TV commercials. It shows in this movie as almost every scene contains some sort of special visual effects.

In the mid '70s Toho studio was looking for fresh ideas for movies that would be a box office success. They've decided to use the then relative unknown Nobuhiko Obayashi to direct a movie with fresh new approach. Many of Toho's experienced staff expressed concerns over this because Obayashi never had experience of being an assistant director. Project manager for this movie then said "Us experienced directors aren't coming up with hit movies, so experience is not the criteria for making a successful movie. Lets allow this young director to make a movie to see if he knows more about what the audience really wants."

The original plot of this movie was written by the then 13 year old daughter of Obayashi himself.

The movie has a strange career as it was rediscovered by an Asian movie affectionado who had connections with Janus films (which is the parent company of the Criterion Collection) after being released in Japan over 30 years ago. It then made limited showings in theaters around the U.S.. Very unusual as not too many film gets a roadshow in another country 30 years after it was made.

Seven girls makes a plan to go on a vacation at one of the girl's aunts house in the country side. They don't suspect that the aunt died long time ago, and what inhabits the house is the apparition of the aunt that can remain young only by devouring the bodies of others.

The movie is a horror comedy with bit of erotic exploitation starring many actors who were teen idols at the time. When it was first released, Miki Jinbo who played the role of Kung Fu gathered the most votes by the young male audiences, as she kicked her way around the house wearing skimpy tank top and shorts.

This movie is very original in almost every way. Visuals are unusual as expressed earlier that Obayashi used many of the special effects he's learned while making TV commercials. Color is also very surreal as is the acting, but the movie has strange charm all its own, and not boring to watch. You can almost say that this is an artistic film that's also geared to entertain the audience.

In the end Toho studio got just what it was hoping to achieve - a box office smash hit. This movie also established the career of Obayashi as a bankable director. Obayashi went on to direct many other successful movies including the original "Girl who leaped through time".

ElijahCSkuggs 5 March 2008

Hausu is basically the most bizarre Haunted House movie I've ever seen. The story follows a group of girlfriends who head to the country for vacation. They go to one of the girl's Aunt's house to spend their time. But beknownst to all of them the Aunt isn't really who she says she is. And there's a cat named Snowflake that obviously has some issues. Girls begin experiencing the supernatural and things don't seem to be slowing up. Reading back what I just wrote kinda makes the movie seem not so interesting. Seems like just another haunted house flick. But if you pop in this flick, almost immediately you will realize you've never seen a film like this. Filmed in a lively, colorful way mixed with a fantastic soundtrack, the flick exceeds on all levels of production. Combine the production values with a children's movie feel, then combine that with some blood, violence and nudity, you get a very different hybrid genre of a flick. Hausu is a flick that all fans of unique horror or cinema for that matter should check out.

atlasmb 11 May 2014

This film falls into the comedy, fantasy and horror genres according to this site. So let's start from there. Is it funny? No, not really, unless your sense of humor is driven by a stream of wacky non sequiturs. Is it scary? No, not at all. How scary is a dancing skeleton? Or a chest of drawers that opens and closes to dance hall music? Is it fantastical? Yes, definitely. Especially if your idea of fantasy is hallucinatory, akin to an acid trip.

I can say one good thing about this film. The production values were good--most of the time.

It's the story of seven young girls who decide to spend a vacation at the mansion of one girl's aunt. They know next to nothing about the aunt or the mansion or the surrounding environs. Consider it one big slumber party.

The girls, like the seven dwarfs, are caricatures of personality traits. There's Prof and Mac (the "fat girl") and Gorgeous, among others. They are a giggly bunch who chatter non-stop likes girls of that age. Do we really care that much what happens to them? No, because the story is presented in such a way that we take nothing seriously.

There is no cohesive unity in this film. How can there be when it changes styles every second? Resembling a cross between a Monkees episode and the worst music video ever, the action is accompanied by every special effect imaginable. Seriously, it looks like the director was checking off a list of in-camera and extra-camera effects, from the Hitchcock effect, to green screen effects, to changes in film speed.

The music, likewise, is chimerical--changing, without reason or purpose, from classical to disco to nursery rhyme styles.

And the director employs every editorial cut he could think of, too. It is very distracting.

The difference between this film and one of Tim Burton's is cohesion. Burton lives in the whimsical and populates his films with quirky characters and imaginative happenings, but his productions are unified by style and music.

Is there any underlying story in the film? Some opinions about that are posted on this site. I tried to find meaning in the film by considering it to be an allegory about the damage done to Japan during WWII by its military and political missions. But I see no other opinions along those lines and, besides, I don't think that theme works throughout the film.

Watching this film, I think most viewers will feel confused or bored. Afterwards, I think they will wonder what the point was.

gbill-74877 1 April 2017

Oh my goodness, what at trippy, crazy, cheesy little movie this is. I don't think it has a single scene in it which doesn't have some type of campy, surreal special effect. Early on it seems like part Wes Anderson, part after-school special, part J-pop, part … I don't know, just 'out there', and certainly unique. It gets weirder and weirder as it goes. If you love the bizarre and the downright silly, movies which don't take themselves too seriously and are out to throw wild images at you, you'll probably love this film. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi has a real flair, and he's not out to make things look super-realistic, he's out to entertain. If you're looking for a ghost story, real drama, or horror, well, this isn't it. You never feel real tension, even as the cute little girls are attacked by mattresses, devoured by a piano, etc etc. For me I suppose I fell more in the latter camp, wishing the film had some balance in creating a film about the supernatural, but you can easily see why it has a bit of a cult attraction to it, and your mileage may vary.

WNYer 26 January 2013

Six teenage girls go to spend a pleasant week at an Aunts remote house. Unknown to them, the Aunt – and the house – have other intentions.

Hallucinogenic horror-comedy from Nobuhiko Obayashi - very much like stepping into a live action Salvador Dali painting with a horror motif. The familiar, simplistic horror plot is just an excuse for an unrelenting assault on the senses as conventional cinematic story telling is shown the door and replaced by every cinematic trick and gimmick imaginable.

Obayashi fills every minute of screen time with weird camera angles, slow motion dreams, fast motion tracks, unconventional sounds, psychedelic animations and colorful backdrops to move things along. It sets a surreal, absurdest tone which pervades every scene.

In fact, each scene is extremely bizarre in its own right - especially as the girls are individually besieged by evil forces. A laughing, decapitated head floats through the air and attacks one of the girls – biting her on the ass, another girl freaks out at dinner as the host secretly watches her with three eyes – the third peering out of her mouth, a gravity defying karate match ensues between the most athletic girl and a demon possessed lamp shade, and in one of the stranger scenes in cinema, a girl playing a piano is literally eaten by the instrument. As her consumed body parts reside within the casing, her floating, disencumbered fingers begin playing a tune on the keyboard - complete with flashing colored lights!

At its core, this is a Carmella-like vampire flick with the old Aunt getting younger each time one of the girls disappears. What sets it apart from similar movies is its whimsical air, nonsensical imagery and unending gimmickry. While some people admire the film's experimental nature, I think more will be turned off rather quickly. I was already annoyed after ten minutes and had a hard time sitting through the whole thing.

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