Year: 1977 Runtime: 88 min
Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Writer: Chiho Katsura (screenplay), Chigumi Ôbayashi (original story)
Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo and Kumiko Ohba
After the massive success of Jaws, the suits at Toho contacted Nobuhiko Ôbayashi to develop a similar script. What they got was a ketamine fueled wet fart or, in common parlance, a screenplay both twisted and swarming with juvenile poo-poo humor. I cannot imagine the demented fever which destroyed the writer’s fragile grip on reality as he wrote this. Sweet Sweating Christ outside Mary Magdalene’s door! What ungodly torture to endure, even for a moment.
See. The mere mention of it brought me to a frenzy. I have to relax, there is more to tell.
The final product can only be considered a film only in the strictest meaning of the word. That is, it’s a collection of pictures, one after the other, playing at 24 frames per second for 88 minutes. Truth is, Hausu is something you experience, like love or LSD or a colostomy. Each has their allure, but rarely do they make sense. Even in retrospect.
Hausu is the story of a young girl, Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami), and her six friends who visit Gorgeous’ aunt over summer break. Gorgeous and her friends are named for their asset: Gorgeous is beautiful and fashion conscious; Prof is the smart one with glasses and her face in a book; Melody can play any musical instrument; Kung Fu is a master of martial arts; Mac is the fat, hongry one; Sweet is sweet; and finally, Fantasy is the overly imaginative one.
Aunt, who is never named, broods in her mansion on the hill, the titular house. For thirty years she has haunted the place, waiting—love never effectuated. She and her fiancé had made a pinky promise to marry once he returned from WWII. Because he never did the years of solitude twisted Aunt into a malevolent demon.
That ends the logical portion of the film. The rest is a hellish string of things-that-happen in Hunter S. Thompson proportions, if he were a Japanese school girl in a Jaws reinterpretation.
The madness experienced first hand by the girls is usually explained away as “an illusion.” I tend to agree with that assessment. How else would you explain disembodied fingers playing a piano, or a grown man transformed into a pile of bananas or skin falling away to reveal a new body of flame, a la Johnny Storm, or equality for all in the eyes of the law?
Never watch this film before going to bed. Strange and terrible things will stalk your slumber. I will speak of it no more because my blood runs cold remembering my dreams. I ask that you trust me on this.
I do not want to spoil the roller coaster ride, so I will just say this and be done with it: Hausu is the epitome of schizophrenic genius. The absolute best anti-drug propaganda I have ever witnessed. And, just for the record, as diametrically opposed to Jaws any film could be.
Check out the trailer for “Hausu”