Excessive, Insane, and Amazing

Cult movies should be mistakes, not intentional. There's no indication that Nobuhiko Obayashi meant for his 1977 feature debut Houseto appear — three decades later, to non-Japanese viewers — completely insane. But it is: batshit, Technicolor, fairy-tale-meets-softcore-porn insane. Seven teenage schoolgirls visit the creepy old mansion inhabited by the spinster aunt of heroine Gorgeous (all the girls are similarly type-named); there, they begin to disappear Ten Little Indians–style. But who's killing whom, and why, are the least interesting questions about this effects-saturated dreamscape. Gorgeous is in love with her dashing father and despises his evil fiancee (whose hair and dress are permanently aflutter from a wind machine). Her schoolmates have a crush on their teacher, and her aunt is still pining for a soldier who died in World War II. All that thwarted love leads to flying heads, flashbacks, severed limbs, a ravenous piano, a demonic cat, and a tidal wave of blood. Obayashi crams every scene of House with giddy, gaudy visual excess; it's like Douglas Sirk on acid.
Thu., June 9, 2011

 
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