Saturday, 1 May 2010



Nothing to do with the Hugh Laurie medical series, and nothing to do with the mid-80s haunted house movie franchise, this strange, wildly over-the-top Japanese horror movie dates from 1977 but has only just surfaced on UK DVD very recently. And I think it's fair to say that it's probably the most deranged, retina-searing, full throttle batshit movies you're going to see in quite a while.

As far as the plot of House (Hausu) is concerned it's very generic stuff: a bunch of schoolgirls decide to spend their summer holiday at the home of one of their number's aunt, miles from everywhere. Gradually someone or something offs them all in sadistic and graphic - but in this case highly unusual - fashion. Is it witchcraft? Is it demons? Ghosts? The old lady's spooky cat which has flashing green eyes? One girl is eaten by a piano, another attacked by futons, there's a severed head in the well and a dancing skeleton. That it all comes to some kind of vaguely coherent conclusion is no thanks to the insane, overstylised visuals that make Evil Dead 2 look like The Remains Of The Day.

There are, in the horror sequences, more crash zooms per minute than the zoom-happy Jess Franco manages in a decade, and some of the dodgiest chromakey outside the Dr Who effects unit of the period; and several moments will have you grasping for the Nurofens to mitigate the flashing colours, superimposion effects, the constant inappropriate musical accompaniment and the general ambience of unhinged hysteria. I have to be honest and say I didn't really enjoy it, but it is certainly lively and you can't fault it for trying. It's all too much, though, and I suspect some kind of drugs may be required.


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