© @craigwardscott

The Hausu Day Thread (August 5, 2021)

Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi (1938-2020) made his first feature film when he was almost thirty, but had already spent a life obsessed with the techniques of film making. He said it began when he played with his family’s projector at the age of three. He studied at Seijo University and worked on experiential films before going to to pursue a successful career as a television commercial director.

The plot of 1977’s Hausu (House) is extremely simple: a group of melodramatic teenage girls set off to stay in the haunted house of one of their aunts for the summer. What follows however is a series of bizarre, hallucinatory scenes of possessed refrigerators, carnivorous pianos and murderous mattresses all mashed together by Obayashi using the techniques he had experimented with in university: collage, matte effects, pixilation.

If the film has the feel of a child’s dream it’s probably because when Toho asked Obayashi to make a film that could replicate the success of Jaws, he persuaded the famous production company to listen to everything his eleven year old daughter Chigumi said.

The soundtrack was completed two years before the film, as the production dragged on. He wanted to share the opportunity with his colleagues in the independent film world so he asked the composer who worked on his commercials to score the film. However he said he was too old! He only created one song that features in the film.

Obayashi remained a prolific director, making films right up until the final year of his life. After his passing Josh Siegel, a film curator at the Museum of Modern Art, told the New York Times that “[he] unnerved audiences through a strange and uncanny admixture of absurdist humor, sexual innuendo, violence and melancholy.”

If you want to read more about Hausu why no check out articles from our very own site: WTF Asia 80 and Month of Horror Day 5! I heartily recommend you take the time to watch this bizarre, wonderful film. Have an awesome day and take care of yourselves, everyone!