As I said in the Eraserhead post, I watched a double feature of films made in 1977 by first-time directors that were surreal as all hell and part of the Criterion Collection. How very specific, but that applies to Eraserhead just as much as Hausu, AKA House. Director Mr. Nobuhiko Obayashi had previously worked on commercials, and that comes across in how bizarre and at times episodic the film feels.
Hausu has a story, right? More or less. A group of teenage girls named after their defining characteristic–Gorgeous, Fantasy, Prof, Kung Fu, Melody, Sweet, and Mac (which is apparently short for “stomach,” not “Big Mac”)–spend part of their summer vacation at the remote house of Gorgeous’ aunt. The aunt put her entire life on hold after her fiancée died during WWII, but it’s super obvious early on that she’s some kind of supernatural entity. Sure enough, the girls start dying in completely over the top ways as Gorgeous’ aunt gets healthier and younger. There are a couple side characters who don’t really matter–one who turns into a pile of bananas–and the film ends with the aunt rejuvenated enough that she’s mistaken for Gorgeous.
The film is weird as all hell. Several scenes are filmed as if they were commercials, which tracks with the director’s background. Hell, the main girls weren’t professional actors and instead were models Obayashi had used in commercials! But it’s the quirks that make it stand out. Kung Fu is best girl and has her own musical sting when she saves the day, but she gets her head stuck in a ceiling lamp and electrocutes to death. The other girls have more specialized deaths, like Melody having her fingers eaten by a piano before being torn to shreds. It’s a goofy movie, but one remembered fondly for good reasons.
Now, for a bit of an aside. IMDB trivia isn’t always reliable. It’s user submitted, so nothing has sources to verify the claims. And Hausu has one bold claim in its trivia section: that Obayashi almost directed a Godzilla movie. And the plot was… fucking nuts. After Godzilla dies of diabetes, it’s revealed that the kaiju was actually a pregnant monster named Rozen, who asks humans–via a psychic–to return her unborn son to planet Godzilla. Rozen’s body gets turned into a rocket, and after being reunited with its father, the kaijus would fight–and I’m going to quote this part–“a female monster that shot fire from her breasts.” Absolutely unhinged. I fucking love it. But some things are too good to be true, and this crazy story is clearly one of th–
Hold on, my imaginary assistant is frantically getting my attention. Let me see what that’s about.
…oh. It’s real, and was turned into a short story that was illustrated in part by Katsuhiro Otomo, who would later on go make a little indie comic called Akira. “A Space Godzilla” was even released with the blessing of Toho, the company that holds the rights to Godzilla. And some kind souls even translated it into English! So here’s part 1 and part 2. It’s a trip. Just like Hausu! There, this tangent was justified.
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