14 October 2022

52 for '22: House

MovieHouse (1977)
Method: HBOMax

Why Did I watch this?

I haven't a clue about how this got on my radar. I added it to my Netflix Queue on 11/16/21, so almost a year ago. I saw it was on HBOMax instead, so I pulled that trigger for spooky season!

What Did I know ahead of time?
I knew it was a 70s Japanese haunted house movie. It turns out you can do quite a bit with that premise. Obvi it's going to get weird but I was extremely ill prepared for just how weird.

How Was It?

This is the weirdest movie ever made. Saying it right here, right now. The first thirty minutes are a flighty teen comedy, which doesn't really lead up, even when the horror elements eventually kick in.

The basic premise is that in order to not live with her father and new step-mother over the summer, a girl decides to live with her aunt instead. And bring six of her friends! But the aunt's a ghost and tries to use her house to eat them.

On that superficial level the plot and genre shift at will. Eventually the main protagonist becomes the main antagonist and all the one-note side characters are put in charge of the movie. It's fun to watch.

It's not bad but there are continuous baffling decisions. Clear oedipus stuff, cuts in the middle of scenes that then fade to the same scene, all sorts of wipes and scene transitions, and an aggressive array of horrendous green screen effects, sometimes just animation laid over what's happening on screen. There is no camera discipline, with zooms and pans and a chaotic maniacal drive that just places this wherever it pleases. Sets are purposely artificial and there's a heavy surrealty to everything.

But it kind of works? It owns its chaos. Characters have names like Mac, Sweet, Fantasy, Prof, and Kung Fu. There is this descent into horror based on an exploration of national trauma. It's never boring and the pace is furious. And are the main girls lesbians? It sure seems like. I think one dude was turned into a pile of bananas.

It's a movie that just doesn't follow any rules of any kind. It's hard to say if it makes it a "good" movie or not. Usually I like using conventions to break down why movies do or do not work. But this is a great example of how that sort of criticism doesn't actually have merit. Because following convention isn't what makes a movie good. It's based almost entirely on feel and vibe, and this sucker vibes, even if on every other level it borders sheer incomprehensibility.

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