“If I must just choose the method of my demise, I choose…
Death By Cinema!” -Britt Rhuart
Day 24 – House
What can I say about House? Well, I don’t know much about it, but my personal history with this film begins when I was hosting a pop culture talk show, A Night at the Opera, with my friends Salim Garami and Erickh Norman. We were doing our top 100 favorite films countdown. Salim happened to mention the film House. Now, I did not study film much as an undergrad from an academic perspective, so I admittedly have some big gaps in my knowledge, though I am trying to learn. Plus I have my own wheelhouse when it comes to film studies, so I’m solid. But when Salim mentioned House, I thought he meant the early 80s film starring William Katt. This confused me because that film, apart from a nice supporting role played by George Wendt, is a very forgettable, middle of the road movie. So, Salim and Erickh proceed to tell me about this movie and… it just sounded nuts. Cool, but balls out crazy. Good, I like those kind of films and, after a couple years, I’m finally seeing it. So, how crazy is it?
Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:
I had no clue this was a Janus Film… and in conjunction with Toho?!? Kick ass!
The credit’s proclaim it “A Movie… HOUSE!” With an announcer saying the name.
We have a weird box in box visual effect to being the action of the film. I don’t get it.
Man, this film’s got some bizarre matte shot effects.
The music is also weird. And so is the editing. We’re 3 1/2 minutes in and I have no clue what’s going on with the visual style of this film… but I kinda like. It’s unique. But I have a feeling I’ll only be able comment on the big stuff when it comes to this, otherwise I’ll be pausing every 15 seconds.
Actual quote: Gorgeous’ Father: “Leone said my music was better than Morricone’s.” Boo! Not possible!
I love this shot through the window to the terrace. The fact that there are so many panes make a very fractured look. Same thing with the camera moving from side to side.
So, basically, the plot begins with a high school girl, Gorgeous, objecting to her father’s marriage. So, instead of going on vacation with them, she asks to stay at her aunt’s House. She takes her six friends the nerdy Prof, foodie Mac, Melody, Fantasy, Kung Fu, and Sweet.
I just realized, this music sounds like it should be featured in an anime where a girl travels to a mystical fairy land and is about to kiss the main boy, but gets interrupted. Oh, well. It’s get a pretty sunset.
Now we have aa weird American pop song that sounds like it would be best suited for a Scooby Doo chase scene. Seriously, so much of the action looks like it belongs in an anime. And sure enough part of the scene is animated!
We keep seeing a cat reappear. It’s almost like they’re foreshadowing something.
God, how am I supposed to comment on anything when I need to comment of everything?!?
There’s a really cheesy special effect of the past Aunt grasping a rose and an animated stream of blood coming from her hand. As I understand, this is only the beginning of cheesy effects.
This film is very enjoyable so far, but my God, this is a gauntlet. It’s an assault on the senses. And I’m only 20 minutes into the film. They aren’t even at the house yet!
They go to buy a watermelon and meet a merchant who reminds me of an Asian Oliver Hardy with no mustache and WAY creepier. Also, that is a big ass watermelon.
The most fake bird I’ve seen this side of Birdemic just swung by.
Why does this same white cat keep showing up? Now it’s eyes glow green causing a camera to fly out of one of the girls’ hands?
Mac went back to buy the watermelon, which she cradles like an infant. Seriously, they are getting a lot of traction out of the “Mac is fat” joke.
Some crystals fall from the chandelier and freakin’ Kung Fu reacts like this is a goddamn episode of Sailor Moon!
Actual line: “Well done! You’re so cool, Kung Fu.” This girl says it as her hat falls comically back on her head.
Ok, here we go with the haunted insanity. Fantasy pulls the watermelon up from the well, but that’s no watermelon… THAT’S MAC’S SEVERED HEAD! It talks to her, then flies around, bites her ass, and vomits blood. All of this happens in front of an obvious blue screen.
Actual dialogue: “A human head!” “Everyone has one!”
The aunt stands from her wheelchair for the first time. I’m guessing the evil house is giving her energy.
The aunt eats the watermelon, opens her mouth and winks at Fantasy, an eyeball in her mouth.
It’s weird that no one besides Fantasy has noticed Mac is gone.
Oh, good, a creepy doll. No way that won’t be a horrible plot device used for death.
Kung Fu is being attacked by a bunch of flying pieces of wood. Dude, I dig her. She’s just the right enough of anime martial arts master that I like.
Fantasy sees the aunt go into the fridge, which causes her friends to continue to think she’s crazy, while the aunt breaks the fourth wall, dances with a skeleton, and eats a human hand. She also feeds it to a goldfish and her cat meows in time to the music, flopping around the piano. What is happening?!?
Gorgeous puts on lipstick, until she sees her reflection has vampire teeth. Then the cat’s eyes make the mirror shatter, which causes her face to shatter, replaced by flames. I swear no acid caused me to write that last sentence.
Now the cat’s eyes are making the piano keys light up in red, white, and blue. ‘MURICA.
Sweet is attacked by killer pillows and mattresses. Dude, are you kidding me? That would be the best poltergeist ever!
Why is no one listening to Fantasy? Weird stuff is going on, but oh, let’s not listen to Fantasy who’s seen some of this spooky shit happening.
Fantasy continues to be worried. But fear not, “Your love, Mr. Togo, is coming soon. He’s a man after all. He can help us.” Uh, ladies, you don’t need a man to save or define you. All you need is Kung Fu. Also, Togo comes riding in on a white horse in a quick fantasy that looks like the opening to Princess Kenny.
I don’t know why in this scene it looks like the removed every 5th frame, but it does.
Finally, we have some classic haunted house stuff to scare the girls, like windows rattling and doors slamming and the fog rolls in.
I like the camera movement, following the girls as they walk in a circle, thinking over their conundrum.
They find a hand (probably the one the aunt was chomping at), and notice that Mac’s ribbon is on it. Oh, no! Their friend is dead! Let’s just go downstairs and listen to Melody play piano. That’ll solve everything!
So far, we have Sweet killed by pillows, Mac decapitated, Gorgeous is missing (only to be found dressed in Japanese bridal attire), and now Melody is attacked by the piano. Rather, the cat’s eyes flash again, cheesy lights engulf her fingers and her fingers get cut off as she’s surrounded by a blue aura. It’s cool, shellacks stoked that her fingers are gone until the goddamn piano eats her as he body parts flail around inside the piano! Jesus Christ! Anyone remember that level in Super Mario 64? The ghost level? Like the piano in that. Oh, also lots of bad blue screen.
The music we hear while Gorgeous is dressed bridal attire sounds like something from a level of The Legend of Zelda.
Ok, now Sweet is stuck in the bleeding clock in the wall as Kung Fu and Prof look on.
Melody’s disembodied fingers still play the piano, striking an off note. The effect is really corny, with the fingers basically hanging from wires.
So, now the only ones still alive and in their right minds are Kung Fu, Prof, and Fantasy, somehow.
A guy randomly appears eating a plate of ramen noodles while he has a giant teddy bear in the background dressed as a Japanese chef.
Various things begin flying around the room including some disembodied lips. Because, why the hell not at this point?
The lips tell why everything is happening. Basically, the aunt died waiting for her love to return from the war. Now she inhabits the house, eating girls, because that’s the only time she can wear her bridal gown.
A lot of quick cuts including Prof reading, Kung Fu kicking the ass of the things flying around, Fantasy being useless, and SON OF A BITCH, the cat becomes a damn monster!
Kung Fu escapes the house to fight the ghost of the aunt, as Togo drives around trying to find the house.
They keep quick cutting to the image of the cat and good lord is it creepy.
Kung Fu is then hit with an overhead lamp and is electrocuted as we see the evil smiling cat, the disembodied body parts of the dead girls float around, but all of a sudden Kung Fu’s disembodied legs, come out and destroy the cat painting, there by the cat, thereby the aunt (who bleeds buckets), and thereby the house… maybe? The cat painting then vomits blood as Prof and Fantasy are left floating on a river of cat blood.
Togo’s still driving around the countryside in his dune buggy looking for the house. He runs across the Oliver Hardy watermelon salesman. The watermelon guy says the girls were eaten and they were delicious. We then get them both trying to overact each other.
Actual dialogue: Watermelon: “Do you like watermelons?” Togo: “NOOOOO!” Watermelon: “What then?” Togo: “Bananas!”
The watermelon salesman then turns into a skeleton as Togo jumps back into the dune buggy shouting Banana over and over again.
Back on the river of cat blood, Prof loses her glasses and is eaten by an earn with teeth. She then swims in the blood naked going “Woo” as women are want to do, I assume.
The aunt then continues to pet the cat, Blanche, as Fantasy continues to roll along the river of blood. A topless Gorgeous then reappears to save Fantasy, maybe… but no it’s the Aunt. But Fantasy chooses to embrace Fantasy and see her as Gorgeous as her eyes glow.
Later on, the stepmother comes to the watermelon stand, posing in slow mo. She then blue screen walks around the house and the landscape. Gorgeous, in the aunt’s kimono, invites the stepmother into the House.
Last cool lines: Stepmother: “Where are your friends? Still sleeping?” Gorgeous: “Yes, but they’ll wake up when they’re hungry. They wake up when they’re hungry.” Her eyes then glow as Blanche the cat runs by and the stepmother’s head catches on fire. We do hear one more little monologue from the aunt, but I like this ending more.
Okay, well that was batshit insane. Seriously, where do I start? There’s not really one aspect of this film I am confident about coming from a sane person. The technical aspects were all over the place. The cinematography was wild. The editing was choppy and almost seizure inducing in its rapidity. Every aspect of the mies-en-scene from the acting to the sets to the lighting were crazy. The special effects were laughable. The writing made not one goddamn bit of sense.
And yet… this movie was awesome! Seriously, the insanity works for this film in every frame. My big thing is, you can make a bad film, just don’t make it boring. This film is absolutely not boring and it’s not bad either. The choices for all those elements were deliberate and made for some amazing art choices. Seriously, I think this was such a good time, if way too much sensory overload. This film is an all out assault you won’t want to stop. Good times.
Tomorrow, I’ll be watching another crazy film… House II: The Second Story! Oh, but this one isn’t a sequel to this House, it’s a sequel to the American one. And it is so random and fun. Good times ahead!