This movie is an incredible, bizarre, beautiful trainwreck. It was made by a guy who had previously only directed commercials and is based off a dream his young daughter had. The characters all have bizarre names that sum up the single aspect to their character/personality: Fantasy, Sweet, Professor, Kung-Fu, Oshare (“Fashionable”, translated to “Gorgeous” in the English version), and Mac (which is short for the Japanese romanisation of McDonald’s. Because she’s “fat.” Well done. )
The plot is… well, I’ve seen this movie repeatedly, I own it, and I speak Japanese, and I’m still not entirely certain what happens in this film. A bunch of girls go on vacation together to visit one of the girl’s elderly aunts who has been a shut-in since her husband died leaving her a young widowed bride. It turns out she’s some sort of witch-ish creature? Or… maybe dead? And she eats most of them to regain her youth. Or something. Or not. It’s still hard to say. But I would highly recommend watching whatever the hell this film is. The director does so much “wrong.” Since he had no previous experience in filmmaking, he does experimental strange things with camerawork and editing, and uses lighting and painted backdrops that are straight out of the commercials he’d previously worked on. Couple that with incomprehensible plot, weird dialog, random scenes that make absolutely no sense, gratuitous nudity and violence with copious red tempra paint and colored water, butt biting by a severed head, a white cat, bad bluescreening, shot framing and weird slowdown effects that you would never dream of in your life, just everything, and it ends up thoroughly entertaining though I still don’t know what I’ve watched. It’s available through the Criterion collection. Give it a watch!
The Criterion edition has an interview with the filmmaker and his (now grown) daughter. She said she told all her friends to come see it when it hit the theaters, so even though it got terrible reviews, it had a dedicated audience of tweeners who appreciated its weirdness.
My vet’s office cat is named Shiro. I don’t know if he’s seen the movie or not…
I just recently watched this movie with a friend of mine. As a fan of horror and Asian cinema I was expecting some kind of psychological slow-burn absurdist horror. What I got was an hour and a half of what happens when you mix every drug ever invented and then pour it on film. Very interesting visuals and effects but to be totally honest, I felt kind of uninterested in the film as it really didn’t develop any interesting plot or characters outside of its undiluted insanity.
That’s fair. If you don’t like the insanity for what it is, there won’t be much to go on. But if you can embrace the madness, you’ll have a good time! It’s probably best watched with either a group of friends or a group of bewildered newcomers to the movie.
As a fan of House, I was thrilled to learn that director Nobuhiko Obayashi kept right on making movies until his death a couple of years ago. His style never settled down either, all of the ones that I’ve seen so far have the same kind of crazy-quilt mix of visual styles and tones. His final film, “Labyrinth of Cinema” (which is literally as bewildering and adventurous as its title suggests, definitely not for casual viewing) is up on MUBI right now: https://mubi.com/films/labyrinth-of-cinema/trailer
It was made in the late 1970s, but it looks like it could’ve easily come out of the late 80s or even the early 90s in terms of costuming, settings, and certain backgrounds, lighting, and framing styles that absolutely were common in Japanese commercials and TV for a long time. When you have a film that’s unintentionally able to keep up with the times with simple things like that, it probably makes it much easier for it to have staying power than one that looks more dated. The only things that really were at all visibly of a certain era fashion-wise are a few pairs of pants IIRC.
Also, even though the bluescreening is terrible, to be honest it wasn’t really that different (technology wise and in terms of how the excess blue appeared) from a lot of stuff that was being done into the late 80’s on TV and in lower budget films (or in the case of Krull, even big budget films). And since most of the other effects–however cheesy-- were practical effects, the experience of watching the film would’ve probably been similar across time too, which may’ve made it age better than a lot of other horror.
Add all of that together with something you can get together and watch and laugh at with your friends? Seems like a good bet, however weird it is!
I watch this movie every October as part of my commemoration of the GRISLY MONTH OF HORROR. It’s the weirdest “vampire” movie I’ve ever seen, and I love how all the special effects had to be done on the set or in the camera.
I unironically love House. I think that may be because it reminds me of a lot of the wackier elements of Evil Dead 2 (one of my all-time favorite movies) just cranked up to 11. It’s one of those movies where you can tell the ambition far exceeded the budget and technical limitations, but dammit, Obayashi-san did his best and it’s glorious and beautiful and weird and crazy and a joy to watch, especially with friends. Especially especially if you’ve had a few drinks.