HOUSE (HAUSU) Blu-ray Review [Oh, Japan!]


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Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977
Written by Chiho Katsura


Reputations are an interesting thing on their own, but they can be exceptionally curious when it comes to the horror genre.  If anything garners a reputation within our walls, it’s likely because it is either A) notoriously bad or B) notoriously shocking.  So once a fan catches wind of a reputation, it’s practically impossible to not hold the film up to the exaggerated fancies and standards that have heard about.  In the case of HAUSU, the reputation isn’t one of being bad or shocking, it’s just known as being a notoriously weird Japanese film.

Well, now that the Criterion Collection have released the film on Blu-ray and DVD in the US, I’ve finally had a chance (and an excuse) to see what the hubbub is all about.  Annnnd…….

Yeah.  It’s got a reputation for a reason: HAUSU is pretty damned bizarre.  However, I don’t think it’s the nonsensical oddity that many make it out to be.  It’s got a lot of interesting artistic merit and clear intent to it (after all, Criterion put their stamp of approval on it by delivering this pristine presentation of the movie), but, yes, it’s certainly one of the weirder, if not weirdest, Japanese genre exports around.

April 2009 Horror DVD and Blu-ray List.


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April 7th

I was hoping this new release of DOG SOLDIERS would make me finally own a Neil Marshal film as I’m a sucker for ‘Steelbook Packaging’, but I’ll hold out for the Blu-ray in May.  Also coming from England is Magnet Releasing’s DVD drop of DONKEY PUNCH.  Despite getting a lot of coverage on genre sites, including yet another mention right this second, DONKEY PUNCH is not a horror movie by any stretch.  It may even be a farther stretch to say it is a good movie.  It stretches thin before long, but, hey, how can you not talk about a movie about conflict on a yacht after a girl is accidentally killed by the titular sex act?

My most anticipated title of the week is VINYAN from THE ORDEAL (review) director Fabrice Du Welz.  VINYAN received mixed reviews across outlets, but that’s not enough to hold me back from it.  THE ORDEAL was, understandably, a divisive film itself, though hopefully I’ll once again land in Du Welz’s corner.

Rounding out the month are several straight-to-DVD titles I know nothing of: DISTURBED, HOUSE, BLED, DARK SECRETS, and THE DEATH FACTORY BLOODLETTING (Holy Trying Title, Batman!).

Only Blu this week is FINAL DESTINATION.  Considering my original DVD of the franchise starter went AWOL years ago, I may just pick this up.


April 14th

Ah, a spacer week.  SPLINTER (review) could have been a magnificent Indie, instead I find it a frustrating watch.  It has great energy and a nice hook, but it has fallen victim to the unfortunate mindset that shaky cam is scary – and SPLINTER takes shaky cam to whole new levels at nearly every moment that it should be rock steady.  Enough people love the flick, though, that you may want to consider it a rental.  It is also the only horror title this week out on Blu.

A trio of late ’80s flicks gang together this week under the banner of ‘The Lost Collection'; MY BEST FRIEND’S A VAMPIRE, REPOSSESSED, SLAUGHTER HIGH.  Also out is SUMMER SCHOOL, which is not a remake of the 1987 flick starring cinema’s greatest Leatherface fans which I taped off HBO as a kid and watched obsessively and that would have fit in perfectly with this Lost Collection business.

Ending out the week is THE TELLING, which stars a bunch of Playboy models and will be exactly what you expect: nice cleavage, terrible acting.


April 21st

LAID TO REST scored the Fangoria cover recently, which is either a quality endorsement or a sign that Fango had nothing better in the publicity stills department.  Whatever the case, it’s one of the more interesting titles of the month.  Hopefully buzz proves true and LAID TO REST is more than a low-budget slasher.

The most interesting title of April, however, is J. T. Petty’s THE BURROWERS.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about this period piece horror most easily reduced to TREMORS as a Western.  Nevermind that TREMORS 4 was, well, TREMORS as a Western.  I’ll be putting in my pre-order once I finish this list.

Filling out the straight-to-DVDs of the week is SAM’S LAKE followed by the 70’s flick I DISMEMBER MAMA, neither of which I know anything about.  I have, however, seen GHOST TRAIN.  Not this R1 US release, mind you, but the original Japanese film is nothing special.

Filling out the catalog reissues is a sweet looking HELLRAISER box set.  I wish the whole package was available on Blu, but it looks like only the first will be.  Also on Blu-ray is THE ARRIVAL, a strictly mediocre movie that I loved as a kid.  May pick it up out of pure nostalgia.

Oh, and for the BSG fans out there willing to give it a shot, the pilot for CAPRICA is out on DVD this week as well.  I was a huge BSG fan (still am even after the lackluster finale), but I’m rather indifferent to the prospect of this new series.  Thanks to a generous friend, though, I actually have this DVD sitting on my desk right now.  I might give it a watch this week and report back if people are interested.  The series itself won’t even air until next year, I believe, so there isn’t exactly a rush to get through it.


April 28th

Huh, just noticed it took four weeks for us to get the only major studio horror title of April; the DVD and BRD release of THE UNINVITED.  I missed this in theaters.  Well, missed it in so much as I never bothered to see it.  I’ll review it on Blu, though.  The original TALE OF TWO SISTERS was, despite being a logic mess, was incredibly effective.  Unfortunately we all know how the studio system works.

It is this very system that helps forecast why S. DARKO won’t be anything to get worked up over.  Someone has to make money off of DONNIE DARKO, though, and this is the result.  To be honest I don’t even know if this is a sequel or a prequel and I don’t care enough to look it up. As Goss points out, S. DARKO was bumped to May.

Plenty has been said of MARTYRS so I merely point you once again to my review.

Unknown quantities of the week: THE SHE-BEAST, THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS, PSYCHOS IN LOVE, ONE EYED MONSTER (Uh, Ron Jeremy and Amber Benson?).  Rounding out the month is WHILE SHE WAS OUT, a solid dame-in-distress flick definitely worth checking out from the library.

Oh, and JCVD comes out as well.  Obviously not horror, but I feel like if you’re the kind of person who reads this site, so you’ve probably heard tale of JVCD elsewhere.  I wish it had a more vibrant color palette, but that may be my biggest complaint.  Definitely worth a looksee, would make a terrific double bill with THE WRESTLER (out April 21).

JCVD and THE UNINVITED are also the only two genre friendly Blu-rays of the week.


Netflixing The Month:

  1. THE BURROWERS
  2. VINYAN
  3. LAID TO REST
  4. SLAUGHTER HIGH
  5. THE UNINVITED
  6. WHILE SHE WAS OUT
  7. MARTYRS
  8. SPLINTER



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