Hausu is the only movie I have watched four times and it still hasn’t lost its magic. A short 90-odd minute, masterfully paced, trip just crammed with absurdist humor and an even more absurd storyline.

This 1977 cult classic is a very visual film. The first thing that pops out in terms of the movie’s visual identity is the editing – the only readily describable characteristic of it is that it gives throwbacks to old commercials which makes sense because I read somewhere that the director, Nobuhiko Obayashi (or was it the editor Nobuo?), used to make TV commercials. The editing screws with you – the transitioning shots are trippy, the timing stutters, and the manga-like paneling of shots here and there are treats.

The color grading/lighting, for the most part, give a shimmery, other-worldly look to it. Another aspect of the visuals that pop is the special effects that look “bad”, like Birdemic levels of bad, but upon rewatches it became more apparent that their implementation is intentional, as to create this freakish alien world and also simultaneously mess with the viewer. Hausu rejects visual cohesion and embraces the freak that it wants to be.

Also, did you know that Hausu is the progenitor of cat videos?

Technically, Hausu is a well-shot movie, the angles get crazy (*gets flashbacks to the glass floor bedsheet beatdown*) but there are no insane, expensive block-buster level camera movements. The shot compositions are very deliberate which, again, tells me the movie is constructed in that freakish way intentionally. The sound design of the film isn’t as mind-bending but the main theme of the movie is catchy, I love how its color in the instrumentation gets more and more stripped back throughout the film’s runtime.

Hausu’s poster is one of my favorites.

Technical aspects aside, the core narrative of Hausu is a straightforward yet somber one. Gorgeous (Oshare), a highschooler wants to reconnect with her late mother through her aunt after her father starts to date another woman, so she takes her friends for a visit to her aunt’s HAUSU. I think you can guess what ensues from there but turn the weirdness up unscalable times – then you’ll get a feel for it. I don’t want to spoil (but I will to some extent) as to what heights of ambition the absurd imagination of Hausu’s scriptwriters push the “scary” scenes. I read somewhere that the director’s daughter came up with some ideas for the horror scenes too – maybe she inspired the quote “it’s like cotton candy!” referencing a certain horrific event – it’s just peak dark comedy.

The cast of characters, other than Gorgeous and the Aunt, share simplistic writing but their interactions never fall short of entertaining . My favorite character is Kung-fu. She’s bad-ass, she got some legs on her  – you’ll know what I mean near the end of the film. Also, Miki Jinbo is pretty as hell in this.

On to one of my favorite scenes – Melody’s piano scene gave birth to one of my favorite lines in all of cinema – “Oh my! That’s naughty.” 

I know you are probably confused, so am I… still. I don’t know why I find it so funny every single time. It might be the context, it might be the whacked out visuals, it might be the intonation of Melody’s voice, might be her smile – maybe it’s everything.

I don’t think any review of Hausu justifies or even describes how amazing it is – you have to watch it and find out. There are still so many details that unraveled before me throughout my rewatches and I think it still will in future rewatches.

I wish I could take the time to do a detailed analysis like my last Revisiting Favorites post (two years ago) but I wanted to come back to my blog for a short post, and besides, what’s a better occasion to recommend this other than Halloween?

Hausu is a Halloween essential. No, it’s a life essential – watch it before you die.