Hausu (1977)

Angel (Kimiko Ikegami) and Fanta (Kumiko Ohba) are best friends looking forward to summer vacation. Unfortunately, they'll be spending it apart. Angel is planning on joining her father (Saho Sasazawa) at a seaside resort, while Fanta is joining the rest of their friends to go to a training camp with Mr. Togo (Kiyohiko Ozaki), whom she has a crush on.

Things don't work out as planned. Mr. Togo's sister is pregnant, so the inn they were staying in is closed for the summer. Angel's father comes home from Italy and introduces his new fiance Ryoko Ema (Haruko Wanibuchi). Angry that her father is replacing her mother (who has been dead for seven years), she refuses to go with him and instead writes her Auntie (Yoko Minamida) to see if she and her friends can come stay the summer at her house. Her aunt writes back and agrees. Suddenly Angel also has a new companion in Blanche, a white cat that showed up at her window.

The group goes to the house and is immediately impressed, although strange things begin to happen. Makku (Mieko Sato), the girl who is always eating, disappears when she takes a watermelon out to the well. Fanta is soon attacked by Makku's disembodied head, but none of the other girls believe her at first. That is, until Suito (Masayo Miyako) is killed by a bunch of mattresses and Merodi (Eriko Tanaka) is eaten by the piano.

It turns out the aunt has been dead for a number of years, but her spirit has become fused with that of her house, and she still waits with her cat for her husband who never returned from World War II. In the meantime, she uses the house to consume unmarried girls. Angel herself becomes fused with the house as well, and the remaining girls struggle to survive.

No plot synapsis can really explain this film. It veers wildly from slapstick comedy to reminding one of the surrealistic interludes from many of Ken Russell's films. It is at heart a ghost story, but the way it is filmed throughout, the names of the characters (the English translations all have to do with their personalities) and the pacing feel like it is one long dream. It took me a while to actually figure out if the deaths in the movie were happening or not.

One should approach this movie not expecting a straight horror film, but rather sit back and enjoy the experience of seeing it.

Hausu (1977)
Duration: 88 minutes
Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Kumiko Ohba
Director: Nobuhiko Ohbayashi

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