You might not be familiar with the term 'Z-Movie,' but if you grew up in the 90's, chances are you've seen one. They're the beyond-low-budget monstrosities that teased you from the walls of the mom-and-pop video store. Usually, the films themselves could never live up to the pictures on the videotape boxes (because this was way before your fancy 'Digital Video Discs' and 'Blu-Rays') but occasionally you'd find something truly unique. 'WEIRDO FLICKS' will clue you into some movies which 'unique' doesn't even begin to describe...
'House' (aka 'Hausu') - 1977, Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
This one is a bit different than the past few films I wrote about...for one thing, it had a bigger budget. It was also created by a relatively well-known Japanese commercial director. That's where the dissimilarities end, however, as this is one of the most bonkers things you'll ever see.
Supposedly created to bank on the success of 'Jaws,' a film company hired Obayashi to create a similar film for Japanese audience. The director, most known in Japan for his bombastic work in television commercials, did the logical thing and got his daughter to help him write a script. This makes sense when you consider how the film jumps from blood-and-gore to bodily humor to Saturday morning cartoon in rapid-fire succession. Basically, it's not anything like 'Jaws.'
Once it gets going, the '77 release date is pretty amazing...Obayashi uses relatively-new computerized effects creatively, and the world of the film sits solidly outside any era. Plus, this thing is COLORFUL, in the way that only a 70's Japanese TV ad can be.
Oh yeah, the story...to avoid spending time with her dad's new girlfriend, a young girl stubbornly goes to visit her aunt instead. She also brings along her friends, uninvited, but it doesn't seem to matter. Unfortunately, her aunt is long-dead and really just wants to eat her and her friends. Or maybe her aunt's cat is the one pulling the strings.
It should be mentioned that the young girls all have ridiculous names, and each have their own 'special power,' like some twisted kids' cartoon. Actually, this could pass for a kids' movie if it wasn't for all the decapitations, blood splattering, and dirty jokes. Yeah, besides those things, it's pretty tame.
The film was supposedly a big hit in Japan when it came out (but received lots of negative reviews from critics, making it like a Japanese version of....'The Mummy' films..?) but didn't start getting fans in America until recent years.
Because of that, however, you can easily see it. So see it, already.
VHS photo by Toby Hudson.