Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 23rd, 2018
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1977
Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Writers: Chiho Katsura, Chigumi Ôbayashi
Cast: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Ohba, Ai Matsubara, Mieko Satô, Eriko Tanaka, Masayo Miyako, Kiyohiko Ozaki
BluRay released: February 12th, 2018
Approximate running times: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 / 1.55:1 Aspect Ratio’s / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Eureka Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)
“Distressed by her widowed father’s plans to remarry, Angel sets off with six of her schoolgirl friends in tow for a summer getaway in her aunt’s isolated mansion. But all is not well – in this house of dormant secrets, long-held emotional traumas have terrifyingly physical embodiment’s and the girls will have to use all their individual talents if any are to survive.” – Synopsis provided by the Distributor
House (Hausu) was directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, who’s other notable film’s include, The Aimed School, The Little Girl Who Conquered Time, The Discarnates and Sada. The screenplay for House (Hausu) was co-written by screenwriter Chiho Katsura, whose other notable films include, Assault! Jack the Ripper, She Cat, Sins of Sister Lucia, Zoom Up: The Beaver Book Girl, Zoom In: Sex Apartments and Flower and Snake: Sketch of Hell.
From its opening moments, it becomes immediately clear, that what is about to unfold is unlike anything that has come before or since. The premise for this film is clearly rooted in the realm of fairy tales. With two potential influences on this film being Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Hansel & Gretel.
The premise is well executed and nowhere is more evident, then when it comes to this film’s bizarre set pieces. And though, there are an ample amount of off the wall moments in this film. There is a simplicity to the story at hand, that makes the events that unfold all more the easier to digest.
Without a doubt, this films most overlooked asset is its ability to retain a childlike innocence, that far too many fairy tale themed films are lacking. And reportedly, it was the director’s seven-year-old daughter, who came up with the premise for this film.
The names of the seven girls represent their personalities, Gorgeous, Kung Fu, Fantasy, Professor, Mac, Melody and Sweet. And though, there is a lack of depth due to these stereotype characters. There are a few performances that leave a strong lasting impression. Most notably, Yôko Minamida (Voice Without a Shadow) in the role of Auntie Karei Hausu, a spin stress aunt who has not left her family home, since her beloveded went away too war. Another performance of note is Kimiko Ikegami (Winter’s Flower, The Geisha), who portrays three characters Oshare, Gorgeous and Mother.
From a production standpoint, the score for the film perfectly captures the mood and there is a wide variety of visuals techniques that are very effectively used throughout this film. And though, the special effects have not dated well. The inventiveness of each girls death, more than makes of for this short coming.
House (Hausu) comes on a 50 GB dual layer (39.4 GB) BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in it’s intended 1.37:1 / 1.55:1 aspect ratio’s. This film had been previously released on Blu-ray by Criterion Collection and the transfer used for this release, appears to use the same source. Colors are nicely saturated, details look sharp and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. There are no issues with distortion or background noise, dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced.
Other extras include, archive of interviews with Nobuhiko Obayashi – Beginnings (17 minutes 4 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Nobuhiko Obayashi – Pitch (7 minutes 33 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Chigumi & Nobuhiko Obayashi – Script (15 minutes 25 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Nobuhiko Obayashi – Pre-Release (15 minutes 39 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Shogo Tomiyama – Publicity (3 minutes 34 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Nobuhiko Obayashi – Casting & Production (20 minutes4 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Kumiko Oba – Fantasy (2 minutes 14 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and Nobuhiko Obayashi – Release & Legacy (7 minutes 31 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles).
Rounding out the extras is a forty-four-page booklet with cast & crew credits, an essay titled Unhinged Desire (At Home with Obayashi) written by Paul Roquet and and information about the transfer titled Notes on Viewing. Overall House (Hausu) gets a solid release from Eureka Video that comes with a wealth of insightful extra content, highly recommended.