“Hausu” from 1977: The Funniest Haunted House Movie


Photo: ‘Hausu’

A decapitated head in a wishing well, a piano that eats its player and a dancing skeleton. While this might sound like a list of random spooky story ideas, these are all scenes from “Hausu,” the 1977 Japanese film by Nobuhiko Obayashi. “Hausu” may have been criticized when it was first released, but it has since become a cult classic, especially among the community of moviegoers. Interestingly enough, the horror movie is not admired for being scary but rather is admired for being fun and original thanks to its trippy visuals and quirky humor. “Hausu” gives you the impression of tripping over a Halloween party in the best possible way.

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The visual wonder of “Hausu”

The visual wonder of “Hausu” comes from how the film eschews realism in favor of eerie imagery and surrealism. The film’s visual approach is based more on a breeze than a desire to appear realistic. Obayashi does all the stuff in the books for film visual effects, from mixed animation and live action to quick editing to anything. While this visual style may seem confusing at first, it quickly immerses audiences in a viewing experience like no other. In a world where each horror movie tries to be more realistic than the last, “Hausu” is a refreshing change of pace, favoring a childish fantasy over the boring reality we live in.

“Hausu” isn’t one of those “so bad is it good” movies because its look is entirely intentional, it doesn’t look like that due to lack of budget like other cult classics such as ” Troll 2 ”. He looks more like a child Halloween themed pop-up book due to movie inspiration. During the filming, Obayashi regularly spoke to his preteen daughter about the creepy ideas she thought had to be in the movie. Regarding this, Obayashi said, “adults only think about things they understand… everything stays on this boring human level” while “children can come up with things that cannot be explained”. Having his daughter’s ideas for the film, Obayashi was able to come up with some of his more surreal scenes, such as a haunted piano and the reflection of a mirror attacking the viewer.

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The visual style of “Hausu” cannot be explained with rational thought, because children can come up with things that cannot be explained like an adult can. This inexplicable style with little to no logic also adds to the horror of the film. The film, with its vibrant colors and confusing editing, is unlike our reality. The film, unlike our version of reality, takes viewers on an immersive journey into the unknown.

A journey into the twisted imagination of a child. The unpredictable quality of the film adds to the horror as audiences never quite know what to expect. There isn’t a moment in the movie that will make you roll your eyes and say “sure, I saw that coming a mile and a half away.” Quite the contrary, there are some weird visuals and moments in the movie that will make audiences wonder how the hell it even happened, like a man turning into a bunch of bananas. The visual wonder of “Hausu” will keep audiences glued to the screen while making them never expect what will happen next.

A parody of Hollywood horror films

‘Hausu’ acts as a parody of the big budget hollywood horror movies which preceded it. Just look at the names of the main girl group in the movie: Melody (Eriko Tanaka), a girl who loves to sing, Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo) the hardest of the group, and Prof (Ai Matsubara), the smartest of the group. The characters are parodies of different character tropes commonly seen in haunted house type movies. It’s like every girl in the main group has a personality trait and a personality trait is also her whole character, like in Hollywood movies. The characters are also parodies of children’s characters, especially schoolgirl characters, where each member of the group takes on a certain role. This adds to the country character of the film, where the characters revel in their tropes, creating a lot of humor in the film.

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The surreal style of the story also acts as a parody of horror movies. “Hausu” takes the tropes that are associated with haunted house movies and pushes them to the trippy extreme. Most haunted house movies play with the idea that the house kills its guests, but “Hausu” takes this a step further by literally having its guests eat by the house, from the piano biting someone’s fingers to a decapitated head. biting someone’s butt. The haunted house movies also all have a creepy old woman who owns the house.

Hausu’s Scary Old Woman Is Aunt (Yōko Minamida), who has a great time in the movie. Instead of being old and shrewd, aunt reveled in the scary, eat eyeballs and dance with skeletons. Auntie, like the movie itself, has a playful energy unlike the “creepy old woman” trope. Aunt acts as a parody of the ‘creepy old woman’ trope by putting the trope on her head, acting differently from the creepy old women who came before her while still being creepy. It’s like the movie takes what we’d expect from a regular haunted house movie and gives us the exact opposite, a fun mirror look at the tropes we’ve grown used to.

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“Hausu” is the funniest haunted house movie ever made thanks to its trippy visuals and playful nature. It pays homage to the typical haunted house history while overturning its tropes and visual style. With its vivid colors, its hybrid of different visual effects and its fast editing, “Hausu” is a film from which one cannot look away. This will keep you glued to the screen and ask you both what’s going to happen next and how we even got here in the first place. Hausu is a cheerful and playful take on the demented, a fun and engaging experience that any horror fan will love. Although “Hausu” is an extremely revisable film, no one will forget the first time he watched this mind-blowing pleasure.

“Hausu” is available to stream on the Criterion channel.

By Brianna Benozich

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