A few days ago, I came across a clip from Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 horror film Hausu that, for lack of a better term, left me gobsmacked. I’ve seen a lot of weird, outlandish cinematic material over the years, but this clip — which, by the way, is not entirely work-safe — immediately rocketed into the top 10.
Now comes the even stranger (and cooler) part: The Criterion Collection, arguably the world’s greatest supplier of art-house home video, has announced that they’ll be releasing Hausu on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 26.
How to describe Nobuhiko Obayashi’s indescribable 1977 movie House (Hausu)? As a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby-Doo as directed by Mario Bava? Any of the above will do for this hallucinatory head trip about a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky country home and comes face-to-face with evil spirits, a demonic house cat, a bloodthirsty piano, and other ghoulish visions, all realized by Obayashi via a series of mattes, animation, and collage effects. Equal parts absurd and nightmarish, House might have been beamed to Earth from some other planet. Never before available on home video in the United States, it’s one of the most exciting cult discoveries in years.
That, folks, is why I love The Criterion Collection so much. Even with their art-house rep, they’re not afraid to release the occasional genre/cult film. And somehow, I doubt that you can get much more “cult” than Hausu.