Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) is a princess of a young high school student. She has a gaggle of friends: Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo), Sweetie (Masayo Miyako), Fantasy (Kumiko Ohba), Prof (Ai Matsubara), Melody (Eriko Tanaka), and Mac (Mieko Satoh). As you might guess from the names, Gorgeous is the most beautiful and glamorous of the group, and the de facto leader; Kung Fu does kung-fu; Sweetie has a sweet disposition and loves to clean; Fantasy is a dreamer; Prof is the smart one; Melody is an excellent piano player; and Mac, well, Mac likes to eat. They all go to school together, and several have a crush on their teacher, Togo (Kiyohiko Ozaki). Gorgeous is looking forward to spending the summer with her father (novelist Saho Sasazawa), who has been away for a long time in Italy composing scores to films. When he returns with a beautiful new girlfriend (Haruko Wanibuchi), Gorgeous is angry, and decides to go to her Auntie’s house instead. Auntie (Yoko Minamida) was once engaged to a pilot, but he died during the war, and now lives alone. Gorgeous gets her friends to come along with her, with Togo joining later. Unfortunately for everyone, Auntie is actually dead, and her house is haunted. The girls begin to disappear one by one, and only Fantasy, who no one takes seriously, sees what is happening. Can the girls survive the madness of the House?
House is a very, very odd film. It was director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s (director of the infamous Mandom commercials featuring Charles Bronson) first feature film, and it plays like a cross between Evil Dead 2, educational TV, and the commercial work the director just left. The characters are bare archetypes, and the film does not even attempt realism or conventional scares, instead going for surreal juxtapositions of styles, including comic books, black and white flashbacks, and more. We get crazy, evil Persian cats, the most goofy looking skeleton of all time, cheerful cannibalism and death by piano, and a man turned into a pile of bananas. In many ways the film predicts the over the top dream kills of Freddy Kreuger (although one could argue either are a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the murders in films like Theatre of Blood and The Abominable Dr. PhibesP) but with those films latex meanness replaced with The Muppet Show‘s sense of gruesome fun. There is no way to recommend this as a “good” movie, in any conventional sense, but as a sort of drug free acid trip and a chance to be able to say that, yes, now you really have seen everything, it simply can’t be beat. A must see for all cult film fans.
Obayashi’s previous commercial work: