Directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
A Halloween screening of the psychedelic Japanese cult horror classic, House (Hausu), introduced by writer and theorist Evan Calder Williams.
Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s House (Hausu) is a nightmarish film about a schoolgirl named Gorgeous and six of her classmates who vacation at her aunt’s home in the country. Each of the characters is marked by a special trait—Melody plays music, Mac likes to eat, Kung-fu is a martial arts expert, Sweet is very tidy, Fanta daydreams, and Prof is a skillful logician. One by one, the girls encounter possessed objects that become the instruments of their demise.
An outlandish and visually stunning spectacle that parodies horror film clichés, Ôbayashi collaborated with his daughter to create the deranged script, employing many of the techniques he learned through his background in experimental cinema and as an advertisement producer for television.
A pioneer of Japan’s experimental cinema, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi spent a large portion of his career creating advertisements for television before directing his first feature film. He studied art at Seijo University, where he began working with film and first developed his intensely surreal visual style. Ôbayshi’s films set the tone of Japanese experimental cinema through the 1960s, along with filmmakers Shuji Terayama and Donald Richie. His first feature length film was House (Hausu) in 1977. He continued to make feature films such as Exchange Students (1982) and Chizuko's Younger Sister (1991). His 1988 film, The Discarnates, was entered into the 16th Moscow International Film Festival and his 1998 film, Sada, was entered into the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.
Evan Calder Williams is a writer, theorist, and artist. He is the 2013-2014 Center for Transformative Media Fellow at Parsons The New School and is currently completing his dissertation, The Fog of Class War: Cinema, Circulation, and Refusal in Italy's Creeping '70s, in the Literature Department at University of California Santa Cruz. He is the author of two books, Combined and Uneven Apocalypse and Roman Letters, and he writes for Film Quarterly, La Furia Umana, World Picture, Mute, and The New Inquiry, where his blog Socialism and/or Barbarism resides. His performances have been presented at the Whitney Biennial, New York; Serpentine Gallery, London; Artists Space, New York; and Tramway, Glasgow. He was a 2011-2012 Fulbright Fellow in Italy. His new film and performance, Violent X, will premiere in spring 2014 at Images Festival in Toronto and Issue Project Room in New York.
My language cannot do justice to [House]. You’d have to imagine Pee-wee’s Playhouse with a witch that eats schoolgirls, only amped up by a factor of 100.
—David Edelstein, New York Magazine