House - not to be confused with the less awesome American House (1986) or the House TV show (which I hear is good) - is easily one of the trippiest horror movies of all time. Before its limited release in American theaters last year, the movie, also known as Hausu, had never been released stateside. In fact, it was only released on DVD and Blu-ray as of October 26th, 2010, via the Criterion Collection. The best summation of the film that I’ve read called it “An episode of Scooby-Doo as directed by Dario Argento.” Yeah, that about sums it up.
The plot is fairly simple - a Japanese schoolgirl named Oshare and her six classmates take a trip to her mysterious aunt’s country home to get away from the city. This turns out to be a massive mistake, as the aunt is, in actuality, a kind of evil vampire witch who wants to steal her niece’s delicious youth. One by one, Oshare's classmates are picked off in the most peculiar ways, most of them eaten by various pieces of household furniture (couches, a mirror, a lamp, a piano, and so on). Plus, there’s a demonic cat and a flying, severed head intent on biting young girls square in the ass - all of which is presented using traditional animation, matte paintings, and collage imagery.
I can’t help but imagine what this movie would've looked like were it filmed today. It no doubt would've been doused in too much CGI and would therefore be completely uninteresting, or at the very least…not nearly as interesting. Thankfully, it was made 33 years ago in the safety of the 1970s.
Director Nobuhiko Obayashi based the story and its out-of-this-world imagery on the random musings of his eleven-year-old daughter, which brings to mind the epic webcomic known as Axe-Cop. Perhaps if Hollywood and company are all out of ideas, they should start letting the children of the world come up with some new ones.