Monday, August 18, 2014

Classic Horror Review: The Brood (1979) Cronenberg

The Brood (1979)
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Stars: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle


Review by Will Woolery

From the first scene in David Cronenberg’s ’79 effort The Brood, the viewer is made uncomfortable.  We watch in horrified anger, much as the films protagonist Frank Carveth does, while the process of a new psychiatric procedure called psychoplasmics is exhibited for an audience.  A grown man whimpers in front of the audience as the bizarre and explosive Dr. Raglan verbally abuses him and likens him to a little girl while play-acting as the man’s father.  Once he hits the breaking point, the patient rips off his shirt and reveals several red welts and growths have formed through his therapy, like his insecurities and instabilities have started to fight their way out of his body. 

Exposition goes as such, Frank Carveth is in the middle of a custody battle for his daughter.  Carveth’s wife Nola is in intensive therapy with Dr. Raglan, using the dangerous new method of psychoplasmics, after abusing her daughter, when strange murders start to occur.  Child-sized creatures start killing various people that might keep Nola away from her daughter.  Frank is forced to investigate and fight, at first for his marriage, then for the custody of his child, and then for the lives of his family. 

The Brood shares a few tonal similarities with the last hour or so of The Shining (released a year later). Every part of it feels very cold, rooms are sparse and all very similar, and often in the windows you see a snowy Canadian background reflecting a pale light in to the rooms.  This could be due to the low budget the film had, but it feels very deliberate. And much like the Shining, the uncomfortable and eerie feel of the movie comes just as much from the subject matter as it does its spooks and ghouls.  At its heart, the movie is about divorce, a gory Kramer v Kramer of sorts, and the slow realization that the person you loved isn’t REALLY that person anymore at all. While The Shining focused on a husband’s decent into madness, The Brood focuses on the discovery that everything in the husband’s life has gone out of his control.  It seems like our protagonist blinked and his whole world turned upside down.  It’s pretty obvious that Cronenberg was going through some shit when he wrote this.  A quick bit of internet creeping shows he was in fact getting divorced from his wife the same year the movie was released.  


“He first married Margaret Hindson in 1972: then his seven-year marriage ended in 1979 amidst personal and professional differences. They had one daughter, Cassandra Cronenberg. Now he is married to Carolyn Zeifman, production assistant on Rabid. They have two children, Caitlin and Brandon.[24] In the 1992 book Cronenberg on Cronenberg, he revealed that The Brood was inspired by events that occurred during the unraveling of his first marriage, which caused both Cronenberg and his daughter Cassandra a great deal of turmoil. The character Nola Carveth, mother of the brood, is based on Cassandra's mother. Cronenberg said that he found the shooting of the climactic scene, in which Nola was strangled by her husband, to be "very satisfying"—Wikipedia, David Cronenburg


Its amazing that a movie can start as a very well done drama/thriller about divorce, loss, and madness and then slowly twist into the body terror Cronenberg is so well known for.  The Brood  has everything from midget monsters pummeling pretty school teachers, to death in front of children, to a woman licking the afterbirth from her a-sexually produced spawn, to oddly disturbing shots of milk and orange Juice mixing together on the floor, and that’s still only part of what’s so scary.  You’d think the evil doctor was the big bad from the beginning.  While yes, he’s totally evil; he’s also not the most evil or even most dangerous monster of the film. 

The make-up effects are terrific, even if they are hidden for the most part.  The film slowly shows more and more of its monsters as it goes on.  First, you’d only get the hands of the child-like brood, then you see only glimpse of them running and attacking.  It builds and builds until you see everything of them.  You know how they die, how they look, and in the film’s most famous and harrowing sequence, you see how they are birthed and just what the biggest side effect of psychoplasmics is.  

Warning: side effects include constipation, nausea, a brood of asexually produced demon children, and dryness of the eyes.


Overall, The Brood is a terrific mix of gore and psychological horror and one of Cronenberg’s best films, right up there with The Fly, Videodrome, and even his more ‘serious’ dramatic efforts like History of Violence and Eastern Promises.  All the actors bring in great performances, the story eases you in with relatable and real drama and adds some honest, touching, human moments before letting the monster movie madness go insane.  The imagery is gruesome enough to stay with you long after you stop watching.   Just the over the top and wild eyed performance from Oliver Reed, as Dr. Hal Raglan, is worth the price of admission, but The Brood keeps giving you more.  

- Will Woolery
Staff Writer

Visit Will's website

Found Footage Horror Review: The Bay (2012)

The Bay (2012)
Director: Barry Levinson
Writer: Michael Wallach
Stars: Kether Donohue, Kristen Connolly, Frank Deal


Review By Peter DiGiovanni

Yet another in the "found footage” genre, The Bay (2012) feels more like a faux documentary with some environmentally conscience horror thrown in to keep you interested.  I actually think a story of contaminated water is frightening enough without the pseudo zombie elements present in the second half, but gore fans may welcome this with open arms.  The gore is more realistic than gratuitous, which suits the documentary style perfectly, and much of the gore is presented through still photography.

The story centers on a seaside town in Maryland, plagued by contaminated water during an annual Fourth of July celebration in 2009.  The footage examines events leading up to the occurrence, beginning with the discovery of two dead oceanographers in the bay.  Via footage from various different sources (everything from surveillance to video blogs), we learn of a deadly parasite discovered by the oceanographers before their death and how this ultimately led to the grisly outbreak.  Throughout the film various characters are infected by the parasite/water and meet unfortunate ends.  Pretty standard stuff:  the typical found footage character who, when they see their girlfriend being eaten alive by some ungodly aquatic force, decides to dive in the water after her...while still holding the camera.  At least the footage survives.

While there are several characters involved, it centers on an amateur reporter who survived the plague and is now “leaking” the footage, which we have the displeasure of watching.  She is more annoying than compelling and overall the acting from all parties involved is pretty juvenile.  I do like how, unlike most found footage movies, it doesn’t all hinder on one last big scare at the film’s conclusion.  Instead, the movie litters it’s scares throughout the duration of the piece; it’s biggest scare involving only audio of two police officers inside a seemingly abandoned house.  In fact, the biggest shock came during the end credits when I realized who directed this movie...Barry Levinson.  Yes, Academy Award winning director of such non-horror classics like Diner (1982), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), and Rain Man (1988), among many others.  I was so stunned The Bay was directed by Levinson, I had to double check online to make sure this was the same Barry Levinson I was already very familiar with.  Not his best work.  I think he could have probably made a better straight forward dramatic thriller about a small community plagued by deadly outbreak than that of a found footage horror flick.

- Peter DiGiovanni
Staff Writer

Found Footage Horror Review: Grave Encounters (2011)

Grave Encounters (2011)
Directors: Colin Minihan (as The Vicious Brothers) , Stuart Ortiz (as The Vicious Brothers)
Writers: The Vicious Brothers, Stuart Ortiz

Stars: Ben Wilkinson, Sean Rogerson, Ashleigh Gryzko



Review by Alanda Sponenberg

Grave Encounters is a found footage horror that gives us a behind-the-scenes look at a paranormal reality show. Being a ghost hunting show, of course it's going to take place in an abandoned building, preferably an old medical building, with the crew locked into said building.

The main focus of the film is to follow a group of ghost hunters, including a not so psychic, psychic. The other half of the group is the behind-the-scenes crew, such as a computer expert and the "labor intensive" group handle man.

The movie starts out slow, not much happens, the ghost hunters group gets to the location, they look around, mark certain locations, and unload the equipment. They begin to work, doing their electronic voice recordings (EVP), making, or trying to make the spirits mad, so they would respond. Then they start goofing off making fun of the building and, you guessed it, drinking.

Time then begins to become irrelevant, that's when the truly odd, scary and heart-stopping stuff happens. In addition, as in most horror movies where the main cast is in a abandoned building, one by one they begin to vanish.

I have seen this a million plus times, for the first viewing, there are some jump scares. There are some mind twisting scenes and the actors did a very good job on a renovated idea. The story is ok, but the editing could have been a bit better. It's still a good movie, even if it is categorized as a C grade movie.


- Alanda Sponenberg 
Staff Writer

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sci-Fi Horror Review: Videodrome (1983) Cronenberg

Videodrome (1983)
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg

Stars: James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits


Review By David Kempski

“Long live the new flesh.” James Woods (Vampires) plays a sleazy television executive – as if there’s any other kind – looking for the next big thing when he stumbles upon a pirated broadcast, the eponymous Videodrome. Featuring torture and murder, Videodrome instantly begins to fascinate him and his new masochistic girlfriend, played by Deborah Harry of Blondie (Super 8). As Woods begins to investigate the source of the signal, he stumbles onto a man who lives only on video tape, a church that treats the homeless with endless hours of television, and the fact that Videodrome produces a brain tumor that causes violent hallucinations.

Finding that the signal originates in Pittsburgh (is that really such a surprise?) Woods begins to investigate the reality of these broadcasts and disappearance of Harry. Eventually, he becomes a pawn in an ongoing war for control of the future, with much delightfully disgusting Croenenberg body-horror along the way. Highlights include a vagina in Woods’ stomach, a literal hand grenade, and death by cancer-causing flesh bullet (I think it was Freud who said a flesh bullet is never just a flesh bullet). Warning: personal enjoyment of this kind of thing may vary.

It’s not hard to see the way Croenenberg predicted our modern media landscape, from reality television to YouTube. What else is the “new flesh” but our modern lives lived anonymously over the computer? As people give more and more of their lives over to technology, so much so, that even in the poorest towns in third world countries you can find people with cell phones, it’s reasonable to wonder what this all means for the future and to feel a certain fear for our humanity. It’s this part of the movie that feels the most relevant and engaging. Not to mention the always enjoyable Woods and those special effects provided by master Rick Baker (The Howling) mentioned before.

However there’s always something about stories emphasizing the dangers of technology that comes across as a little silly and retrograde. Were there plays about the dangers of radio when it was first introduced? Did people tap out stories where telegraphs merge with humans, one dot and dash at a time? Anytime new technology is invented, someone is going to write a story showing the dark side of said technology, and it will always wind up looking a little dated and goofy (I’m looking at you, The Net.) It’s kinda hard here not to laugh when several scenes involve evil, pulsating Betamax tapes.

The story also gets a little too bogged down in its philosophies. There doesn’t need to be clear delineations of good and evil but the differences between various factions in this movie is hard to parse. One wants to use the Videodrome signal as a weapon (I think), the other wants to welcome members into a new reality of life-everlasting on video (or something like that). No movie needs to spoon feed morals and lessons, or even clarity, but it’s hard to see a point other than “too much television is bad.” Sex and violence isn’t the future of entertainment, they’re as old a humanity itself.

Still, the power and seduction of Videodrome is undeniable. All you have to do is walk down the street and watch people unable to put down their smartphones to wonder if the future predicted in this movie is already here. Croenenberg has style and talent to spare and it’s easy to get sucked in, kinda like Woods pushing his face into an undulating television screen. If a brain tumor is the result, then long live the new flesh.

- David Kempski
Staff Writer

Follow David on Twitter

Horror Redux: Righting the wrongs of Saw VII (3-D): The Final Chapter

Horror Redux: Righting the wrongs of...
Saw VII (3-D): The Final Chapter


By Rick Austin

Saw VII. Also known as Saw 3-D, or Saw: The Final Chapter. The muddled-up title didn't help to begin with. Yes, it was in 3-D, but unlike Jaws 3-D, it wasn't the third film in the series and make use of the number to full effect. VII-D doesn't make sense, and The Final Chapter is good but doesn't sell that it's in 3-D. What were they thinking?

The original Saw was one of the smartest horror films in history. Gory, yes. Scary, yes. But it was also highly intelligent, a locked-room mystery that owed more to Agatha Christie than critics would care to admit. Over the series of films the gore got amped and the message got skewed, but we got a solid grasp on what made the so-called “Jigsaw” tick. They established a timeline, sneakily played around with it and every film was like a piece of a puzzle to see a bigger picture.

Then the last piece was presented, only it didn't fit.

It began by explaining what happened to Doctor Gordon at the end of the first film, and they gave us the answer that almost every fan had figured out. Then they picked up from the end of the previous film, with Jill Tuck placing Detective Hoffman in a reverse bear trap, only to see him survive. Tuck goes to the cops and quickly rats out Hoffman as being the Jigsaw apprentice. Hoffman goes into action and sets his own traps which implicate Jill as the apprentice.

Meanwhile, a self-help guru, who falsely claims he survived one of Jigsaw's tests, is abducted and put into a genuine test, where he has to re-enact the things he lied about doing. Hoffman and Jill square off, it's reverse bear trap time again and then we're left with a twist that didn't surprise anyone, because of the earlier scenes with Doctor Gordon.

They really shouldn't have shown that intro.

For a series of films that have prided themselves on ingenious twists, this was a let down because it didn't have one.

The film, like Hoffman, ignored the rules. Right in the beginning it was explained that Jigsaw doesn't kill, technically. He abhors murderers. He gave people a fighting chance to live. With his old apprentice Amanda, we saw what happens when even his own people cross that boundary. Here we've had Hoffman survive a trap but go on a killing spree, and Jigsaw's mystery apprentice breaks the same rules at the end.

Oh, and there's a dream sequence.

This whole mess is brought to us in 3-D, which it didn't need and raised the ticket prices for no good reason. Storywise it wrapped things up, but it wasn't a satisfying conclusion. I'm a huge fan of the whole series, but even I couldn't love this one. The Bobby Dagen storyline made sense, a lying publicity-hungry, self-help guy cashing in on all the Jigsaw hooplah deserved to be tested. Throughout the films we've seen the infamy that Jigsaw has achieved with the public, and it adds up. The rest of the film didn't.

So how do we fix it?

The Bobby Dagen storyline was decent, it worked. The theory was sound, although clearly it was just the filler for the real story of Hoffman and Jill. The only way to improve the Bobby Dagen segments is if we could actually sympathize with him, which we can't. He's a liar and a lousy person.

The battle between Hoffman and Jill is the real meat of the story. Who deserves to carry on Jigsaw's legacy? A crooked ex-cop? An ex who didn't want to get involved? Doctor Gordon and his ex foot? Try this for size...

Hoffman escapes from the reverse bear trap and chases after Jill. He catches her, knocks her down and stands over her. Suddenly he's leapt upon by two Jigsaw apprentices wearing the Pighead mask. Jill is stunned and doesn't have a chance to react before she's knocked out by a third. Hoffman and Jill awaken in a darkened room, both chained to pipes. Neither of them have a clue as to what's going on, and quickly blame each other.

The lights come on and they aren't alone. Also chained are Doctor Gordon and Bobby Dagen. Each has to explain why they're there. Hoffman failed his test. Jill failed Jigsaw. Doctor Gordon confesses to being an apprentice but having failed too. Dagen admits to being a fraud. Together they need to figure out why they're there, who placed them in the room and is one of them the new Jigsaw. The obvious choice is Gordon, so instantly it can't be him. It's enough to confirm the suspicions of the fans that he survived and became an apprentice. But the next Jigsaw? No.

Accusations fly thick and fast, while they have to fight a series of tests to prove themselves worthy. At the end the bombshell hits. What if Bobby Dagen really had been tested before? What if he was a Jigsaw apprentice like Amanda had been? A survivor who promoted the message of Jigsaw to the public, now planted into this game under false pretences to find out if any of them deserve to be accepted by the new Jigsaw.

But if it isn't them, then who is the new Jigsaw?

As Dagen and one other survivor make it through, they enter a large room. Surrounding them are hundreds of people all wearing the Pighead mask. The cult of Jigsaw is not only alive but flourishing. The apprentices part, allowing the survivors to make their way forward where they find a wall of monitor screens. In front of it we see Billy the puppet on a table, while someone is sitting in a leather chair with his back to them.

“Congratulations,” says the new Jigsaw in a familiar voice. “You have proven yourself worthy of the gift of life. Some people are so ungrateful to be alive, wasting their time and energy, but not you.”

The chair slowly turns and seated in it we find Detective David Tapp.

As the Hello Zepp music plays, we see Tapp's fate after the original film. Healed by Jigsaw and surviving his own test, he suffered depression pushing him to the brink of suicide and shooting himself in the head. As has been proven, 25% of self-inflicted headshot wound victims survive, and he's one of them. Jigsaw believes him to be another survivor in the same way as he survived his own suicide attempt and took Tapp in, even aiding him in faking his own death afterwards.

Jigsaw found Tapp to be the one man with the ability to survive and the obsession needed to continue...

It doesn't contradict the games and it works. If the cameo of Danny Glover as Tapp were kept secret, with all attention focused on the return of Doctor Gordon it could come as a great (and welcome) surprise. Hoffman was a dud. Jill Tuck was good, but did too little too late. Gordon was too obvious. Also, the story needed to get back to the primary focus of being as much a mystery as a horror film, and with all the usual suspects accounted for, this could have done that.


That's how you end the series: with a bang, not a whimper.

- Rick Austin
Staff Writer

Follow Rick on Twitter

Horror Redux: Righting the Wrongs of Bad Movies

Horror Redux: Righting the Wrongs of Bad Movies


By Rick Austin       
     
There's a problem out there.

Hollywood spends billions of dollars every year rebooting or remaking films which, to be honest, didn't need it because the originals were good enough. They do it because they think it's an easy way to get money out of the already existing fans, but very often their efforts are just pale imitations of the original product. It's a waste.

Wouldn't it make more sense to remake bad films, knowing what the flaws were with the originals and just fixing them up? Deep inside every bad film – no matter how awful it is - is the grain of a good idea, a concept that sounded good originally but fell apart in execution. It could be an old '50s B-movie shocker or a modern let-down. They have their fans, but the fans deserve something better.

So let's give them what they deserve. Let's re-imagine those disappointments, and maybe someone out there will listen.

We're going to be running a series of articles focusing on bad (or not too bad!) movies, explaining what made them bad and just how they should have been handled. It may be potential sequels to set things right, reboots to kick what's broken to the curb, or tweaks to something that's already long past.


Could Ed Wood have been on to a potential goldmine with Bride of the Monster? Could Cabin In The Woods have a sequel given how it ended? Did A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 need a pool party scene? Was Jason X in need of that metal hockey mask? More story for Resident Evil and more action for Silent Hill? We'll find out!

- Rick Austin
Staff Writer

Follow Rick on Twitter

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Sound of Fear: My 5 Favorite Horror Scores

The Sound of Fear: My Five Favorite Horror Scores

By Zachary FR Anderson


Could you imagine the opening crawl from Star Wars in complete silence? Would the land of “cavaliers and cotton fields” in the landmark film Gone With The Wind still be “a dream remembered” if Max Steiner’s score didn’t let the wind take us to an unknown fate? Would the vast landscapes of The West or the gallantry of the cowboy still be romanticized if Alfred Newman or Elmer Bernstein were never born? Would we still love Fred and Ginger if this scene from SwingTime was only dance and no song?

I claim that the third most important member of a film’s creative team is the composer, third only to the director and cinematographer. Music taps into our souls and releases this frenzy of emotion that aids us in forgetting about the outside world and entering the celluloid representation what we aspire to be, what he hope to be, what we dream to be. A director’s vision becomes full and balanced when music and sound are added.

But an exception to this rule would be the horror genre. The genre’s masters have been able to scare us with silence in a pivotal scene. One scene that comes to mind is from Jaws when Brody is trying to relax on the beach. Notice how impending danger is hinted at by Spielberg with scenes such as a dog fetching a stick in the water and never coming back. Or how the camera keeps the background in focus as a man talks to Brody, to hint at where the horror will take place.


But if you watched the above scene, you will notice that John William’s infamous score plays as we see the swimmers from the shark’s point of view. This is when it is used appropriately, because now we know it’s time to scream, “HOLY CRAP! SOMEONE’S GOING TO DIE!” But the point is that horror scores are just not given enough credit. So this list will be five (in no particular order) of my favorite horror movie scores.

1) Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) Composers: Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind

Kubrick does it best. The Shining is one of the most famous horror films of all time and it’s beloved because of its symbolism (that comes with all Kubrick films) and its overall creepiness. But the score isn’t given enough credit. The electronic sound of the music adds to the creepiness of the landscape as we glide to the Overlook Hotel in the opening credits. I remember watching this film for the first time at the age of nine (I had such cool parents) and having to hide under my blanket because the opening scared me so much. As I got older, I realized that the credits were scary because the score was so scary. Right off the bat, Kubrick shoves the audience into chaos and madness. That’s why Kubrick does it best.


2) Jonathan Demme’s The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) Composer: Howard Shore

My favorite film in the genre also has one of my favorite scores of any movie. Although not as memorable as Shore’s most recent work on the Middle Earth series of films, Howard Shore’s orchestra preserves the spectacle of the brutality of this film. The scene I cite is the beginning of Lecter’s escape from the courthouse. This scene follows the moment after Lecter learns of Clarice’s childhood trauma that involved the screaming of lambs. When Clarice is gone, Lecter orders the second dinner of rare lamb chops. While it is being prepared, Lecter takes time to find a piece of a pen that he hid in his mouth. Lecter breaks out and begins to beat the guards. He pepper sprays one of them after biting a piece of their face off (I would have pepper sprayed him before biting his face off, but that’s just me). He then turns his attention to the other guard who is cuffed to the wall. Screams of terror are followed by a swift bash to the head and then silence. On a different note, just look at Lecter’s face as he does this. Absolutely no emotion. Absolutely terrifying.


3) Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) Composer: Wojciech Kilar

Sometimes bad movies have awesome scores (see Treasure Planet). This is particularly true with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola’s retelling of the famous tale. So much went wrong with this movie, particularly the fact that Coppola was trying to make it too many things. Wikipedia describes it as a, “horror fantasy erotic drama film” if you want to see the worst genres that could ever go together, well you should look back at the former. But one thing that went right was the choice to use Pole Wjciech Kilar as composer. He’s one of my personal favorites because he puts so much character into his work. My favorite work of his, entitled Exodusmakes great use of the oboe and harp as they introduce us to the journey that gives the piece it’s title and the perils that are to come. But I digress. At its core, Dracula is a scary story that was written by a Briton. Kilar must have read the source material while creating the music because it preserves the character of the story while at the same time trying not to make it about a Romanian count who also happened to be a vampire. Afterall, Dracula is a classic gothic tale. And it is very English.


4) Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) Composer: Bernard Hermann

STOP! Does Vertigo even count as a horror film? I’ll leave that up to the readers in the comments section. 

Vertigo is a film about obsession. It’s a film about the fear of having the worst be right behind you. A film about mystery and a trauma that becomes a key plot point in the film. Anyways, if the film was a meal, Hermann’s score was the perfect wine to be paired with it. Just listen to the opening theme as we spin out of control while the music swirls into insanity. If this isn’t the makings of a great film, I don’t know what is.


5) Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) Composer: Bernard Hermann

I tried really hard not to repeat composers, but I just couldn’t resist. Psycho isn’t just a movie, it’s a piece of pop culture. Think of any other scene that is as universal as the infamous shower scene.


But you may think that The Shower Scene would be my citation for this great film’s score. Unfortunately, I feel like the opening music deserves more credit than it has. This opens the film as well as the scene when Janet Leigh is driving through the dessert after taking the money. It’s chaotic and somewhat foreshadowing of what will come. So there you go.


If you disagree with my list, that’s totally alright. In fact, I’m interested in hearing your favorite horror scores. Leave them in the comments section.


Cheers. 

- Zachary FR Anderson

(In addition to being a movie geek, Zach Anderson is also a functioning human being.) 

Classic Japanese Horror Review: Hausu (House) (1977)



Hausu (House) (1977)
Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Writers: Chiho Katsura (screenplay), Chigumi Ôbayashi (original story)
Stars: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Ohba 



Review By Andrew Megow

So you want to know what the Japanese film Hausu (House) is about? You want to know, what does a film like Hausu have to offer you, the audience, in terms of watch-ability and entertainment value? Well, if you’re an everyday run-of-the-mill average Joe or Jane, I can assure you Hausu is nothing like anything you’ve ever seen.
  
Before I continue any further, please watch the trailer. It explains everything.


Did you watch it? Yeah? Well the whole film is like that. Every creepy-fun minute of it.

Hausu is almost too surreal to be explained, but the plot is basic. Tell me if you’ve heard this plot before: 6 girls go on a trip to a giant house in the country and one by one they are all murdered. Sound familiar? You can tell the film doesn’t care about plot when the main characters are named after their special talents. (i.e. There’s one girl named Melody. She’s good at playing the piano. Another is named Kung-fu etc.) It almost seems as if the director, “Alright, the plot’s there, now let’s make it fun."

Director Nobuhiko Obayashi uses every film trick in the book. Some scenes are animated, some are superimposed, and some are just mattresses. (a girl is literally eaten by several mattresses) These effects help Hausu’s unpredictability, you just never know what’s going to happen next. It helps the film’s horror content, since the effects are probably too ridiculous for today’s horror moviegoer. What it lacks in legitimate scares it makes up for with complete out of this world craziness.

When I see Hausu, I feel like it’s a dream. The whole film is in it’s own little world and I think that’s part of its likability. Those that find it ‘stupid’... I feel these people are either constantly searching for what is ‘normal’ or they just were expecting more of what they’re used to. To me, Hausu is like french fries on a pizza, some people embrace the idea and learn that it’s actually quite good and others are simply repulsed by the idea, they wouldn’t go near it. I can give you a guarantee that if you ask someone who has seen Hausu and they loved it, they are going to be a fun person to hang out with.

You may be asking why I haven’t really talked about the film. Well, I could describe to you the scene where a girl is eaten by a piano and later we see her fingertips play the piano. I could mention that the walls are cover with pictures of cats and they all start bleeding. Did I mention that someone is literally eaten by mattresses? The whole film has so many memorable scenes that it really is hard to focus on one scene. I recommend this film to any film enthusiast, because visually, it is stunning.

Excuse the plug, but if you would like to watch Hausu and have a HULU Plus account, you can find it in the Criterion Collection section on HULU Plus. You may not get too scared, but trust me, you WILL not be bored.

Scariest Scene: If I had to pick a scary scene, I guess the piano section is at least unsettling. There’s a lot of animation and a lot of lunacy, enough to maybe evoke some scares. Anyone creeped out by stop-animation may need to sit this one out.

Rating: 4 blood puking cats out of 5






- Andrew Megow
Staff Writer

Follow Andrew on Twitter  or Facebook