House, a 1977 Japanese horror-fantasy-comedy came to the midnight movies in town and I’m still trying to figure out if I just dreamed the whole thing. Many thanks to Hottlava.net, our local purveyors of experimental / trashy / weird cinema for bringing this gem to the big screen. Hottlava had a t-shirt give-away and showed a collection of odd little shorts before the feature to make the evening feel complete.
House could have stood on its own, however. Nearly every shot had at least one element of good old fashioned WTF. At times, it felt arty while other times, simply inept. The first twenty minutes or so are seriously, laugh out loud funny. At least this particular audience laughed out loud, YMMV. I’d forgotten how gosh-darned fun it is to see a movie in a crowded theatre with people who are actually there to enjoy a movie.
A synopsis wouldn’t do it justice but basically House has got something to do with ghosts and a summer vacation gone oddly wrong. The promotional material told us to imagine an episode of Scooby Doo directed by Dario Argento and that goes a long way to describing House. But I was also getting a strong vibe of Sid and Marty Krofft (H.R. Pufnstuff, Liddsville, Sigmund and the Seamonster…) that late 70’s goofy groove. Maybe if Jowdorowsky made Saturday morning TV.
Do not be mislead – despite the ghost and the bizarre murders – not for even the briefest instant was the film in any way “scary.” Clearly a lot of the delight was that I was simply not familar with the conventions of the film and so I was simply not getting the joke. And I found that sensation extremely pleasant. You might too.
The HotLava folks alleged that House was released on DVD but I’ve only been able to find a non-US friendly Region code 2 version. Netflix lists it as “soon.” If you do succeed in tracking down a copy, let me know where, OK?