Only a witch cat can close it.
Last night I went to a screening of one of my all-time favorite films, Hausu, one that doesn’t neatly fit into categorization but because of the copious blood spraying everywhere for 90% of it, let’s go with horror. The plot is loosely that 7 girls go to the countryside to visit Auntie and her white cat. Auntie lost her fiance in World War II and has been so lonely waiting for a visit. Auntie shows her gratitude with a series of surreal murders. The director, Nobuhiko Obayashi, was in attendance and looking very stylish and energetic for a man of 77.
Martin and I were some of the first people in line and coincidentally behind us were a very talented girl I follow on Tumblr named Tia (go see her art here. It’s nuts!) and friend of my past, Rachel. We had a good little chat in the rain, your normal Jodorowsky and Sailor Moon heart-to-hearts.
SEE I KNEW THE ONE WITH FLASH WOULD TURN OUR GREAT. LOVE, GRANDMA.
Look at you in your little rain jackets.
We got in and they were selling posters and having a meet and greet so I got in line. When it was my turn I nervously mumbled, [?????? ?????] (I like your hair) and he was like “Huh?” and I continued to mumble in Japanese, “It’s purple… It looks cool.” He just said [???] (Really?). So continues my excellent track record of meeting my idols. I wouldn’t have been any less mumbly or a dork in English.
He had a Q&A afterwards but spent the whole time very thoughtfully answering two questions in ways which really illuminated what the fuck was going on. Obayashi was born shortly before World War II in Hiroshima and this affected his whole perception of life, unsurprisingly. He got many of the ideas for this film from his daughter Chigumi, who was 11 at the time (“kodomo wa tensai”/”children are geniuses”, he said) and who is now a film director. This inspired the themes in the film of a generational gap that was impossible to bridge. Auntie’s life is irrevocably changed by the atomic bomb but the young girls in the film are born during a period of economic recovery. Their carefree happiness is juxtaposed against grotesque violence. On first watch, (and second and third!) Hausu is mostly notable for its wackiness, the extremity of its imagery, its actual joy and silliness. Like Last House on the Left, scenes of murder are often preceded or followed by cheery pop songs. A girl gets eaten by a fucking piano. It can easily be appreciated for both its ridiculousness and its surprising depth.
I found this video essay by kogonada to be a really beautiful way of explaining the themes of the movie:
Obayashi also had a touch of Tommy Wiseau about him, as he kept gesturing to his translator’s figure and appearance in order to demonstrate a point about how we perceive her in the light for her great figure and stylishness, but only in the dark can we truly know the contents of her heart, her worries, and her dreams. I did not need the lights to be out to perceive her discomfort.
Besides the movie’s theme that plays perhaps 400 times too many during the course of the film, it has a great soundtrack:
A youtube commenter actually had something insightful to say when they compared this track to maybe early Frank Zappa and Mothers of Invention. It’s also Kung Fu’s theme!
Tia was clever and won a t-shirt that’s been preserved for 40 years! Also she’s the cutest.
GUESS WHAT THOUGH I lost my signed poster when Martin, Tia, and I went to David’s Mah Lai Wah for after-movie noodles.
I sort of dressed up to look like the creepy NEW MOM character that walks around obliviously posing like a movie star while murder is immediately in her vicinity.
HIIII I’m YOUR NEW MOM. What do you mean I creep you out so much that you have to write to some lady you haven’t seen in 10 years at the risk of her house eating you? I’m a jewelry designer!
The gown is a vintage XL and it’s from Philly Aids Thrift. It was covered in all sorts of sad rust stains from improper storage but my loving fella OxyCleaned the hell out of it and made it brand new. It needs a proper photo shoot, I think!