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House (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

103 customer reviews

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(Oct 26, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

How to describe Nobuhiko Obayashi’s indescribable 1977 movie HOUSE (Hausu)? As a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby-Doo as directed by Mario Bava? Any of the above will do for this hallucinatory head trip about a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky country home and comes face-to-face with evil spirits, a demonic house cat, a bloodthirsty piano, and other ghoulish visions, all realized by Obayashi via a series of mattes, animation, and collage effects. Equal parts absurd and nightmarish, HOUSE might have been beamed to Earth from some other planet. Never before available on home video in the United States, it’s one of the most exciting cult discoveries in years.

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Constructing a House, a new video piece with director Nobuhiko Obayashi
  • Emotion, a 1966 experimental film by Obayashi
  • New video appreciation by director Ti West (House of the Devil)
  • Theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by Chuck Stephens

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Kimiko Ikegami, Kumiko Ohba, Yoko Minamida
    • Directors: Nobuhiko Obayashi
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
    • Language: Japanese
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: All Regions
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: October 26, 2010
    • Run Time: 88 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B003WKL6X0
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,635 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "House (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By ac on September 16, 2010
    Format: DVD
    Criterion is a great company -- arguably, the best DVD releasing company in the world. They are known for standards of excellence that aren't traditionally seen in most other companies' releases; not only in their DVD transfers and special features, but for the consistent high quality of the films they release. Most of the films Criterion release are already well-established, traditional, "classic" films. So, it's always nice to see a somewhat more "obscure" film get the Criterion treatment -- this film definitely deserves it.

    While not completely "obscure" -- it's quite well-known in Japan, as well as amongst underground horror and experimental film lovers around the world -- it certainly doesn't seem as, dare I say, "important" as many other Criterion releases. But being the underdog works here, since the film only costs $26 brand new (well below most "big" Criterion film's releases) so it will hopefully motivate more people to check out this work of art.

    ...YES, a work of art. While touted as a "horror" film, this most resembles an art film, one of the more experimental variety, and it is masterfully-shot and -directed. Utilizing all sorts of outrageous effects and downright bizarre editing, this often brings to mind directors like Shuji Terayama (Emperor Tomato Ketchup) and Toshio Matsumoto (Funeral Procession of Roses). While there are some more straightforward "horror" elements -- skeletons, an evil kitty -- most of them are downright silly, and remind me somewhat of American "classic" b-movie cheesefest Spookies than any serious work of horror. It is NEVER scary, and gets by mainly on absurdity and cheese.

    So, why is this film getting 5 stars? Why is it "worthy" of a Criterion release?
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    Format: DVD
    Every once in a while you read about a film that it's indescribable and like nothing you've ever seen before. Usually that's hyperbole; it's just a bit offbeat. Not in this case. House (made in 1977) is genuinely like no other film I'd ever seen before, and I loved every minute. The closest in vibe to this film that I've seen is Funky Forest: The First Contact - but that one's all over the place, and lacks the continuity of a single strange story like House. It's surreal horror, a hallucinatory and often hilarious supernatural thriller about Japanese schoolgirls who spend their school vacation visiting the aging aunt of their classmate. This is the kind of film you want to see in theaters if you have a chance - but barring that see it at home, after it's out on dvd, with an open-minded crowd of friends who dig foreign, cult or arthouse films.

    Gorgeous, as she's known, is irate that her father has decided to remarry, and so she invites her friends to stay in the aging and empty country house of her aunt rather than go with her father and his fiancee on vacation. We are introduced to each of her friends, all of whom have nicknames that describe their temperament and character: there is the beautiful Gorgeous, there's the apparently dreamy and gullible Fantasy, the brainy Professor, the always hungry Mac, the musical Melody, and so on. Along the way, on a magical train ride in which the animated fantasy background that shines through the windows of the train seems to resemble a film strip, she tells them how her aunt had once loved a man who promised to come for her after the war, but never returned.
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    8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on November 5, 2010
    Format: DVD
    When you first start watching House, you think that you're watching The Partridge Family - The Complete First Season on acid and you wonder when the horror film elements are going appear which really doesn't happen until the girls arrive at auntie's house. Obayashi utilizes all sorts of deliberately cheap special effects, like obvious rear projection and clunky animation but mixes it with sophisticated effects and stunning cinematography to create a heightened sense of the universe. Throw in unpredictable segues to other scenes that have a jarring, unsettling effect and you have a unique film. These schizophrenic tempo changes and an often cartoonish take on horror can be seen in later in the early films of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson but House has them both beat in terms of sheer audacity and unhinged imagery. If you haven't surrendered to House by the time one of the girls is devoured by a piano then this is probably not the film for you. This is a film not to be seen but to be experienced much like Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo, another head trip kind of film.

    "Emotion" is a 1966 experimental short film made by Obayashi. It displays a lot of the stylistic flourishes still in their infancy and that would surface again in House - these include bizarre segues, hyperactive editing and unusual musical cues.

    "House Appraisal" features filmmaker Ti West offering his thoughts on the film. He sees it as being told from the point-of-view of a child. He also comments on the influence of Obayashi's work as a television commercial director.
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    House (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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