• HOUSE

    Quick—what 1977 slapstick-horror movie features floating severed heads, a man transformed into a pile of fruit, a girl-eating piano, and the occasional stop-motion tangent? If you can’t answer now, you’ll be able to soon, because Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House is coming to town, and once you see it you won’t forget it. Never before released in the United States, this ever-growing cult phenomenon is finally seeing the light of a projector thanks to Janus Films, whose new print of the film begins at New York’s IFC Center this Friday, January 15, and then travels to cities across the country (click here for dates). On the eve of the official North American unveiling of this delightfully evil and more than a little goofy ghost story, we spoke with Janus Films’ Brian Belovarac about the rediscovery of a must-see mind-boggler, which Seattle Weekly has called “an effects-saturated dreamscape . . . It’s like Douglas Sirk on acid.”

     

    How did Janus Films begin the process of bringing House to U.S. theaters for the first time?

    House was originally brought into the Janus library as a possible Eclipse title, when Eclipse was conceived of as a possible subsidiary label for cult films. That changed, of course, and the film remained in limbo until we began to get a few screening requests from genre-savvy venues. It can be tough to convince theaters to book a repertory title that doesnt have an established critical reputation, so we hadnt originally thought of House as a theatrical release. It has developed a fair-size reputation on the gray market, where its been a staple for some time, but its such a blast to see with an audience that we did a small digital microtour in order to spread word of mouth. These screenings were successful beyond our expectations; we had two raucous, sold-out shows at the New York Asian Film Festival, and the film seems to have developed a cult-within-a-cult in every city it’s played.

    Many viewers here—even cinephiles—will not have heard of director Nobuhiko Obayashi. Is he well-known in Japan?

    Obayashi was already famous in Japan as a director of commercials before House, and its trailer even uses this as a selling point. And check out this Mandom ad—one of his nuttiest. Hes since directed almost forty films in many different genres, and is also a well-known television personality.

    House is basically indescribable. But if you had to, how would you describe it?

    An exhilarating grab bag of visual tricks, a disturbing satire that turns the giddy sheen of pop culture against itself, and an oddly moving coming-of-age allegory. I think its easy to praise the film as surreal, weird, etc., and leave it at that, but its a very carefully crafted work, and reveals a new layer with each viewing.

    Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House: Come Inside Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House: Come Inside

25 comments

  • By GP
    January 14, 2010
    12:07 PM

    there is also the Eureka release... in which aspects are they different?
    Reply
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  • By Miguel
    January 14, 2010
    03:27 PM

    That trailer was enough to have me buying this one right away if it ever deserves the spine number.
    Reply
  • By JPxxx
    January 14, 2010
    04:46 PM

    I am deliriously happy at this news - House is one of the greatest cinematic eyefucks ever and the living definition of No, Really, You Haven't Seen This Before. Thank you so much!
    Reply
  • By CHRIS KOENIG
    January 14, 2010
    10:49 PM

    So after when "House" is given a much-deserved DVD release, are we gonna get those four Shochiku titles "The X From Outer Space" (1967), "Goke, the Body Snatcher From Hell" (1968), "Genocide" (1968) and "Living Skelleton" (1968) soon after? My bootleg's can only last as much as they can! And don't forget about those Nobuo Nakagawa titles as well! Seriously, take a break from the art-house stuff and deliver these soon before the interest start to wear thin!
    Reply
  • By Haruka
    January 14, 2010
    11:11 PM

    Just curious... will the subtitle be the newly improved version or the same one which was created from German dub...? For the theatrical showing... I worked on the subs for Home Vision which was never released in DVD. I rewrote the entire movie becasue the existing subs were terrible.
    Reply
  • By Jonah
    January 21, 2010
    05:14 PM

    Haruka, Janus's subtitles are new and very much improved over Bergutze's German-to-English subs. I myself have the Japanese DVD with subtitles from the IFC broadcast timed to it (by Lord Retsudo), which is watchable but has many errors and omissions (for example, it alternates between calling Gorgeous "Gorgeous" and "Oshare", which is Japanese for "Gorgeous"). The subtitles based on the IFC broadcast that I have are considered superior to the German-to-English subs, and the new subtitles Janus has made blow them both out of the water. They'll increase your comprehension of the film. I have seen them once on the "old" digital projection, and last night on the new (and spectacular) 35mm print. The Masters of Cinema DVD comes out this week, but I plan on waiting for the Criterion as it will probably feature all of the content and I'm not made of money. I would really like to confirm or disprove my suspicion that Janus's cut of the film differs from, and is superior to, the cut of the film from the Japanese DVD. I suspect the new Janus restoration may have several additional shots.
    Reply
  • By SJ
    February 01, 2010
    03:46 AM

    Definitely the most enjoyable viewing experience I've had in years. Looking forward to getting the blu-ray, and would also love having a copy of the soundtrack.
    Reply
  • By Sugar Johnson
    February 10, 2010
    02:56 PM

    Why has no one discussed the psychedelic element of this film? This is the only motion picture that has been proven to initiate acid flashbacks in open-minded film viewers. Also, when will the amazing musical score be released?
    Reply
  • By Frank B
    February 17, 2010
    01:39 PM

    When will Criterion release this?
    Reply
  • By Steve Whealton
    February 17, 2010
    05:00 PM

    I have a friend who will lover this — 'bout half as much as her friend, me.
    Reply
  • By Stephen Allen Whealton
    February 17, 2010
    05:02 PM

    oops! Make that "will love this" — and sorry for the paltry pun.
    Reply
  • By Jon H.
    February 17, 2010
    06:43 PM

    Why do good things like this never come to Mississippi? I hate the south so much.
    Reply
  • By Catherine Bui
    February 17, 2010
    09:30 PM

    could someone please tell me the date and times for the showings that are in LA please? I cant find it anywhere :(
    Reply
  • By Tim Damon
    February 18, 2010
    12:19 AM

    March 12 - March 16 Los Angeles, CA - New Beverly Cinema
    Reply
  • By jefferson
    February 18, 2010
    03:58 PM

    How many people have to ask before there is word on a possible release?
    Reply
  • By Zach
    February 23, 2010
    04:54 PM

    For everyone who keeps asking about the DVD release: http://twitter.com/janusfilms/status/4534418889
    Reply
  • By Alexander Lattanzi
    March 02, 2010
    12:52 PM

    This looks unbelievable. I can't wait, its coming to a theater here in Wilmington Delaware in a couple weeks.
    Reply
  • By Tom Harris
    April 23, 2010
    08:41 AM

    HAUSU will be showing at The SENATOR in Baltimore this weekend - midnight shows tonight & Saturday have just been added! Details and showtimes at http://senator.com If you're in the neighborhood, treat yourself to this experience in an historic 1939 art deco landmark! And, if you're interested, while you're there ask about how the future of the property is in jeopardy. ;)
    Reply
  • By rnm
    July 30, 2010
    04:38 PM

    why is the blu ray listed as being 1.33-1? Its in widescreen on the UK Eureka DVD
    Reply
  • By trunkster
    August 08, 2010
    02:11 AM

    @RNM. Actually the original film is shot in academy ratio (1.37). Eureka's version uses the toho remaster which is (1.55). If you make the comparison, converting a 1.37 to 1.33 will cut only a small part of the sides of the image. Converting from 1.37 to 1.55 though will cut off a much larger portion of the top/bottom. If you compare the Eureka widescreen to the trailer on youtube, you will see that the 4:3 (1.33) trailer actually shows more of the image. Let's hope that Criterion isn't using the Toho remaster and cutting it to 4:3, now that would be bad. ^_^
    Reply

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