How to describe Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 movie House? As a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby Doo as directed by Dario Argento? 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, only to come face to face with evil spirits, bloodthirsty pianos, and a demonic housecat. Too absurd to be genuinely terrifying, yet too nightmarish to be merely comic, House seems like it was beamed to Earth from another planet. Or perhaps the mind of a child: the director fashioned the script after the eccentric musings of his eleven-year-old daughter, then employed all the tricks in his analog arsenal (mattes, animation, and collage) to make them a visually astonishing, raucous reality. Never before released in the United States, and a bona fide cult classic in the making, House is one of the most exciting genre discoveries in years.
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