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Review: Hausu

Will Coviello on a Japanese exploitation film that's part of Antenna Gallery's Scumbag Cinema series



The Scumbag Cinema series continues at Antenna Gallery with a couple of offbeat haunted house films. The Japanese half, Hausu (1977), is a Japanophile's treasure with its bizarre blend of cutesy (kawaii) and spirited (genki) schoolgirls going on a retreat to visit Gorgeous' (Kimiko Ikegami) mysterious aunt, who lives in a haunted home prone to bloody supernatural events. Upset that her father has remarried after the death of her mother, Gorgeous skips out of a family trip to seek out her mother's sister. The girls go by nicknames that stem from their interests, so Gorgeous is accompanied by Fantasy (Kumiko Oba), Kung-Fu (Miki Jinbo) and others. A black-and-white flashback to Gorgeous' grandparents' separation as her grandfather went off to war previews some lasting family curses, and it also signals other detours and unexplained genre meltdowns that at times are bizarre and amusing nonsequiturs. The film veers from a technicolored Sid and Marty Krofft-style bubblegum pop surrealism to sometimes campy horror-gore. The double feature also includes the unrelated 1986 American horror film House (aka Ding Dong, You're Dead), which features a Vietnam Veteran turned horror writer who is having troubles with his career. He moves into a house where his son disappeared and is pestered by ghosts and annoying neighbor Harold (George Wendt, aka Norm from Cheers). Director Steve Miner also directed the second and third installments of Friday the 13th. Free admission. — Will Coviello

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