Wednesday, March 20, 2013


In contention for the best worst movie currently available through Criterion, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s mind-bendingly convoluted House somehow found a way to call Everything Is Terrible!’s bluff before some of the dudes in Everything Is Terrible! were even born. It’s an uncanny mix of self-aware comedy, genre horror, and one of the most incongruously cheerful scores this side of Gremlins 2: The New Batch (seriously though, close your eyes and listen to that supremely upbeat synth-wave soundtrack sometime). Will this movie permanently alter the state of your mind? Maybe, but at least you’ll have a definitive score to quizzically look at/put in your drooling mouth afterwards…
  • Knowing full well that audiences will need *something* tangible to cling to in this movie, and appeasing them by giving its tween girl protagonists such generic names as: Gorgeous, Prof, Kung Fu, Fantasy, Sweet, Melody, and Mac. = -5pts 
  • Naming the over-eater in the circle of friends Mac. = -30pts 
  • Mac having no discernible increased BMI in relation to the other girls. = +10pts 
  • When introducing her new mother, Gorgeous’ father starts by doing a little putting practice, then pulling out a meerschaum pipe for a minute, and then putting on a Mr. Rogers sweater. = -12pts 
  • A fluffy white cat named Blanche knocks over a photo of your dead mother... Foreshadow much? = +2pts. 
  • Constructing an unnerving homage to Benny Hill in which a beleaguered shop teacher (Mr. T0g0) gets his ass stuck in some kind of a bucket and falls down stairs for what seems like forever. = -18pts 
  • Best cartoon railroad trip to rural Japan ever. = +6pts 
  • Aside: these young ladies always look just about 5 seconds away from rubbing their boobs all over each other. = +1pt 
  • Weird silent film montage which takes care of all needed exposition within, like, 30 seconds? = +15pts (Steven Spielberg should take notes. But then again, Steven Spielberg should probably take notes from every movie that he hasn’t directed.) 
  • A Cheshire Cat-type character that turns out to be a washed-up sumo wrestler selling watermelons on the side of the road, so obviously tumescent at the sight of tender young flesh that he has to hold a panama hat over his junk? = -17pts 
  • The look on his face as the girls move along down the road to Gorgeous’ aunt’s slightly derelict mansion as an aside to the audience? “That’s a bad idea right there, folks” = -7pts 
  • All right, Gorgeous' elegant aunt is obviously a witch. You're not even trying to hide it. Good on you, Ôbayashi. That dog’ll hunt. = +16pts 
  • The piano covered in cobwebs, with missing, broken keys all over the place is somehow perfectly in tune. Is that, like, a ghost piano, then? = -40pts 
  • Mac, deliriously hungry, holds onto a watermelon she bought from the libidinous heavy-set fruit vendor like it's her insulin pump. = -14pts 
  • One girl: "What's a stove?" Other girl's reply: "A stove is a stove." Game. Set. And. Match. = -15pts 
  • It’s pointless to try and describe here just how hilarious/horrifying the portrait of Blanche the cat is. = -19pts (For robbing me of my words.) 
  • Fantasy goes to the well to draw out a watermelon they've lowered into it (for whatever reason) to find it transformed into the flying disembodied head of her dead friend, Mac, which promptly bites her in the ass. Mac’s delighted verdict: "Tasty!" = + 13pts 
  • Later, it’s just a watermelon in there again. NBD. = -7pts 
  • When you walk into a long-abandoned room to look for bedding, and the only thing to greet you is a creepy doll with white hair, the first question you ask it probably shouldn’t be, "Where's the bedding?" = +31pts 
  • Kung Fu, upon being attacked by flying apparently mult-jointed logs, promptly loses her skirt, presumably making her better at martial arts. = +25pts 
  • Naming the most badass of your troop of girls King Fu. = +5pts 
  • To celebrate the death of one of your niece’s friends, why not dance around with a skeleton while your cat sings and plays piano? FOREVER. = -17pts 
  • Also, first instance of keyboard cat in recorded history? = +23pts (We’re still looking that up) 
  • Don't don that haunted broach! Stay away from that cursed lipstick! Shit, shit, shit. Now the mirror's changing and—Great. Now you're on fire. Oh, good, now you're fine again. = -32pts 
  • Why are they skipping? Shouldn't they be scared? Why hasn't Kung Fu found a pair of pants to put on yet? = -17pts 
  • When you do a sequence where the doors and windows keep opening and closing, a couple seconds will usually suffice. = -5pts 
  • Musical segue about wearing silk dresses and being pretty and going to dance halls? Gorgeous is really living up to her name here. = -8pts 
  • Melody’s reaction when the ghost-piano goes full-on-technicolor and eats her fingers off? Genuinely thrilled. = +8pts 
  • Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dream Piano devouring Melody played for slapstick laughs? = +16pts 
  • Kung Fu not even getting phased upon seeing Melody’s severed fingers playing some super-twee melody on the ghost piano. = -17pts 
  • Gorgeous’ GIGANTIC FLOATING HEAD informs the surviving girls that she is in her aunt’s ghost-world now… And then her mouth lets them know that she has to eat them… By eating them. = +13pts 
  • Spending a decent chunk of this film’s budget for an extended sequence where blood is shooting from every conceivable part of this haunted house. = +6pts 
  • Intercutting this rainin’ blood (SLAYER!) with every remaining girl somehow losing all of her clothes. = -14pts 
  • Why the hell did Mr. Togo (Benny Hill devotee) turn into a pile of bananas? And when did that happen? = -20pts 
  • Why is Gorgeous’ new step-mom showing up to the haunted house? How the hell did she even know where it was? And why did Ôbayashi & co. switch to the G.E. Softlight® filter? Holey Moley! Gorgeous is now wearing her ghost aunt’s gown... I'd say you can guess how this is going to turn out but that would be a lie. = -20pts 
  • After all that bloodshed, it's nice to know they can finish up the credits with a joyful sequence that would feel right at home in Valtrex's next ad campaign. = +13pts. 
  • Lack of any actual or perceived tentacles. = -16pts.
Total Score =-178pts
Available On: Your Criterion DVD shelf, right in-between Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom and Armageddon.

Huh? Hold on a second… Yep, nothing makes sense anymore. This doesn’t even look like our house right now. Wait a minute. This *isn’t* even our house right now! What the frick could that giant, floating, disembodied teenage Asian girl’s head possibly want with me? Gotta go outside. Brb. [It saddens us to report that on February 26th, in the Year of Our Lord 2013, at approximately 9:15pm, Paul Bower shuffled off this mortal coil… Worth it? Totally.]

Score Technician: Paul Bower


  1. I can't seem to find this film on Netflix. Any Roku channels that might carry this gem?

  2. Hi, Mrs. Beiting! I'm honestly not sure. I think Paul watched during that weekend Criterion made its current collection available for free on Hulu. It should be available on DVD through Netflix, though.

    Sorry to be of absolutely no help!