Marvelous Movie Mondays: House
EPFC | May 14th, 2019
guest curator: Karen Azoulay
For the month of May, I will be posting a selection of films that are punctuated with floral and bomb imagery. Flowers can be used to remind us of vulnerability, mortality and the fleeting nature of time. This motif is paired with the brief and the sudden depiction of a bomb. A blooming mushroom cloud clearly evokes war, fear and death. Contextualizing the films within a specific historical moment and place, we cannot forget the political reality that each film was created in.
My second selection is ‘House’, 1977, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
“a modern masterpiece of le cinéma du WTF?!”
-Chuck Stephens, from his essay for The Criterion Collection
‘House’ is an extreme work of psychedelic horror. This experimental film follows seven teenage girls on a trip to visit one their aunts. Visually stunning, the gory depictions of dismemberment are more ridiculously surreal than scary. It’s not surprising to learn that Obayashi’s eleven year old daughter came up with most of the violent plot twists.
Although it is refreshing and rare for a movie to be almost entirely comprised of female actors, the one-dimensional characters are unfortunately sexualized in a realm of school girl exploitation.
On the train out of town, the main character regales her giggling pals with the backstory of her aunt. In a short flashback sequence, we see her narration come to life in the frames of black and white film strips. A tragic love story from the 40s, it suggests an ominous tone for the haunted home they are about to experience. This greyscale sequence is interrupted with two pops of red; a foreboding draft card, and a wilting, thorny rose that draws drips of blood. As with the rest of my selections this month, flower symbolism is paired with the explosion of a bomb. A Hiroshima native, the director lost most of his friends to the blast.
The clip below is an excerpt of this scene. I recommend tracking down the full feature for the demonic insanity that follows.