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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Hausu')

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Japan 1977

 

How to describe Nobuhiko Obayashi’s indescribable 1977 movie House (Hausu)? As a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby-Doo as directed by Mario Bava? 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 and comes face-to-face with evil spirits, a demonic house cat, a bloodthirsty piano, and other ghoulish visions, all realized by Obayashi via mattes, animation, and collage effects. Equally absurd and nightmarish, House might have been beamed to Earth from some other planet.

***

An unforgettable mixture of bubblegum teen melodrama and grisly phantasmagoria, Obayashi's deranged fairy tale HOUSE is one of Japanese cinema's wildest supernatural ventures and a truly startling debut feature. Distressed by her widowed father's plans to remarry, Angel sets off with six of her schoolgirl friends in tow for a summer getaway in her aunt's isolated mansion. But all is not well - in this house of dormant secrets, long-held emotional traumas have terrifyingly physical embodiments and the girls will have to use all their individual talents if any are to survive. A rollercoaster ride without brakes, HOUSE is by turns sinister, hilarious and curiously touching, with ceaseless cinematic invention and a satirical, full-blooded approach to the horror genre. A gigantic smash upon its original release in Japan, the Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present its UK premiere on DVD NEW SPECIAL EDITION including: - New digital anamorphic widescreen transfer - An extensive 90-minute selection of interviews with director Nobuhiko Obayashi, co-screenwriter Chigumi Obayashi, actress Kumiko Oba and Toho promotional executive Shoho Tomiyama -Theatrical trailer - A luxurious booklet, with new writing, stills, promotional material and more.

Synopsis
This satirical murder mystery pits a woman who is the epitome of glamour (played by Haruko Wanibuchi) against a clever murderer during a holiday stay at a strange ghostly mansion. Seven young women, who have chosen as nicknames the brand-names of much-advertised consumer products, begin to disappear in a decidedly suspicious manner. It is up to the heroine to find out what is going on.

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 26th, 1977

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Comparison:

Eureka (Masters of Cinema) - Region 2 - NTSC vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Masters of Cinema - Region 2 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Eureka (Masters of Cinema) Spine # 93  - Region 2 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 539 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:29:00  1:27:58.314 
Video 1.55:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.76 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s  

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,163,089,724 bytes

Feature: 25,797,470,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: DVD

Bitrate: Criterion Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)  LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Production: Eureka

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.55:1

Edition Details:

• An extensive 90-minute selection of interviews with director Nobuhiko Obayashi, co-screenwriter Chigumi Obayashi, actress Kumiko Oba and Toho promotional executive Shoho Tomiyama
• Theatrical trailer
• A luxurious booklet, with new writing, stills, promotional material and more. 
 
DVD Release Date: January 25th, 2010

Keep Case
Chapters: 17

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,163,089,724 bytes

Feature: 25,797,470,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Edition Details:
• Constructing a “House,” a new video piece featuring interviews with director Nobuhiko Obayashi, story scenarist and daughter of the filmmaker Chigumi Obayashi, and screenwriter Chiho Katsura (45:56 in HD!)
Emotion, a 1966 experimental film by Obayashi (39:15 in HD!)
• New video appreciation by director Ti West (House of the Devil)
(3:47 in HD!)
• Theatrical trailer (1:34 in HD!)
• 28-page liner notes booklet with images and an essay by critic Chuck Stephens


Blu-ray Release Date:
October 26th, 2010
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 26

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray - October 2010: This new HD digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm low-contrast print struck from the original camera negative. It is dramatically different in appearance from the Master of Cinema DVD edition which is much thicker and contrast enhanced. The Criterion, dual-layered, Blu-ray shows far superior detail and grain is readily visible remaining even and consistent throughout. In a few instances color filters appear to change between the releases and I have no explanation. There is also some movement in the frame showing both to have some slight cropping in various scenes. Hopefully the screen captures will give you an idea of the differences.

Criterion have remastered, at 24-bit, from an optical track print to create lossless, linear PCM mono audio which is in the original Japanese language. There are effects and it may have been marginally crisper than the DVD - with a perceived depth with dialogue predictably flat. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

Extras consist of Constructing a “House,” a new 46-minute video piece featuring interviews with director Nobuhiko Obayashi, story scenarist and daughter of the filmmaker Chigumi Obayashi, and screenwriter Chiho Katsura. Also included is Emotion, a 1966 experimental film by Obayashi running just shy of 40-minutes. It is similarly 'out there' with plenty of cuts and interesting visuals. This is transferred in HD but is interlaced (1080i). There is a brief video appreciation by director Ti West running less than 4-minutes. He starts out stating that he considers Hausu one of the most original films he has ever seen. There is a 1 1/2 minute theatrical trailer and a 28-page liner notes booklet with images and an essay by critic Chuck Stephens.

My feelings about the film are exactly the same; "The visual playground of the characters on screen is delightfully artificial. This has an innocence that exudes 'cult status' from every orifice. With this Suzuki-esque plot, obviously not constrained by logic, we can easily give-over to it's charming squealing nubiles and addictive aura. The best word I can use to describe Hausu is <drum roll>....  'funky!' - and we whole-heartedly recommend! What a delight!". Although I might change my single word description to "Hip". Seeing it in the higher resolution was a treat and because it visually looks so different from the SD-DVD - it was almost like watching it for the first time. This Blu-ray has a special place in my library - fans of the unique + original have found their Holy Grail with Hausu - STRONGLY recommended!

***

ON THE MASTERS OF CINEMA DVD: Firstly this is a screener from The Masters of Cinema and I believe the dual-layered digital DVD disc to be an exact representation of what will be publicly available in January 2010. I am not yet privy to the booklet that will eventually be enclosed in the final package.

Secondly, whether it be my year-end mood or the amusingly bizarre nature of the film - regardless, this may have been by favorite viewings of the entire of 2009. It's the type of film experience that is so fun - you wish you could have that 'first time' viewing again - immediately. It's all over the board with techniques and bizarre, cheesy-looking, effects - but somehow it works exceedingly well.

This transfer is consistent with bright colors and stated as stemming from 'the Toho restoration'. Having never seen the film previously but being fully aware of Masters of Cinema's penchant for thoroughness - I won't question the naturalistic appearance. It's exceptionally grainy and textured producing an absolutely delightful presentation. The moderate haziness didn't deter my viewing one iota - and detail does shine in some close-ups. This is progressive and anamorphic transfer in the, unusual, 1.55 aspect ratio. I don't see any untoward manipulation and the image is very clean with a few speckles here and there. This is a solid transfer - just don't expect pristine visuals. The modestly budgeted first directorial feature of Obayashi 'looks'... as it 'looks'.

The clear 2.0 channel Japanese audio is unremarkable but close, I'll wager, to the way it was produced. Pressing 'Play' defaults with clear optional English subtitles.

There are a bunch of interviews as digital supplements on the disc. Almost 1.5 hour's worth of discussion, in Japanese with optional subtitles, with director Nobuhiko Obayashi, co-screenwriter Chigumi Obayashi, actress Kumiko Oba and Toho promotional executive Shoho Tomiyama. They cover the topics 'Beginnings', 'Pitch', 'Script', 'Pre-release', 'Publicity', 'Casting and Production', 'Fantasy' (the character), and 'Release and Legacy'. I was less interested in the sales/marketing aspects of Hausu but keen on the nostalgia. Director Obayashi talks about his career and what he remembers stating the production being '25-years ago' so the interviews may have been done in and around 2002. He brings up that the original idea was from his 12-year old daughter Chigumi Obayashi (who also plays the girl at a shoe store) and she reminisces about the film with him for a few minutes. Kumiko Ohba, who had done some further, but minor, acting looks beautiful in her brief 2-minute supplement interview. The booklet promises to be full of writings and promotional material that I looked forward to indulging in. Those familiar with MoC's 'cracker' liner notes companions know what to expect.

The visual playground of the characters on screen is delightfully artificial. This has an innocence that exudes 'cult status' from every orifice. With this Suzuki-esque plot, obviously not constrained by logic, we can easily give-over to it's charming squealing nubiles and addictive aura. The best word I can use to describe Hausu is <drum roll>....  'funky!' - and we whole-heartedly recommend! What a delight!     

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Masters of Cinema - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


Masters of Cinema - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

Masters of Cinema - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

Masters of Cinema - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Masters of Cinema - Region 2 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Eureka (Masters of Cinema) Spine # 93  - Region 2 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 539 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



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