Brockway: If you’re talking weird horror flicks, somebody will inevitably say you have to see Hausu, the 1977 Japanese haunted house movie that confused and aroused Americans with screamed gibberish and panty shots long before Sailor Moon made it cool. I’ve actually never seen it, probably because I’m an obstinate shithead who immediately doesn’t want to do things you tell me to. Seanbaby’s never even heard of it, probably because he’s been slapboxing juiced-up kangaroos in the secret backroom arena behind a Thai boathouse bar for 3,000 baht a night. So this Halloween, we’re going to watch it together.
Only I’m going to replace the subtitles with a cheap Chinese bootleg version because I’m still an obstinate shithead who immediately doesn’t want to do things you tell me to.
Seanbaby: When I was in Japanese class I learned the word for “house” is “ie” and not “hausu.” This implies that before they made this movie it had never occurred to Japan to give a name to the things they lived in. The working title of Hausu was probably “the… I don’t know, wooden caves for resting and foods? What does the USA call these? Hooowszz? I can’t be saying that shit right.” Thousands of years of civilization and it took 1977’s Hausu to reveal this vocabulary oversight? That’s my contribution to the intro– half a Gallagher joke smeared across four sentences. Welcome to whatever the fuck Hausu is!
Brockway: Maybe you heard “made in 1977” and thought Japan worked differently back then, so as insane as it seems to even specify this: Hausu is about a group of cute schoolgirls. The main pair are ‘Beauty’ and ‘Fantasy,’ nicknames too spot-on for even the remedial strippers. Beauty is also called The Gorgeous, Magnificent, or sometimes just “Great” — like they’re fucking sick of sucking up to her. While Fantasy’s only nickname seems to be ‘fiction,’ and that might just be an artifact of the terrible translation, but it sounds amazingly sarcastic.
Seanbaby: They named the little girl “Fantasy?” Is this art or a confession? Here’s a fun Hausu fact– If you’re a sex offender and you name your fictional Japanese schoolgirl “Fantasy,” that legally fulfills your obligation of informing the community of your criminal perversion.
Brockway: No, silly, it’s because she’s always day-dreaming about romance! She wasn’t conceived for perversion — it’s only a coincidence that she’s going to get molested by ghosts.
Our other main character, Beauty, basically only exists to look good and say really obvious shit, because there’s a reason they don’t call her Brains.
Brockway: You’re lucky you got those looks to fall back on, The Gorgeous. You’re going to need several knights in shining armor just to save you from accidentally hanging yourself in the window blinds.
Seanbaby: “So it’s a horror movie about a, buhh… okay, you know those box shapes we inhabit with our families? Right, one of those. And the main character is an amateur stove philosopher named The Gorgeous. I am bleeding out of my skull, but that’s not part of the pitch.”
Brockway: That teacher looks like she’s racistly making fun of Run DMC.
Seanbaby: “I understand. Am I your father?” is the most useful Japanese phrase I ever learned. It’s second only to, “I ask because of my fertile, adventurous sperm but also because whoever your father is named you Fantasy and that sounds like a terrible mistake in judgement I would make.“
Brockway: As you might expect, this movie about naughty schoolgirls has some daddy issues. As you might not expect, they all involve not knowing what a father is. Here’s Beauty going through her old photos.
Brockway: Let’s meet the rest of the girls!
Seanbaby: I think my attention span is at capacity with the first two, but fine.
Brockway: We’ve got: Professor the Nerd, Mac the Fatty, Melody the girl who always brings an acoustic guitar no matter how inappropriate the moment, and Default. If she has a name, she was being too boring for me to catch it.
Not included in the above shot was Kung Fu, because she’s too fucking rad and deserves better:
Seanbaby: All of these characters are getting thrown at us in ways I have no visual language to understand. Every shot and edit feels like seventy exhausting decisions made by a madman determined to use every last effect on his Video Toaster. The actors seem like robots who have had several very important functions removed, like the screenwriter called for them to do something confusing and inhuman and then died before anyone could ask him what the fuck he meant. I am choosing these words carefully: each sequence in Hausu looks like a therapist hired a Mexican public access show to recreate G-rated versions of a pervert’s nightmares.
Brockway: You’re closer than you realize! Most of these girls had never acted before. Some could argue they still haven’t.
Anyway, these subtitles are my favorite amount of wrong: Coherent enough to get across what’s going on in a scene, but shitty enough so it sounds like everybody is drunk all the time.
Brockway: Also, somehow “good!” frequently gets translated as “Large!” and I say we start that shit right fucking now.
Seanbaby: Large idea! In fact, better than large– great!
Brockway: The movie is just packed with brief, random strangeness…
Those cowboys are never acknowledged, and play no part in this movie. They were barely even filmed — they’re just here to throw you off balance. That is some weird Japanese David Lynch shit, and I feel like every word of that description is redundant.
Seanbaby: I love how we have no way of knowing which insanity is on purpose. This could be the result of weeks of casting and costume design or it could be the script supervisor’s super cool real USA cowboy friends. Maybe the Japanese film union requires at least two kangaroo murderers on set? All I know is that when the ghosts show up I’m almost certainly going to be distracted by some child magician in the background stuffing ice cream into a mailbox.
Brockway: Yeah, I don’t know why any of this is the way it is. I’m not sure if the makers of Hausu were going for a specific aesthetic, or if they just didn’t have access to “outside,” but every other scene is filmed against a matte painting.
Seanbaby: Wait, in 1977 the Japanese language had two gendered words for TRAIN but not a single one for “house?”
Brockway: There are so many shots of uncertain young Japanese girls wandering around static images that it feels like a porn mod of Resident Evil. Hausu is made too well to call this unintentional. I’m sure it’s like how Kubrick filmed the Overlook in The Shining so the layout wouldn’t make sense to the audience, thus keeping them subtly unsettled. Only here it’s like the schoolgirls don’t fully belong to the world, so you’ll always question the integrity of their panties.
Seanbaby: To follow up my earlier point– in 1977, the Japanese language had 1236 words for schoolgirl panties. The word you’re looking for, “worn for eight hours with uncertain integrity and existential doubt underpants,” is kangaru-satsujin.
Brockway: Oh, also everybody is stoned in an aquarium.
Seanbaby: Yeah, everyone delivers their lines like they’re the last words of astronauts realizing it could be worse than suffocating out here in space with their best friends.
Brockway: All right, let’s get to the plot! Beauty’s father is savagely disco, and he brings back a new girlfriend and seriously introduces her to his daughter like this:
I’m not sure he even knows her name. When pressed, he just explains:
“Ahhh… what else? She’s got good tits, she doesn’t talk much. Did I mention the cooking thing? Did I mention the tits thing?”
Seanbaby: According to the subtitles, when the dad introduces her he says “I’m Ryouko Ryouko.” So if she takes his name, that would make her at least one Ryouko, but also possibly three if her first name is Ryouko and those two Ryoukos he mentioned were his last name. For instance, if his full name was Tyler Ryouko Ryouko and she was named Ryouko Ryouko, that would make her married name “Mrs. Ryouko Four Times,” or “Mrs. Ryouko Three Times” for short.
Brockway: If you know anything about teenage girls, it’s that they don’t take things well. Clearly Beauty is not happy with Ryouko³. Plus the girls’ big trip is cancelled when their summer camp either shuts down or is getting married; the subtitles are unclear. But thanks to a magic cat, Beauty remembers she has an aunt with a house in the country. The magic cat is not a fluke of the subtitles…
The magic cat is very important to the plot of the movie, for reasons I do not and possibly never will understand.
Seanbaby: I don’t know if this will help, but Mac, I’m surprised by your stomach code.
Brockway: It does help distract me from the last weird shit that just happened, yes. I believe they call this method of filmmaking ‘Bizarro Barrage’ — where you just keep throwing incomprehensible scenes at an audience until they give up entirely, and will accept any magic cat or cursed panty you have to offer.
Okay, so we come to find out that Beauty’s aunt has been shut up in her home since her fiance died in the war, and Beauty hasn’t seen her in years. In fact, she searches her mind for any memory of the woman, and only comes up with this:
Dang, I don’t know about aunt, either. That face is either ‘barely concealed madness’ or ‘doing kegels right now, and have no plans to stop even if you call me out for it.’ It might be both. Actually, it has to be both.
Seanbaby: Oh, shit! Hazy memory kegel lady is holding the cat! I think I’m starting to piece this together! Remember when it was on the train and wouldn’t eat the hamburger? It’s the key to everything:
Brockway: I don’t know. Remember the cowboys? There is simply no way to tell what nonsense is vital, and what’s just for fun. For example: The girls are supposed to be chaperoned by Togo, who is just the best. He’s got a dune buggy and a stupid hat, and he’s also the only character that lives in a Benny Hill sketch:
He took that bucket to the ass so fucking hard he has to go to the hospital for it.
And that’s why Togo isn’t in the rest of the movie: Assbucket complications. Is that… is that vital? Do I need to remember that? Is that cowboy or cat?
Seanbaby: To call this a shift in tone would be like calling Wild-Runnin’ Hulkamania a mild paradigm shift in a staged conflict. This is a film editor’s complete mental breakdown over the course of months condensed into fifteen seconds of deranged whimsy. Or it’s the work of a filmmaking genius demonstrating how even the silly is no haven from terror in the universe of Hausu? I guess my point is I still can’t tell if this avalanche of crazy bullshit was caused on purpose.
Brockway: I’m already accepting it. The Bizarro Barrage is working.
So the girls arrive, alone, to the house of a stranger they already don’t trust and find it completely, obviously haunted. They fucking love it.
That doesn’t just look haunted, it looks like shit. What about that is enticing to a teenage girl on summer vacation? The only reason these girls could possibly be excited is because they know this is a Japanese horror movie and some of the ghosts might have tentacles.
Seanbaby: This house is where you go to die when you know you don’t deserve the dignity of choking yourself to death masturbating in a drainage pipe. This place fucking sucks. The first thing I’d say to a ghost haunting this shit hole is, “Oh, man. I’m sor– no I’m not! GHOST PUNCH!”
Dang, I don’t know about aunt!
Seanbaby: That’s that hamburger cat from the train! This is a storytelling technique called “Chekhov’s Burger Cat in Wheelchair” It’s one of those things where once you know about it, you’ll start seeing it everywhere.
Brockway: Yeah, there is some truly advanced filmmaking going on here. Like this strangely angled shot where the girls first see the inside of Hausu, which is dark, rotting, and covered in cobwebs and again, they absolutely love it.
They cannot wait to die in this place.
Seanbaby: “Fellow teens, I am content with this godless spider nest screaming into our minds.”
Brockway: Immediately the lighting fixtures try to murder the girls, but they can’t because Kung Fu is immune to dying to stupid shit.
And nobody cares that within seconds of stepping into this cursed house, it tries to murder them. They literally don’t even mention it. I mean, I guess if I had Kung Fu with me I probably wouldn’t give a hot god damn about deadly lamps and other lame murderers either. Here’s how Kung Fu opens a stuck cabinet:
When you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. To Kung Fu, every ghost looks like an un-kicked face and all Kung Fu has is Jumpkick.
Seanbaby: Kung Fu and Ass-Medically-Fused-With-Bucket Guy are definitely relics from earlier drafts of the script where this movie was completely different genres. I wouldn’t be surprised if we meet a ghost who is a leftover ass-eating character from when this was a porno called “Large Place For Sleeping (Sorry No Word For It) Filled With Ass Eaters: Yummy Part IV.”
Brockway: Sean, as usual, you are right in a way which you will come to regret. Later — and I think there might be some foreshadowing here, see if you spot it — Mac the Fatty is lowering a watermelon down into a well to keep it cool, when aunt looks her up and down and says…
You guys, I just don’t know about aunt!
Seanbaby: The character of aunt makes more sense when you realize she was originally written as a blind, horny salaryman. He’d say things like, “I can hear your moist butt!” and “Who’s that using the watermelon crank? Vavoom, oink, you smell hot as fuck!” Are these jokes? I’m worried I might have lost my mind.
Brockway: No, you’re on the exact wavelength of the movie. Check this out: That evening, when Fantasy goes to fetch the watermelon, she instead finds Mac’s disembodied head! Which…
Yes, flies through the air and bites her straight on the ass. We told you there would be assplay ghosts! These girls know exactly what they’re doing, coming to Hausu. They might even be taking advantage of Hausu. I don’t know how many times I need to say this: Don’t use Hausu ghosts for anal pleasure, Japanese schoolgirls.
Seanbaby: Yes! If you’re all by yourself with a watermelon in the middle of the night, it’s better than a best-case-scenario if it turns out to be a ghost head that eats your ass out. This situation she’s in is like reaching for your jerking belt in a drainage pipe and finding a loving wife to grow old with.
Brockway: Fantasy narrowly escapes the ghost analingus, presumably after cumming and making it feel weird about the whole situation, then fetches the other girls. Of course, when they go to check it’s back to being a watermelon. But Mac is missing! Not to worry — one of the girls found loose potatoes on the road, and supposes that Fatty left because Fatty likes potatoes.
Look at this fat piece of shit. You were right to shame this girl, Japan.
Seanbaby: Maybe I have gone crazy from trying to figure out this movie, but I will never write a fat joke as incoherent as, “Look at those loose potatoes! I guess we have a lead suspect in the disappearance of the fat girl! Ha ha ha!”
Brockway: It’s classic backwards irony, you fool: because she makes potatoes gone, more potatoes mean she is gone.
Seanbaby: So how do they track their fat friend during non-suspicious circumstances? By going where potatoes are missing? Do you detect that by cross referencing current potato levels with a well-kept database or do you need some kind of trained animal? For instance, “Girls! My potato falcon says there are only 11 potatoes northwest of us! That’s where Fatty will be.” Wait, hold on, yes. Now I’m very sure I’m losing my mind. Go on without me for a minute.
Soon, the other girls start disappearing to ironically spooky shenanigans as well. Beauty falls to her own vanity, and gets spooked the fuck up while admiring herself in the mirror:
Seanbaby: So the mirror contains a ghost and the aunt, and it gets shattered by eyebeams from Burger Cat, who is somewhere else? Then Beauty’s skin cracks until she’s an energy monster, and now we’re just in a Def Leppard video. I think I’m okay– this is my comfort zone.
Brockway: Welcome back. Default is getting attacked by bedding:
Because, no shit, she likes to clean bedding. If I met an ironic ghost and it was like “uh… I guess you like pillows? I’ll kill you with pillows.” I would beg — I would absolutely, open-sobbing, no-dignity plead for it to beat me to death with dildos instead, just so somebody would at least giggle at my obituary.
Seanbaby: “As we mourn our friend, Default, take comfort knowing she died how she lived… with something about pillows.”
Brockway: Then the house goes after Kung Fu… with haunted pieces of wood. That’s literally what she’s been training for all her life! That’s like going after Steven Seagal with an endless chili bar or a woman too drugged to give consent.
Kung Fu was expecting this moment so hard she doesn’t even realize it’s an attempted haunting. She jumpkicks straight out of her own dress, catches it, then throws it away forever. You can’t pay her to put clothes on again, because Hausu just realized it was behind on the panty quota. There will now be panties in every single scene.
Seanbaby: I can make a case for why that’s terrible in two screenshots.
Brockway: Terrible? No, I think you just sold copies of this movie to our forty-six greasiest fans.
StinkHunter Doug: Yeah, give me those gooey panties; oh no, how did that show up here?
Seanbaby: Thank you for your support, Stinkhunter Doug! At our highest patron level you get to write a line in a real 1-900-HOTDOG article! Is that not the one you wanted to use?
Stinkhunter Doug: …
Stinkhunter Doug: !?
Seanbaby: The deal was you got one line, Doug. Shut the fuck up.
Stinkhunter Doug: !!!
Brockway: You did great, Doug! ♫ 1🌭900🌭HOT🌭DOG♫
Back to the movie: So three of their friends are missing or dead, or missing or dead without panties, but the girls aren’t worried, because they know Togo is coming soon:
Kung Fu has been beating this ghost like it owes her money since the moment she walked in the door, but you’re holding out for a hero in Mr. Assbucket? The guy who’s the only patient in the Shenanigans Trauma Unit (Ass Ward)?
Seanbaby: I think the advantage Togo has in a house haunted by an ironic ghost is that you can’t ironically kill a man who lives his life getting humiliated with his own ass. What are you going to do, squeeze his butt to death with a bucket? Fate already did that the moment he bumbled through the front door! You’re only adding spectral buckets to a stack of regular buckets! That’s not fucking anything, ghost.
Brockway: Turns out Beauty is not dead, but has been possessed by the aunt, who leaves the girls trapped in the house. In a stunning bout of self-awareness, Fantasy says “this is a horror movie!” And Kung Fu corrects her: “No, this is a karate movie,” she says, then she kicks the shit out of the walls. It doesn’t work, but it’s completely large.
The other girls decide that a piano song will cheer them right up, because Melody hasn’t done anything in a while and it’s starting to get weird that she’s still in the movie. Of course, the piano eats her fingers. If you’re trapped in a haunted house and your friends are dying ironically but you love the hula hoop, just put off hooping for the night or you will obviously be turned into the hoop yourself and get hula’d into a bloody mist. But more importantly, here’s my favorite character in Hausu: wacky dancing skeleton.
Seanbaby: Wacky dancing skeleton rules. He’s a naked, spaghetti-covered toddler strutting into a zoom meeting– just a pointless wrongness commanding everyone’s attention. In 1977, getting a girl’s fingers to fade into invisible meat chunks was a Herculean effort of animation, and he’s back there distracting everyone from it with, “Rahr rahr rahr, I’M A SKELETON!”
Brockway: Here’s your child magician stuffing ice cream into a mailbox. You really get what this movie is putting down.
Seanbaby: I was acting like I was better than it, but Hausu and I have been on the exact same wavelength this whole time.
Brockway: I have this theory that any horror scene which goes on too long turns into a fetish. I came up with this theory while watching Hausu, and all the proof I will ever need for this theory is Hausu. I’m not even kidding, Hausu owns it:
Seanbaby: This is going to really screw up the accuracy of my “Recommended CamGirls” but let me see if you’re right.
Only 1153 relevant results? Those are barely clown puke numbers. Those are barely deepfake Angela Lansbury feet puke numbers. Wait, hold on. I had the keyword wrong. This fetish is called “dismember concerto” and oh man… okay, now I’m getting some search results. Whoa, hot, they’re not brother and sister in this one. I’ll send this link over in Slack.
Brockway: Not brother and sister? What are they, then? Cousins? That’s okay, I guess. For a Sunday wank. When God’s watching.
Finally the house stops being cute with all the irony and just starts throwing everything it has at the remaining girls. All the big, classic scares are here. They fight floating objects:
Seanbaby: Jesus, they are so fucked.
Brockway: The dreaded Big lips…
Seanbaby: They have to fight Big lips? I don’t even know what I’d say if I had to fight Big lips.
Brockway: And worst of all: Lamp.
Yes, as you can tell by the battle panties, that’s Kung Fu being undone by her one weakness: Lamp.
Seanbaby: I would have never guessed from the first 40 minutes that this is the best movie ever made. This is like an ape falling backwards into a snowblower and spraying Matisse’s The Dessert: Harmony in Red onto your driveway.
Brockway: It is a beautiful shame. Like a Juggalo ballerina.
Kung Fu is banished to The Unhappy Disembodied Girl Parts Fetish Dimension. In Japanese, that translates as one word. A short word.
Seanbaby: The word can change depending on whether the dismembered girl is unhappy from a broken heart or regret. Aside from describing places where people live, Japanese is a very rich and descriptive language.
Brockway: But if you thought being only an ass was enough to stop Kung Fu, you were not paying enough attention to Kung Fu’s ass. You would know it don’t quit.
A literally-topless flying jumpkick from the lamp dimension into a cat painting turns out to be the bride’s one weakness — of course!
Seanbaby: This is fucking sweet.
Brockway: The jumpkick doesn’t kill the bride, but it does break the logical coherence of the movie. Apparently it had that! Professor is eaten by a floating piggy bank after the house floods with cat blood.
Then she comes back so we can see her tits a bunch:
Then she dies, so we can instead see Great’s tits a bunch:
Finally Fantasy nestles into her best friend’s aunt’s ghost-tits:
And that’s sort of the movie.
Seanbaby: I have nothing meaningful to add other than your Twitter handle so the Pulitzer mayor can tag you when he announces you won: @brockway_llc.
Brockway: You’re missing an ‘L’ in Pullitzer.
Seanbaby: Well, I can just look that up.
Brockway: Hausu keeps going for a bit, doing your standard “the curse is not over” sequel setup. The stepmother who always looks like she’s on her way from a shampoo commercial to a tampon commercial…
Comes to the house to check in, and finds it revitalized. The aunt — now living in the body of Beauty — greets her, and the cycle begins anew.
Oh, and Togo turns into a bunch of bananas in a dune buggy, as his character arc demanded.
Seanbaby: Is this like some Japanese folklore I haven’t heard of? Well, I can just look that up too. Oh no, this looks b