Sunday, October 9, 2016

Horror Host in the House

Well, it's horror season chez Spenser. It starts with Ms. Spenser's birthday in late Sep, and goes through Halloween. Here's a double bill we kicked off with.

House (1977) is a surrealistic Japanese oddity. It's about 7 Japanese schoolgirls who visit the aunt of one of their number in a spooky house - and they begin to die one after another.

But that gives you no idea of what it is like. And that is hard to describe, except totally nuts. The girls, for instance, all go by nicknames: Gorgeous, Fanta (short for Fantasy), Prof (the studious one), Melody, Kung Fu, Sweet, and Mac (always eating - Big Mac?). They giggle and hug each other and sing songs with Melody, the musical one. They maintain this cute (kawaii) act even while they are being killed off. Their heart-throb is a teacher (played by Kiyohiko Ozaki, a Japanese enka/country singer) who wears big sideburns and drives a dune buggy. Gorgeous' father has remarried, a beautiful woman always seen in slo-mo surrounded by floating scarves.

The special effects and deaths are done in the crudest style, a combination of budget limitations and camp. Like when Melody gets eaten by the piano (SPOILER), one of the girls scolds her for showing her panties.

The soundtrack includes some psychedelic stuff by popular Japanese band Go-Diego. Gorgeous' dad writes film music and says at one point that Sergio (Leone) thinks he's better than Ennio (Morricone). So we're supposed to pay attention there.

Anyway, this is more of a comedy - with a pretty steep body count. When it was over, Ms. Spenser told me, "You owe me a horror movie."

So, we watched Korean monster movie, The Host (2006). This is much easier to describe - a hrrobile monster comes out of the river in Seoul, and wreaks havoc. It is seen from the viewpoint of a Korean family that runs a little snack shop by the river. It's run by an old man and his adult, but not very bright son ("He didn't get enough protein when he was young"), and the son's sweet grade school daughter. The old man's other son is a jobless college graduate, his daughter is an Olympic archer. This family is almost the set up for a comedy, with the witless son offering his daughter a beer to celebrate her aunt's Olympic trials. But then the monster erupts.

It's a great monster, kind of like a weaponized tadpole. It likes to hang from bridge infrastructure by its tail and slither into the water. It gulps people down and spits them out, or carries them away in its tail. There's some very gruesome stuff here.

It also has a great look - almost like a documentary of the Seoul urban riverside, with bridges, overpasses, sewers, and parks. The CGI monster looks great and fits right in. Altogether a superior monster movie with a touch of humor and social commentary. So Ms. Spenser was satisfied.

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