Infamous Japanese whatsit "House" is the ultimate 1970s artifact. The animated opening recalls "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", while former ad man Nobuhiko Obayashi extends the anything-goes impression through freeze frames, painted backdrops, and old-timey flashbacks. He starts by introducing schoolgirls Fantasy (Kumiko Ohba) and Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) to groovy "H.R. Pufnstuf"-style music. Then Gorgeous's widowed father presents his new bride, Ryôko (Haruko Wanibuchi), who enters like Joan Crawford in a flowing white gown. Afterward, Gorgeous invites Fantasy, Melody, Kung Fu, Prof, Sweet, and Mac to her aunt's house for the summer. Little does she know that Ryôko plans to crash the party.
While they gather at the train station, the film slips into slapstick "Monkees" territory: a shoemaker croons as Fantasy's crush object, Mr. Tôgô (Kiyohiko Ozaki), trips over Gorgeous's green-eyed cat, Blanche. The girls make it to the country without incident, but the moment they arrive at the cobweb-covered estate, freaky things start happening: Auntie (Yôko Minamida) and Blanche, for instance, have met before. The ladies delight in the weirdness, enjoying a meal and exploring the grounds, but then Mac disappears. Auntie and Blanche, meanwhile, find novel ways to entertain themselves. Soon, mirrors are cracking, mattresses are flying, blood is flowing, and a piano goes berserk. There's only so much the girls can do, so they pin their hopes on Tôgô--and his sideburns--to set things right.
"House" arrives for the first time in the United States with a testimonial from "House of the Devil" director Ti West, who declares it "one of the most original films I've ever seen"; "Emotion", an experimental short; and a featurette in which Obayashi credits his daughter, Chigumi, for several plot points. Fans of "Carrie", "Suspiria", "The Evil Dead", and "Pee-Wee's Playhouse": meet your new cinematic obsession. "--Kathleen C. Fennessy"