Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hausu (House)

Friday night was a kickass night. Went to a Matthew Sweet concert. Had good food beforehand. And when I got home, TCM was showing a bunch of Japanese sci-fi and horror movies. I caught Mothra and H-Man, which I had seen before, but was really excited at seeing they were showing Hausu later on. I recorded it, as I had heard good things about its insanity. I wasn't disappointed.

 At its heart, the movie is about a group of girls who go to one of their aunt's house for vacation. The house is haunted and the girls are picked off one by one. Of course, that's a simple distillation and leaves out the important parts, like saying that whiskey is just a drink. Like that the movie really is bat shit insane. The best way to explain it is to say that its like a horror movie mixed with the Monkees and Evil Dead 2, or perhaps Dead Alive. There's just this energy and happiness that pervades the entire thing, even when people are getting eaten by pianos.

Maybe that has something to do with the dancing skeleton that pops up from time to time. Maybe it's because the girls are named after their traits, ie Gorgeous, Professor, Kung Fu, etc. Maybe it's the visual style, where almost every scene has a composited part. Hell, in one scene, the girls are standing in front of a background painting, which is in turn projected behind them.

 It's a wild ride, to be sure, but one well worth taking, especially if you're bored with most haunted house movies now. Made in 1977, Hausu was way ahead of its time. Its wacky, its gonzo and really freaking awesome. Check it out.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Essential Man-Thing Vol. 1

Essential Man-Thing, Vol. 1Essential Man-Thing, Vol. 1 by Roy Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always been a fan of Swamp Thing, but never really knew much about his counterpart in Marvel Comics, the Man-Thing. Both feature similar origins with a scientist, a secret formula and an accident that lead each of them to become monsters. However, while Swamp Thing is a little more man-like, Man-Thing is a little more monstrous. Indeed, he lacks any real higher brain functions and reacts to emotions, burning that with knows fear with his very touch.

I really enjoyed this first volume of Essential Man-Thing, that collects his early appearances and series. He's a very sad character, brought down by love and forced to live a lonely existence in the swamp, interacting very little with people. Unwittingly, he's often their savior, wandering into drama because of detecting emotions running wild and laying smack down on the bad guys who fear him because he looks so horrific. He fights gators, construction workers, devils, demons and more as he lumbers along through the muck. The stories and art are top-notch, and I often found myself wanting to read just one more story, especially the ones with Jennifer Kale, who I was aware of but not really familiar with her origins. It's some great stuff. Check it out.

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