Weird Films of the 1970s Presents House (1977)


At that level, a hit movie about shark attacks
leads to a movie about bear attacks. 
That’s the best they can do.

This is not a film you have to “see to believe.”  You will see this film, and still you will not believe it.  We’ve watched some odd films this quarter.  This one, our last in this winter run, cannot be called “odd” or “weird.”  It has no adequate adjectives, and it exists in a realm where natural light does not shine, where everything glitters soft, where pianos eat girls, where a theme song gets stuck on repeat, where landscapes open inward like double doors, where faces break like mirrors and there is fire beneath.
Criterion, responsible for its recent DVD release, states that it is a “psychedelic ghost tale” that “might have been beamed to Earth from some other planet.” That’s about right.  But more accurately, it is an strangely pure cinema of effects and techniques, craft gone wild.  It’s a joyous hijacking of all the tricks of the advertising trade, given a big enough budget to fully let loose not what comes from outside but from inside, the deep madness barely restrained by the conventions of profit-making.  What results is a manic goofiness so profound it becomes sinister, and a shuddering collapse of the gap between the sublime and the moronic.  We see, at the same moment, one of the better sunsets committed to film and a severed head flying through the air to bite the ass of her friend.  It is gorgeous and cheap, a profound gag, and the anarchic giggling of an unhinged ludic impulse which asks, in deadly seriousness: actually, what can  film do that other media cannot?
Also, you will see a painting of a fluffy white cat named Blanche vomit enough blood to flood a house.

Tuesday, March 8
Stevenson 150, 8 PM

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