Last week, when I was whining about Suspiria being remade, it dawned on me that another, (dare I say) even more awesome, visually striking and far-out film came out the same year: Hausu. Surely everybody and their sobo has seen this film by now, thanks to word of mouth, YouTube spirals and repeats on TCM. Janus reintroduced us to the film in the last decade, and through The Criterion Collection, graced us with the most current versions we have today on Blu-ray and DVD. When I last checked, it was also available on Hulu, but nothing lasts forever. Okay?
Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, Hausu was supposed to be Japan's response to Jaws, but like anything a teenage girl gets her hands on, it turned out more like a Bay City Roller's wet dream after a post-gig sake bender in Tokyo. The teenage girl being, in this case, Nobuhiko-san's daughter—who, quite honestly—must've been some kind of a rock star herself to have dreamed up a stonker of an idea that gives the kids nearly 90 minutes of reefer madness. Hey, didn't Daria Nicolodi also sort of dream up Suspiria? Proof that I'm doing life all wrong when I should be spending most of it on Ambien.
Now, I'm not going to give you a plot synopsis, and I'm not going to BFI or New York Times you to death about why Hausu is a classic. I'm just going to run down why I love it a tad over Suspiria. For one thing, the plot is a bit more linear. And I love Suspiria—I love it, alright? I love it—but you're going to see for yourself in the remake why we needed all the bells and whistles in the original. Because if you take all the goodies away, you are left to wonder about a few things. What does Suzy have to do with anything? She just basically crashes a murder party at a dance academy in Germany, but somehow she's integral to the plot because Pat says something about an iris? Why is Pat so special? Why an iris? Because they look lovely on wallpaper? Whaaa? And then you have a coven running the academy, but then they're killing off their own dancers? Witches be crazy. But I only see one person doing all the killing. Who's killing? Somebody help me. Then Udo Kier shows up, looking hot. We get a killer dog. We get maggots. And finally, Argento sets everything on fire, which apparently he loves doing since he does it again three years later and is like fuck it, I love fire, I'm just going to call this Inferno. And a Suspiria remake with a plot that supposedly will actually make a lot more sense is just an entirely different film altogether, but with the same name. So, not Suspiria.
No one in Japan is going to remake Hausu. For one thing, the Japanese don't play that shit. They remade two films of ours, and neither one was a horror film (Ghost is not a horror film, unless you fear making clay pottery). And if we get our American hands on it and recast with chicks from the CW, the purists don't play that shit. Because this year's Ghost in the Shell turned out so well. Yeah, I don't care if technically, Motoko can be anything, i.e., not particularly Asian. Fine, she can be a white woman. She can be a slice of pizza. She can be a rock, an island. A can of Diet Tab. Hausu will never. be. remade. They'll remake Battle Royale first. Oh.
Yes, Ringu was remade. Yes, The Grudge was remade. And Pulse, and One Missed Call, and ... fine, but we remade these films. Yes, in some cases the original people (in The Grudge's case, director Takashi Shimizu) were involved in the remakes. But Asia didn't ask for them, so Asia didn't remake them. I guess you could transfer those ideas to American aesthetics, but who in hell is going to remake a film about a group of young schoolgirls with nicknames that sound like a lineup out of Urban Decay cosmetics, who visit a hungry old aunt and all jigoku breaks loose? How do we include the white cat called Blanche, the delicious-looking watermelon, the rich dad whose film scores apparently beat the shit out of Morricone's? The dancing severed piano fingers? The Godiego? The nudity? The badassery that is the greatest film character of all time—Kung Fu? So much happens in Hausu that we can't explain, but at least we know what is going on. And all of it is untouchable.