Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hausu Calls.

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.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Plastic Purge-ry.

So, as I was saying ...

A few days ago, I was filling up my tank when a dude in his 60s offered me $200 to show him my goods. This was the culmination of a seemingly pedestrian inquiry about how to get to Huntington Beach, which was nowhere near us, and even farther away from my boobs in terms of the question itself. But, money is money and the offer was extremely flattering, so I slowly peeled off my blouse kindly thanked the man (who was now begging), got in my car and laughed all the way to work. I stopped laughing when I got to work and relayed the incident to my friends, who all thought I should've been offered way more.

He wasn't talking about Phantasm, you nard.
Well shit, I replied, I'm over the hill; this is called depreciation. Is it any surprise that Oprah started preaching about gratitude on her stupid show after she turned 40? Because this is the point where we become the Lexus you lease instead of the Rolls that you buy. I'm just happy to be breathing and even happier that the sins of my previous decades didn't land me in prison or Cliffside Malibu. But who knows; maybe if I was 20, I would've still been offered that $200, except with a Frappuccino from the Starbucks across the street. This guy had just gotten off of a bus, after all.

I promise all of this is getting to a point--point being, that no matter how much time passes, the value of everything, even things that supposedly carry exponential value, is subjective. We place such a high value on classic horror films, like Halloween, Black Christmas and Friday the 13th, and yet each film has been remade. Somewhere in the timeline, it was decided that the value of these films lay exclusively in their names and motifs. To say anything else would be dishonest; otherwise, why aren't we remaking House of the Dead? Why aren't we "reimagining" Motel Hell? Because not enough people know about the latter, and no one wants to admit to having seen the former. And let's not forget TV .. The Exorcist ... Bates Motel ... this is how the studios remake shit without the fanboys losing theirs. It's having your cake and eating it, too (a stupid phrase; wtf is cake for if not to eat it?). It's almost as dishonest as remaking Star Wars and calling it The Force Awakens.

And now we're remaking It. We're remaking Suspiria. The argument that the original It warrants a remake is fair, in defense of those who truly hate it and don't care that Tim Curry is the gatekeeper and the key master. But Suspiria. Without the color. Without the Goblin. Without the everything that makes it so classic, if not so great. Why do films even get remade in the first place? Because studios finally cotton on to a film being a lifer, worthy of their attention, hallelujah and blessed be the baby Jesus? We never needed their validation. Because directors finally have access to the technology they wish they had the first time around? So much for the legacies of Vercoutere, or Harryhausen, or Savini. Because a "fan" in a position of power decides they love a film so much, they want to distill it down to a name, with their ideas attached to it? We already have something for that; it's called fan fiction.

Oh, and then you've got those who think we need these remakes. I'm going to guess most of them were likely not around for the originals and cannot comprehend their importance in the pop cultural landscape. They'll tell you to not get so "butt hurt" or "titty slapped" or "pussy pounded" or whatever other stupid insult they can wank out before moving on to the next thing. And they can say what they want. It's all bullshit. Suspiria is the beautiful girlfriend your parents introduce you to, but you ignore her to chase the hot stripper with the fake boobs at Spearmint Rhino, also named Suspiria. Of course, she'll take your money, but like every newer model, you won't get much else. Just be sure to put aside enough for the bus fare while you figure out a way to get back to Huntington Beach.