Movie Review – House, 1977

House takes the cake for the absolute weirdest movie I’ve ever seen – and it is so extremely entertaining the whole time.

I don’t know what to say about this film – I couldn’t tell you what it’s about, I can’t even really describe the plot with any kind of sensible accuracy, nor could I give an account of any of the character’s arcs. This movie is just a thing that is happening, and it is always happening, vacillating between wildly different tones, often within seconds of one another, all while blending every visual effect possible at the time into as many frames as possible. It’s funny, it’s gory, it’s musical, and it’s pretty action packed. It’s nearly everything you could want in a movie, but presented through a lens of pure psychedelic lunacy.

As far as the describable details go, the death scenes are all really cool, both for the way they’re achieved as well as their central concepts. The music is often anachronistic, and repeated so often it becomes a true ear worm and hasn’t left me yet. But it’s good music, I generally liked a lot of it, especially Kung Fu’s theme. Which brings me to Kung Fu, who stole the movie for me and immediately jumped into my personal pantheon of great film characters. Everything she does in this is awesome, and it’s all put together in really awesome ways. Also, her character’s name is Kung Fu. Although that’s not that weird in a movie where every one of the lead girls is just named for who she is or what she does. Gorgeous (the hot one), Melody (the musical one), Kung Fu (the one that inexplicably knows kung fu), Mac (because what else would you name the fat one?), etc.

House is so wall-to-wall wild that when a man turns into a pile of bananas during the climax, you’re no longer even asking “Why?” anymore, you’re just along for the ride. That’s actually probably the most accurate description I can think of – this movie is like those creepy haunted/fun house rides where you get in a little metal pod and get thrown around sharp turns as lights flash and skeletons dance, your rib cage smashing into the lap bar with every jolt.

After finishing the movie, I was talking with a friend about it and we agreed it’s very unclear what the “point” of this movie is. I’m not sure if it’s trying to be funny, if it’s trying to be scary, if it’s trying to do both, if it isn’t trying to do either, if it’s actually just a love story as the final lines of the movie want us to believe. The intent is so unclear. But I think that’s kind of the beauty of this, and why it has had this enduring spot in cinema history. It’s just truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and by not even tipping its hat towards any kind of meaning, you can just sit back and let it wash over you. That being said, when they pull up to the bus stop in a big wide shot with lots of pretty scenery, and it’s clear there is a hand painted, small backdrop sitting in the middle of this beautiful, real landscape that will be used as the background when the next shot zooms in for medium shots on the girls, it seems to me the movie has a pretty knowing sense of humor about itself.

Oh and one last thing. In the Criterion edition of the DVD, it says the director has been quoted as saying this is his “answer to Jaws.” If anyone’s got an explanation for how that applies at all, I’d love to hear it.

House scored: ★★★ (out of 5)

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Garrett Smith

Comedian of no repute. Co-host of the I Like To Movie Movie podcast and Movie Movie Live! the monthly game show based on the podcast.
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