Welcome to Stoner’s Corner! Nightmare on Film Street’s explration into trippy movies from the strangest corners of horror. Every month I’ll be highlighting a mind-altering film but also providing some insight to the world of cannabis through pairings & edible recipes to enhance your viewing experience, and keep you high on horror.
You know when you’re watching a horror movie and you think to yourself “this would be so fun to watch high”? Or the feeling when you’re watching a movie so bizarre, the experience alone makes you feel like you’re stoned without taking a single puff? I’m here to explore that specific feeling in this new column and in honor of A Haunting on Film Street, we’ll be kicking things off with the Japanese hallucinatory head-trip Hausu, or known to us English-speaking folk as simply House.
A Stoner’s Synopsis
House is a Japanese haunted house film released in 1977 and much like cinema in the States and Italy, Japan was getting real weird with it in the horror movie department. While the plot of House isn’t entirely important to the experience of watching this movie, I suppose it’s important to set the stage. The film follows a young girl named Gorgeous, who’s not to keen on spending the summer with her dad and new stepmother. Instead, Gorgeous decides to visit her aunt’s house in the country with her 6 friends: Melody, Prof, Mac, Fantasy, Sweet, and Kung Fu (wonder what their personalities are like?).
Once there, they are immediately weirded out by Gorgeous’ suspiciously beautiful Auntie who claims to be very sick. Things get weirder as the girls experience strange occurrences that start with moving furniture, eventually graduating into said furniture eating the girls. Is the house haunted? Is Auntie a ghost? Is the cat possessed by an evil spirit? I’m not exactly sure, but I think all the above!
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“If you’re going to get high and watch a haunted house movie, you want to have fun. House provides fun in spades, with haunted shenanigans to hilarious and strange gags…“
From scene one, the film exudes a strangeness through its unique presentation, oddball editing choices, and offbeat acting performances making it difficult to follow what’s actually happening in the film. But oh boy is it fun trying to put the pieces together! What’s it like watching House? Imagine walking through a carnival funhouse haunted by the ghost of Mel Brooks, while wearing drunk goggles. And that’s if you don’t get high before watching. As children are devoured by this haunted house, you’re not sure whether to scream or laugh. House plays out like some anime version of Jaws. How high am I for comparing this film to the Spielberg classic? After a little digging, it turns out I’m not too crazy after all.
With Jaws being a huge success in the United States, film production company Toho wanted to make a film like it. They approached Nobuhiko Obayashi to develop a script, who did what any sensible director would do when asked to create a horror movie: he consulted his young daughter for ideas. Many times throughout House, you’ll find yourself wondering if a child came up with what you’re seeing on-screen, and you’d be correct! The screenplay was written by Chiho Katsura, but an important note about this film is that Obayashi’s daughter Chigumi receives story credits. The resulting collaboration between Obayashi and Katsura resulted in an entangled mess of radical ideas, which was music to the ears of executives at Toho who were tired of losing money on safe projects. Basically, Nobuhiko Obayashi was given money and access to the largest film sets in Japan to bring a child’s story to life and that’s pretty rad if you ask me.
Things That Go “WTF?” in the Night
What’s fun about House is that much like a child’s imagination, this film’s strangeness knows no limits. From the game show-like production aesthetic to the dizzying narrative, House brings together elements of camp and psychological horror for an experience like no other. The first thing that made me question how baked I was would be the editing. This film makes some bold choices, to put it lightly. House’s use of animation is on display from the opening credits and special effects were made to be intentionally “bad” as if done by children. Scenes are set in front of large, lavish matte paintings. Combine this with frantic cuts and square aspect ratio, House can oftentimes be visually overwhelming. However, this is perfect when you’re stoned because you never run out of things to dissect on screen.
The mayhem doesn’t stop on the visual front, House has a lot for your ears to process as well. Whether it’s the score or diegetic sounds, the music in this movie is non-stop. Speaking of non-stop, someone is always talking in this movie. Usually, multiple people at once, giving you that same anxiety you get when watching Uncut Gems except with terrified school girls (not going to lie, their screaming might be the most uncomfortable part of the movie). And just when you think you’re higher than Mount Fuji, Melody begins to play “Welcome to the Black Parade” on the piano! Except for once in this film, things are as they seem. My Chemical Romance’s hit single samples “In the Evening Mist”, the piano tune featured multiple times throughout the film.
“Your best bet is to take another hit of whatever you’re smoking and question nothing: just let the House experience happen!”
Influence to a goth rock anthem is just one of the many random surprises hidden within the walls of House. This film is probably a hidden gem to most, so I don’t want to spoil all the fun. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a few of my favorite WTF moments like the floating head of a dead girl biting another girl’s butt. There’s also a scene where one of the girls gets possessed by a mirror featuring some of the most disorienting hallucinations I’ve seen in a horror film. Each haunt the girls experience gets increasingly more bizarre and I’m pretty sure they left this fantasy scene in by accident that includes a “The End” credits card in the middle of the film. Needless to say, a lot of things happen in a high-speed, technicolor blur. The characters are just as confused about the movie as we are, getting meta, questioning the genre of film they’re in, and our antagonist acknowledging the camera. Your best bet is to take another hit of whatever you’re smoking and question nothing: just let the House experience happen!
Before getting into my methods of marijuana consumption for this film, how about a little Weed 101? I’m no scientist or expert (refer to Leafly for a full crash course of various educational articles) but I can provide the basics! According to the CDC, Marijuana (which can also be called weed, pot, dope, or cannabis) is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains psychoactive (mind-altering) compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as well as other active compounds like cannabidiol, or CBD, that are not mind-altering. Standard methods of consumption include:
- Joints (weed rolled in traditional smoking paper)
- Blunts (weed rolled in cigar/tobacco paper)
- Pipes (a smoking pipe with a ‘bowl’ at the end)
- Bongs (large water pipes)
- Dabs (oil extracts of the cannabis plants)
- Vaporizers (electronic smoking devices)
- Edibles (candy or food infused with cannabis oil or finely ground shavings)
The main thing to know as far as categorizing the different strains of weed are knowing the distinct type of strain: Sativa, Indica, or a hybrid of the two. Truth be told, most strains are actually hybrids as it’s difficult to find a pure strain that hasn’t been derived from cross-breeding at one point or another, but for organizational reasons strains are assigned to a group by the effects that typically follow. Sativas tend to induce a more energetic and cerebral high, or head high. Indicas are associated with physical, relaxing body highs. In most cases, hybrids tend to be dominated by one or the other. The strength of cannabis correlates with it’s THC percentage against CBD, which also factors into the type of high you experience.
“ I may not have always understood what was going on during this movie, but House did manage to keep a smile on my face the entire viewing. Or maybe that was from the weed…”
For House, I decided to puff on a Stiiizy Vape Pen, containing oil extract from the Gelato strain (an Indica-dominant hybrid) from plants grown here in Los Angeles. Vape pens tend to be more mellow than smoking herb, but are great for prolonged use. I didn’t want to be too high for my first time watching this film, but pens are great for sustaining highs. House starts getting weird within the first 5 minutes and you want to try to stay on the film’s level, and with a barely coherent plot, you might be lost within the film completely if you get too high! Unless you have high tolerance like me and must smoke flower in addition to a vape pen, in which case throw an Indica strain into the mix (just remember, the skeleton dancing in the corner is your friend).
Did you know: Cannabis can even be enjoyed without THC, as CBD-only cannabis can give similar relaxing results without the high. CBD-dominant cannabis can great for those who get anxious or overwhelmed by the effects of cannabis. For some, cannabis might not be your thing. Or more likely, you’re not smoking the right stuff!
If there was a perfect haunted house horror recommendation to come from a stoner, it would be House. This 1977 gem is a classic in Japanese horror, however, it has developed a cult following in western countries despite not being shown in North America until 2009. If you’re going to get high and watch a haunted house movie, you want to have fun. House provides fun in spades, with haunted shenanigans to hilarious and strange gags, and somehow it makes the movie creepy? Director Nobuhiku Obayashi weaved together multiple tones and bizarre sequences into a truly unique viewing experience. I may not have always understood what was going on during this movie, but House did manage to keep a smile on my face the entire viewing. Or maybe that was from the weed… Either way, I’m glad I experienced this film and recommend you do the same!
A Haunting on Film Street may be coming to a close, but this column is just heating up! Join me next month for another edition of Stoner’s Corner. Do you enjoy smoking cannabis while watching horror movies? Tell us some of your experiences on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!