Obayashi Nobuhiko’s House

Obayashi Nobuhiko, House, 1977, stills from a color film in 35 mm, 88 minutes. Fantasy (Ohba Kumiko).

OBAYASHI NOBUHIKO’S killer-kitsch thriller House (1977) is a rare example of a movie that has had two entirely distinct lives.* On first release in Japan, it was a big commercial hit for its producer, Toho. It made a rapid transition from B-feature to A-feature status in the company’s theaters and was credited with bringing in a new and overwhelmingly female audience that had shown little or no prior interest in Japanese films. Its appearance coincided with the growing popularity of shojo manga (comic strips aimed at teenage girls), and its success helped to consolidate a niche market for certain types of pop culture among young Japanese women. This success was not replicated in any other country at the time, and the film was largely forgotten in Japan—in part, eclipsed by the thirty-seven far more conventional features that Obayashi has made since 1977—until Toho released

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