Erin Nunoda is a PhD candidate at the Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto. Her research examines the intersection between sexual isolation, privatization, and home video spectatorship, with a particular focus on the 1970s and 1980s.
The 1977 Japanese horror movie, Hausu has become infamous for its exaggerated, cartoonish representations of teenage death: of girls being eaten by pianos, submerged in bleeding clocks, smothered by a torrent of pillows, or dismembered in kaleidoscopes of swirling, two-dimensional objects. When writers care to analyze the film at all, it becomes an emblem of atomic destruction or an excursus on the need to educate a less informed, consumer-oriented audience: its wild aesthetic flourishes solely ciphers for its political critique. Making use of queer area scholarship, cultural studies work on shōjo manga, and historical investigations into the gendered qualities of the Japanese nation, this presentation seeks to re-focus this often-disregarded film from being understood solely as either a kitschy cult artefact or an allegory for Japan’s wounded post-war nationality. Rather than cultivating a coherent political project, Hausu aligns homoerotic bonds between women both with the capacity to inflict injury and as a potential escape from injurious bonds. To view the film in this light is thus to reconfigure this “bad object” (as in trashy midnight movie) through the lens of queer theory’s bad object: a portrait of same-gender intimacies without non-normative guarantee.