“Like nothing you’ve ever seen before!” is a commonly tossed around piece of hyperbole that films rarely live up to, but the 1977 Japanese film House (Hausu) is perhaps one of the few films that does.
A ludicrously entertaining horror-comedy, Hausu follows seven young girls as they visit the run down mansion of one of their eccentric Aunts - and, unsurprisingly enough, once night falls at the grand home, unusual things start to happen… If that plot sounds formulaic, don’t worry; to explain more would be to ruin the myriad of bizarre pleasures that the film offers.
Based partly on director Nobuhiko Ōbayashi's daughters’ nightmares (the then-10-year-old receives a writing credit), Hausu is filled to the brim with eye-popping DIY special effects, bizarre comedic non-sequiturs and marvellous levels of over-acting – whilst somehow managing to spare some time to sincerely reflect on Japan's grief after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Hausu is very much a film that you just have to let happen to you, but once you tune into its particular brand of wackiness it’s a non-stop delight.
If you'd like to delve deeper into Hausu, this BFI article goes into some nice detail about the conception and production of the film. There's also an episode of the Dead Meat Podcast, which talks about it at length.
As you well know April 8th is Rex Manning Day, so today we are revisiting the 1995 classic, Empire Records directed by Allan Moyle. Charting 24 hours in the lives of the young employees of an independent record store, Empire Records opens with wannabe beatnik Lucas taking $9k from the store and losing it all at a local casino in a grand attempt to save the business.
Empire Records was panned on its release and its competition was pretty tough at the time – with 1995 also seeing the release of Indie royalty like Before Sunrise, Kids, Safe and, erm, Clueless (not Indie but blooming heck it’s great). Empire Records had a star studded and probably unreasonably attractive cast all delivering some pretty cheesy moments. All that aside, as a young teen stumbling upon the film it’s a pretty accessible and fun introduction to youthful rebellion and the roaring war of the Independents versus the chains that applies pretty neatly to every industry and hasn’t changed much in the 25 years since the film was released.
And why Rex Manning Day? Well, in the film this refers to a visit to the store by aging heartthrob Rex Manning who comes for a signing. A couple of years ago Ethan Embry, one of the young leads from the film, revealed that they selected April 8th as the day to have the visit because Kurt Cobain was found on the 8th of April making, it the day the music of the 90s lost its mascot.
It feels really wrong to suggest this given the theme we’re talking about but Empire Records is included on Amazon Prime, or for the perfect watch you’ll hopefully still have an old VHS tape ready to go.
After you’ve spent the long Easter weekend scoffing chocolate eggs, why not snuggle down into your nest and let our good friends at Scalarama Leeds hatch a special day of free cinema for you, dedicated to those ovoid wonders. Welcome to EGGFEST!
Scalarama Leeds have researched & shortlisted over five dozen features and shorts, each given their very own egg rating! See the full list here.
From this, they’ve curated four feature presentations and 25+ shorts, which will be screened online in four programmes, on Monday 5th April:
1.00pm: Programme One (Feature ) Laurel & Hardy: The Live Ghost (1934, U)
3.00pm: Programme Two (Feature) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, U)
6.00pm: Programme Three (Feature) Tampopo (1988, 15)
8.30pm: Programme Four (Feature) Cool Hand Luke (1967, 15)
Each programme is approx. two hours long, with short breaks in between, so you're welcome to scoff the whole batch, or just dip in. There will also be a special WhatsApp group to share gifs, chat and yolks during the event, and Scalarama have even made their own egg-based short films - which are definitely not to be missed!
You can watch their fantastically eggy trailer below.
To join in for some egg filled film fun, book your free ticket on EventBrite where you'll receive the full schedule & screening information.
The 8th follows a number of dedicated Irish female activists as they strive to overturn the 8th amendment, banning abortion, that was passed in 1983. Using archive footage throughout the 35 year battle for the right to choose, the film focuses on a number of key events during this period that provoked public demonstrations, culminating in the referendum in 2018.
Documenting an emotive grassroots campaign around an issue that threatened to tear the country apart, the film is never sensationalist or provocative - it merely reflects the sense of injustice felt by so many women and their fight to be heard.
On Saturday 3rd April at 1pm, all three directors of the film will be taking part in a discussion about the film and the issues raised. This event is FREE but you must book tickets to attend via Eventbrite, and a Zoom link will be sent out shortly before the Q&A.
As part of the upcoming Leeds based INDIs Festival (aimed at young film enthusiasts and filmmakers aged 15+) we are supporting our friends at Leeds Film, to screen Asunder (UK, 12, 2016, 72min) online on the Leeds Film Player from 29th March to the 30th April for just £5!
Asunder tells the story of what happened to an English town during the First World War, with almost all of its men fighting abroad and its women and children left behind. The North East was in the front line, due to its shipyards and munitions factories. Using archive and contemporary footage and audio, Asunder collages the stories of people from Tyneside and Wearside to uncover what life was like on the home front, with bombs falling on Britain for the first time, conscientious objectors sentenced to death, and women working as doctors, tram conductors and footballers.
The film screening is part of a collaborative FREE project for young filmmakers, Make Film History: Unlocking the Creative of Film Archives which starts with a workshop on Saturday 10th April at 13.00pm (re-scheduled from the earlier date of Saturday 27th March), which will include director Esther Johnson talking about her use of archive footage. The Make Film History project makes available archive films from the BBC, BFI National Archive, Irish Film Institute and Northern Ireland Screen for educational use by young filmmakers. Using examples from Johnson's own films and Make Film History collection, the workshop will demonstrate the rich potential of using archive footage in developing fresh work.
Anyone booking on to this workshop will receive a free ticket to watch Asunder!
Following on from the workshop, we will present a FREE screening of the films created through the Make Film History project. Watch this space for more details on the date for this special event. These films demonstrate the wonderful creative potential of film archive. Operating at the intersection of modern technology and the historical archive, this screening highlights young filmmakers engagement with the enormous untapped potential of film heritage and its integration it into their practice.
Both the Make Film History workshop is available to book on Eventbrite
To find out Make Film History, visit their website here
To find out more about the INDIs Festival and the rest of their month long programme of screenings and events, visit their website here
In honour of St Patricks Day, join us to watch our Hyde & Seek family-friendly pick for this week, celebrating Ireland through a whimsical exploration of Gaelic folklore.
Song of the Sea is a contemporary visual delight, which perfectly encapsulates ancient legend and mythology whilst remaining surprisingly contemporary through both reimagined style and storytelling. The film expertly combines soothing songs and imagery, with exhilarating drama and intrigue, to keep all audiences enthralled as Ben and his little sister Saoirse (the last seal-child) embark on a fantastical journey to return to their home by the sea.
Just like its irish folklore Cartoon Saloon counterparts (The Secret of Kells and Wolfwalkers), the film does not shy away from challenging narratives but remains accessible for all ages, through a respectful and gentle exploration and depiction of relevant complex issues and themes.
Today is a great excuse to watch this film, but this gem is great all year round!
Our Hyde Park Pick today is a new virtual release from our friends at Modern Films, Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché (dir. Paul Sng and Celeste Bell).
Poly Styrene was the first woman of colour in the UK to front a successful rock band. She introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about identity, consumerism, postmodernism, and everything she saw unfolding in late 1970s Britain, with a rare prescience. As the frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, the Anglo-Somali punk musician was also a key inspiration for the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements.
But the late punk maverick didn’t just leave behind an immense cultural footprint. She was survived by a daughter, Celeste Bell, who became the unwitting guardian of her mother’s legacy and her mother’s demons. Misogyny, racism, and mental illness plagued Poly’s life, while their lasting trauma scarred Celeste’s childhood and the pair’s relationship.
Featuring unseen archive material and rare diary entries narrated by Oscar-nominee Ruth Negga, this documentary follows Celeste as she examines her mother’s unopened artistic archive and traverses three continents to better understand Poly the icon and Poly the mother.
To find out more about the film why not check out this great Q&A over on the Modern Films Facebook page which was recorded ahead of the films release, in partnership with Everyman Cinemas and Art & Music Books (The Saatchi Gallery Magazine).
Hosted by Zoë Howe (Co-Writer), the Q&A features co-directors Celeste Bell and Paul Sng alongside Pam Hogg (Fashion Designer) and David Sheppard (Music Editor, Art & Music Books). Find it here.
Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché is currently available to watch on Sky Arts or you can rent it directly from Modern Films and opt to support Hyde Park. Head here for more info.