Mr. Subtlety reminded me that I completely forgot to post about Sweet Home, which we watched with some other folks the same night as The House With Laughing Windows. (I blame alcohol for this oversight). I think that brings my total up to 78, and now I'm officially starting to feel less proud about all of this and more concerned that I might have some sort of mental disorder/compulsion.
A Japanese film crew visits the dilapidated old mansion of a deceased painter in search of his lost artwork. Buried under layers of dust and dirt, they find elaborate, disturbing frescoes painted on the walls hinting at dark, traumatic secrets in the painter's past. Finding the paintings, of course, awakens an evil spirit who controls the shadows, and the crew must fight for their lives and try to escape the mansion.
(Somehow I didn't realize until right now that I watched two movies in one night that involved creepy, old frescoes that also serve as clues to a bizarre mystery; again, blame the booze).
Sweet Home is very much in the vein of Poltergeist; a special effects heavy, 80's horror/adventure roller coaster ride. It's got some touches of Japanese weirdness (like an interlude where one character serenades the others for a while) and some over the top graphic violence and a dark backstory that turn the otherwise tame movie into something not family friendly, but it still has more in common with a Spielberg production than it does something like, I dunno, a Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie.
Which is fuckin' weird, because this is a Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie. That's right, Japan's go-to auteur of slow, atmosphere heavy, ambiguous, narratively obscure art/horror films made a rollicking, somewhat comedic horror/adventure film in the 80's. It was relatively early in his career, so I'm not sure if Kurosawa hadn't yet developed his signature style, or if he didn't yet have the clout to make that kind of movie, or what.
Somewhat surprisingly, he turns out to be rather adept at making this kind of film; it's energetic, packed with nifty visuals and cool effects, and doesn't feel at all like his usual deliberately paced, brooding output. Kurosawa has frequently display serious technical chops in his films, so I guess I shouldn't have found this too surprising, but he never seemed particularly versatile, either. Goes to show that his signature style isn't a sign of a limited skill set, just his favorite way of artistic expression.