Today’s selection: Sweet Home (1989, dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Available from: Fansub-only
Five people go to an abandoned mansion to film a documentary – has that set-up ever led to anything other than a horror film? I mean, especially if the previous owner is an eccentric artist who went mad and disappeared mysteriously? Especially if there’s a cemetery for babies right outside the place? Especially if a kindly old doomsayer at the gas station warns them not to visit? That’s the premise of Sweet Home, an early ghost flick from director Kurosawa, who would later give us titles like Cure and Pulse. It varies a bit from the tone of those titles due to studio tampering, amping up the special effects, but it’s hard to complain when the FX were handled by The Exorcist’s Dick Smith. Honestly, I thought the early bits of the movie leading up to all the effects were a bit slow, so I guess I’m a cretin.
Things play out in expected haunted house fashion, with objects and shadows moving around early (there are a lot of shadows, to the point where it’s frequently hard to discern what’s going on), before things really go nuts with lightning effects and people melting. By that point, the protagonist’s daughter has been kidnapped by the spirit of the house, so there’s no turning back.
Sweet Home is best remembered for its tie-in game for the NES, one of Capcom’s titles that had a major influence on the original Resident Evil. Admittedly, one is about ghosts while the other is about zombies, but both use the same haunted-mansion visual cues.