This movie is the directing debut for (the great) Nobuhiko Obayashi. He has directed commercials for television before he got into directing movies. This experience helped Obayashi learn many special effects used in TV commercials. It shows in this movie as almost every scene contains some sort of special visual effects.
In the mid '70s Toho studio was looking for fresh ideas for movies that would be a box office success. They've decided to use the then relative unknown Nobuhiko Obayashi to direct a movie with fresh new approach. Many of Toho's experienced staff expressed concerns over this because Obayashi never had experience of being an assistant director. Project manager for this movie then said "Us experienced directors aren't coming up with hit movies, so experience is not the criteria for making a successful movie. Lets allow this young director to make a movie to see if he knows more about what the audience really wants."
The original plot of this movie was written by the then 13 year old daughter of Obayashi himself.
The movie has a strange career as it was rediscovered by an Asian movie affectionado who had connections with Janus films (which is the parent company of the Criterion Collection) after being released in Japan over 30 years ago. It then made limited showings in theaters around the U.S.. Very unusual as not too many film gets a roadshow in another country 30 years after it was made.
Seven girls makes a plan to go on a vacation at one of the girl's aunts house in the country side. They don't suspect that the aunt died long time ago, and what inhabits the house is the apparition of the aunt that can remain young only by devouring the bodies of others.
The movie is a horror comedy with bit of erotic exploitation starring many actors who were teen idols at the time. When it was first released, Miki Jinbo who played the role of Kung Fu gathered the most votes by the young male audiences, as she kicked her way around the house wearing skimpy tank top and shorts.
This movie is very original in almost every way. Visuals are unusual as expressed earlier that Obayashi used many of the special effects he's learned while making TV commercials. Color is also very surreal as is the acting, but the movie has strange charm all its own, and not boring to watch. You can almost say that this is an artistic film that's also geared to entertain the audience.
In the end Toho studio got just what it was hoping to achieve - a box office smash hit. This movie also established the career of Obayashi as a bankable director. Obayashi went on to direct many other successful movies including the original "Girl who leaped through time".
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