Arriving on Blu-Ray/DVD combo on June 17th is Takashi Miike’s ‘Happiness of the Katakuris,’ a surreal musical yarn about a family running an inn in the middle of nowhere despite terrible coincidences that occur.
The film starts off with a trippy stop-motion animation sequence (reminiscent of the old MTV Cartoon Sushi days) of a demon, or fairy, or…something, rising from a bowl of soup that eats a patron’s uvula, then tends to get devoured itself only to be reborn in a variety of forms until we arrive at the White Lover’s Inn, a newly opened bed and breakfast currently awaiting guests. The Katakuris moved here because, there was a rumor that the new highway was going to run right near the area, so Masao (Kenji Sawata) moved his entire family out here to live and work as a family. He and his wife, Terue (Keiko Matsuzaka) were both shoe sales people that met and got married at work. Their son, Masayuki (Shinji Takeda) got fired from his job as a stock trader, presumably for some illegal actions, and their daughter, Shizue (Naomi Nishida) is a hopeless romantic, constantly falling in love with every man she meets, who all end up being scumbags. Shizue’s daughter, Yurie (Tamaki Miyazaki) is only a toddler, but narrates the story. Finally, there is Ojisan (Tetsuro Tanba), the patriarch of the Katakuris and slightly insane.
As of now, the new highway is only a rumor and the Katakuris are eagerly awaiting guests, hoping that the little money they have doesn’t run out. Luckily, a guest happens to arrive, but that night he kills himself. When the family discovers the body, they break out into an amusing song and dance trying to decide what to do: either tell the cops and earn a less than desirable reputation that would probably result in no guests, or hide the body on the outskirts of the property and go on with business as usual. Choosing the latter, they all go out and bury the guest. Soon, more guests start to arrive, but they all end up dying in different ways, and with still more guests coming, can the Katakuris keep their secret, or will they be found out?
This film was like the Von Trapps found that Von Crack I mean, it was utterly ridiculous, but if you are familiar with Miike’s work, you should expect nothing less. The singing and dancing were all well choreographed and completely strange. While there are odd scenes of claymation and people dying, it is nearly non-violent. ‘Happiness of the Katakuris’ should not be categorized as a horror comedy, but rather just a dark comedy. Although what they did was heinous, they did so to protect each other, and that is the real theme of the film: family. Separately, they were all train-wrecks, but together, they are happy, strong, and can overcome anything.
Arrow brings us another fine cult-classic tuned to perfection in sweet, sweet 1080p and loaded with enough extras to choke a sumo-wrestler. Pre-order here.
- New High Definition digital film transfer
- Presented in High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD
- Original uncompressed Stereo PCM audio
- Audio commentary by director Takashi Miike
- The Making of the Katakuris – An original documentary from the film’s production featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes footage with the cast and crew
- Interviews with the Katakuris cast members Kenji Sawada, Keiko Matsuzaka, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Shinji Takeda, Naomi Nishida, Tetsuro Tanba and Miike
- Animating the Katakuris – A look at the creation of the film’s stop motion effects with animation director Hideki Kimura and Miike
- Trailer and TV Spots
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
- Booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Johnny Mains and a re-printed interview with Miike conducted by Sean Axmaker, illustrated with original stills