I sometimes forget that I have intentionally hunted down some very weird films not necessarily in the public consciousness then act surprised that no one knows what I'm talking about.
The Happiness of the Katakuris is one of those films. More people are probably familiar with the director, Takashi Miike. He's the evil genius behind Audition, Ichi the Killer, Visitor Q, the original One Missed Call (actually a decent film, if a bit too slow and subtle for the subject matter), Masters of Horror banned-from-broadcast episode Imprint, and the "Box" segment in Three...Extremes. I don't think it's an exaggeration to generalize him as a director who produces taut psychological thrillers/suspense films with disturbing circumstances and extreme violence.
So what to make of the often ignore, grossly misunderstood The Happiness of the Katakuris? It has tons of violence. There are strong elements of suspense. The plot is pretty darn disturbing.
The difference is that The Happiness of the Katakuris is an original horror musical comedy about a family that cashes in their pensions, starts a small bed and breakfast-styled inn, and can't keep any of their guests alive. They wind up having to bury the bodies to hide the evidence from the police and keep their dream alive.
It's no great spoiler to post the following song. The plot description on the DVD case or anywhere else will let you know that the guests die and are buried by the family. It is, however, very catchy and will stick with you for days, even if you don't speak Japanese (like me) and rely on English dubs rewritten to match the melody to sing it over and over.
I believe we can all learn an important lesson from those singing and dancing zombies: bury your victims deeper and in harder soil. Duh.
I, of course, believe the film is full of potential for an excellent screen to stage adaptation in English. Of course. I still think 28 Days Later would make a killer musical, too.
If you like musicals, and horror, and Miike, and dark comedy, and bizarre Japanese films, try to hunt down a copy of The Happiness of the Katakuris. I doubt you'll be disappointed since you know what you are getting into. Your welcome.