HIDDEN HORROR: The House with Laughing Windows (Redux)

I reviewed this film back in February, but I have recently watched again and decided that my previous review did not do justice to this great film.

MV5BMTY5NDMwMzM1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjUzMzAyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_The world of Italian horror and giallo is a vast one, full of incredible gems that not very many people know of and this title is a perfect example of that. The House with Laughing Windows is a 1976 giallo film directed by Pupi Avati. What makes this film so great is that it has a wild plot, atmosphere, dread, mystery, and gore, which together makes this film truly a piece of art. The cinematography work on this film is incredible and the atmosphere this film has rivals any Mario Bava film. It is one of the best Italian/giallo films of all time, and it is criminally unknown.

The film tells the tale of Stephano, an artist, who comes to an island to restore an old painting in a church that depicts several murders. However, the story behind the painting is a grisly one as the artist who created them was said to have actually killed, tortured, and then painted people and their expressions so that his art could be more realistic! The artist behind the paintings is said to be long gone and dead but as Stephano begins to restore the painting, he finds that something or someone does not want him to, and a string of murders begins to occur in the village. As the film progresses Stephano learns the truth about the artist, the painting, and the village’s twisted secret.

Despite this film being atmospheric and a piece of art, it is a brutal film. It features gore, not as much as Lucio Fulci, but enough to make this film brutal and the ending is pretty unsettling as well. This film is kind of like two films in one, some parts being pure giallo/mystery with beautiful cinematography, then other parts being a more traditional and creepy horror/slasher. Speaking of which, the beginning of the film is creepy as hell and so is the painting that Stephano is restoring. The ending is very Psycho-esque to say the least, hitting the viewer like a ton of bricks because they never saw it coming. The dread and tension throughout is comparable to Rosemary’s Baby. The film at times is an uncomfortable watch. It is hard to believe that it’s from 1976, as not many horror films these days can match what this film has. This film is superior to most generic horror films out there today by using the basic elements of originality, mystery, dread creepiness, and brutality- and using them quite well.

Pupi Avati is an incredible director. He did not make very many horror films though and this is a shame because I (and anyone else who has seen this film) think it is one of the greatest horror films ever made. Pupi Avati was like the Mario Bava of the ’70s, but he did not get as much credit as Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento. This film was not officially released in America either. If it had been, it would have probably been as famous as Zombie 2, Suspiria and so on. So if you want a terrific outside the box horror film that is unique, yet artsy and creepy, but still brutal then this film is for you. The House with Laughing Windows is unlike any horror film you have ever seen. It may be one of your future favorites.

-Dakota Bailey

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