Sunday, June 27, 2010

The House with Laughing Windows (1976)

I sorta lost interest in reviewing giallos because it often means I get a pat on the head with some well-meaning words that I don't know what I'm writing about. The House with Laughing Windows is a slow movie, not necessery in a good way (no, I know the difference between mood and boredom), but even if Pupi Avati used the infamous Kevin Costner-method of directing (aka show everything that happening, even if it includes looong, uninteresting scenes of people walking up stairs) this is still a stellar giallo that maybe's in the shadow of the giants, but still manage to crawl out and hit you in the groin.

First of all it's fucking nice to finally see a movie without the typical macho-idiot wannabe-cop trying to solve a mystery. I'm kinda tired of tight jeans, big polisongs and boring love-scenes with some random chick, imported from Sweden or Germany. Here we have the excellent Lino Capolicchio as Stefano, a friendly restorer sent to a little village to fix a fresco that never was finished due to the death of the painter. Stefano soon finds out that someone don't want him to finish the fresco, and even starts murdering people that might know to much about it. The original painter, Legnani, disappeared (on fire!) into the deep forest and was never seen again. Obviously a really disturbed guy, terrorized by his two older sisters, he left a legacy of fear and paranoia in the little village... and soon the killer is after Stefano too, who want to find out why the fresco was so important for Legnani...

One of the best things with Laughing Windows is it's so far away from Rome and the other cities. Finally we're feeling a real danger out in the isolated countryside. That, together with a good mystery and a creepy final, makes this a very fine giallo with some decent gore (but as a film-fan you can't admit to like gore in movies...) and maybe first of all, excellent acting. Stefano is someone you want to follow into the intrigue, you want him to stay away from certain buildings and people, and everything he does feels like something that you can cope with. I mean, the first thing he does when he arrives to the village is to fuck the local teacher/whore - and you won't even think it's something wrong to do. It's his choice, and he likes it.

It's not many murders, and I would have liked at least one murder in the first half to spice things up. Cut down on the walking, in with the killing! But Avati knows how to make it fun too. Mysterious tape-recordings, a secret hidden in art, some really fucked up traumas and of course religion. It's just sad that he also uses the overused "find-something-important-and-goes-to-get-police-and-nothing-is-found-when-they-arrives-and-the-police-thinks-he's-an-idiot". You know what I mean. Seen that, done that, fallen asleep to that.

I would include The House with Laughing Windows the top ten of giallos, but not among the first five. Maybe eight or nine, maybe even ten. It's far from perfect, but those weak spots is hidden well in a movie filled with highlights.


CiNEZiLLA said...

LOL: brilliant piece.


Erich Kuersten said...

Right on! Thanks for telling it like it is, Mr. Ninja. You're the first writer to make me want to see this crazy film.

Jack J said...

You don't know what you write about. If you where here I'd knock you over the head!!!


Stop worrying about what people think! Review what you like and don't worry 'bout nothing!