The House of the Laughing Windows

09/25/2020 06:25

Film: The House of the Laughing Windows (La casa dalle finestre che ridono)

Year: 1976

Director: Pupi Avati

Writer: Pupi Avati, Antonio Avati, Gianni Cavina and Maurizio Costanzo

Starring: Lino Capolicchio, Francesca Marciano and Cianni Cavina



This was a movie that intrigued me because I love the titles that giallo films tend to use. It is quite long, outrageous, but it actually makes sense to something in the movie which I also appreciate. I did finally watch this thanks to Duncan and his Where to Begin with Giallo series over on the TPUTS Collective. The synopsis is Stefano (Lino Capolicchio), a young restorer, is commissioned to save a controversial mural located in the church of a small, isolated village.

We start this movie off with a fuzzy focus of a man as he is being stabbed to death. His arms are chained above his head and we cannot see who is doing this to him. As this movie progresses, we learn his name is Buono Legnani (Tonino Corazzari). He is a famous painter known to capture agony of his subjects. Over his attack, we hear his screams and odd ramblings that will be revisited throughout. Also, the focus of the shot is to signify this is in the past.

It then takes us to our star of the movie, Stefano. He’s on a ferry and notices an attractive woman also on board. Later we learn her name is Francesca and she is portrayed by Francesca Marciano. Stefano is met by Solmi (Bob Tonelli). He is a little person as well as the mayor. With him is Coppola (Gianni Cavina), a man that he accuses of having a drinking problem, but he is also his driver.

Stefano is set up in a boarding house. He catches the eye of a teacher, Vanna Busoni, who appears to be a nymphomaniac if the rumors around the village are true. Stefano meets up with Antonio Mazzai (Giulio Pizzirani) who is his friend and also lives here. Antonio is looking out for his friend and recommended him for restoring the mural. It is located in a local church and Stefano is excited as he knows of the painter.

I believe the priest in the church’s name is Don Orsi (Eugene Walter). He seems to welcome that Stefano wants to help restore the mural, but doesn’t really seem to care for its subject matter. It is also there Stefano sees Lidio (Pietro Brambilla) who helps with the upkeep of the church.

The deeper that Stefano gets into restoring the mural, the more he gets interested in learning the tragic and strange back-story of its painter, Legnani. This leads to Antonio’s murder when he has information to share with Stefano. He isn’t the only one killed either. Stefano also falls in love with Francesca and has to move in with Lidio when the boarding house turns him out. It is there we see there’s someone stalking him from the dark as well as Lidio’s mother who is paraplegic, Pina Borione. The more he learns, the more terrifying things become and he learns the truth of what happened to Legnani and the house of laughing windows.

Now that’s where I want to leave my recap as I like to give as much information as I can without spoiling too much of the film. Personally, I feel that I did a pretty good here in getting you up to speed without doing that. Where I want to start with my analysis though is with the surreal feel of the movie. It really just jumps in with this odd scene of something horrible happening to Legnani. A major part of the story is the mural and how it mirrors this scene which is haunting. Plus how he sounds is replayed quite a bit and creepy as well.

There was a bit early on where I was confused as to what was going on. I’ve noticed these Italian films do not hold your hand or really care if you’re following the story. It is something that I’ve grown to respect though as I feel I understand, for the most part, without it being spoon-fed. We also don’t really get that information dump that many films from this subgenre tend to have.

If you couldn’t tell, I was on board with this mystery and to see how these things all fit together. It also ticks a lot of my boxes without going to heavy into any of them looking back. There is a supernatural feel, but it is grounded. We have a bit of religion with what happens in the church and with the priest, but it doesn’t really question religion in general. I’m not going to say that I completely loved everything. The movie just kept my interest and justified the 110 minute runtime where I never got bored.

That will take me to the acting. No one really stood out to me as a great actor. I like Capolicchio as without him, we don’t have a movie. His inquisitive nature leads us to where we end up. Marciano is attractive, but to be honest, she doesn’t add a lot to the movie. We don’t really flesh out her character and she really is there to become a distraction as well as to drive events to the climax. I would say the rest of the cast does help round out this small village where Stefano doesn’t completely fit in and it becomes really creepy when we see the truth.

That will move me next to the effects. To be honest, this movie really doesn’t have a lot of them. What we do get though is really good. The movie is strategic in using close-ups and to hide that it really isn’t a person. What also works here is that they use quick cuts so you can’t get a great look as well. The blood is a bit bright, but it is the 1970s so I have a soft spot there. Other than, I like the soft focus that is used to simulate what happened in the past and to correlate events back.

The last thing I want to go over would be the soundtrack. This movie is accompanied by a solid giallo score, but not one that I fell in love with. I definitely thought it fit the movie. What I really want to cover though would be the creepiness of Legnani and the recordings of his death. They have it on tape and play it periodically. This is partially during Stefano’s investigation as well at other times. That made me feel uncomfortable and I dug it.

With that said, this is a solid little giallo film. I really only knew the title and that was about it. This as I said combines a few elements that I like with just a taste. We have a surreal feel I come to really like from Italian cinema, a bit of supernatural and religion mixed in as well. I will admit I was confused for a stretch, but I do think the movie is fine in an explanation to it and is scary when see how far the truth of what happened to Legnani goes. There is some creepiness with the sound design and the effects might be a bit limited, but what we get looks good. Other than that, I think the acting is fine with no one really standing out, but Stefano drives the story and Francesca is attractive. My rating here is that this is a good movie and one I would definitely check out again now that I know how things lay out.


My Rating: 8 out of 10