After a brief hiatus it’s finally day sei of Queue De Grâce! Today, Cole from vitagraph, american has sent Spectacular Optical to Italy with the 1976 mystery, LA CASA DALLE FINESTRE CHE RIDONO (THE HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS).
After day five’s family friendly pick I was ready to get my 70s Eurosleaze on in a major way today! The DVD (put out by Image under its Euroshock Collection) features some great cover art (see the poster above) and the opening credits get right to it with a bound, shirtless man being brutally stabbed again and again and again with a butcher knife while some creepazoid pants and whispers all sorts of crazy talk over some nerve wracking music.
Then the film begins in earnest and I can almost hear Cole sniggering away at his little joke. Director Pupi Avati is not an Argento, Bava, or even a Fulci mimic…and HWLW is not necessarily a Giallo film…and despite its grisly beginning, it’s certainly not a slasher film either. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly why Cole picked it for my viewing pleasure. He knows that a man of my refined tastes and sensibilities believes he has seen the best that those directors and that genre have to offer and decided to throw me the ol’ Roulain Slurve!
The plot is pretty simple: Stefano (Lino Capolicchio) is summoned to a rural Italian village to restore a fresco of Saint Sebastian by his bespectacled buddy….let me just stop here and say that this movie had one of the most unattractive casts I’ve seen in an Italian film ever. Except for Francesca Marciano as Francesca, this movie is chock-a-block with some big ugly…and you know what they say…God hates ugly.
Anyway, Stefano meets every odd/crazy/mysterious resident of the village and they pretty much all have bad things to say about the painter of the fresco…”he was a madman“, “he was crazy“, “he liked to paint people that were suffering or dying“, and some even go so far to say that even “his sisters were real jerks“…
While Stefano becomes obsessed with delving deeper into the life of this demented painter he hooks up with Francesca, the one sane, good looking resident in the village…well, I think she’s supposed to be sane even though all she has in her fridge is this:
Back to the plot…Stefano has to juggle his new romance, his restoration of the fresco, and his sleuthing in a village where everyone appears to be in on the big mystery of the deceased painter…but someone or someones is/are trying their damnedest to hide the real truth from our inquisitive hero…or are they?
I was starting to lose interest about midway through the picture…where were the standard extended murder sequences, stylish camerawork and garish lighting? And where was all the nudity and sex? My disappointment was growing…what I wanted from my Italian horror was nowhere to be found…until I got to the last 30 minutes.
Hoo-boy did things pick up! The mysteries started to unfold, the blood started to run, and best of all, the plot got all whack-a-doodle in the best way possible! I even got a bit of nudity thrown my way! I really do believe Cole planted this film in the middle of the queue as a gateway from the less bizarre movies on the list to the insanity that awaits.
Well played Cole.
So, with all that being said here’s the breakdown…
Things I liked:
- The opening sequence
- The last 30 minutes
- The old timey reel to reel audio recorder
- Francesca’s XXL granny panties
- Francesca’s very 70s Italian underarm hair
Things I disliked:
- Stefano’s face
- Stefano’s beard
- Stefano’s lips
- The lack of typical 70s Italian flair
Please come back for Day 7 and don’t bother knockin’…I have a feeling the house is gonna’ be rockin’!