The House with Laughing Windows is a 1976 Italian giallo horror film co-written and directed by Pupi Avati.
Stefano (Lino Capolicchio) arrives in a rural Italian village to restore a fresco of the slaughter of Saint Sebastian which is painted on a rotting church wall. While living temporarily in a house previously owned by the two sisters of the long-dead artist, Stefano begins a romance with a beautiful teacher, Francesca (Francesca Marciano).
He hears from various townspeople that the painter was a madman who created his art from real life. The artist, assisted by his two equally insane sisters, had viciously tortured people to death as inspiration for his horrific paintings. Some of the villagers are brutally killed and Stefano comes to believe that the murderer is trying to stop him from learning even more of the village’s depraved secrets…
“All the normal devices that are utilised to distance an audience emotionally are almost entirely absent, which makes this an incredibly unsafe viewing experience. The viewing safety of the audience is also undermined by Avati’s determined disavowal of generic convention.” The Celluloid Highway
“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 […] and maybe first of all, excellent acting.” Ninja Dixon
“While it toys with some of the same themes as Dario Argento’s work, it’s a much more subdued effort and forgoes Argentos flashiness and stylization in favor of a more deliberate pacing. Rather than slap you in the face with its set pieces, the film unfolds ideas and themes as the characters unravel them, which in turn keeps you guessing and makes for an unpredictable finale.”Rock! Shock! Pop!
“Bizarre, sometimes haunting Italian horror […] The intricate plot will keep you guessing until the shocking conclusion. However you slice and dice it, this one’s a stunningly memorable effort from Avati.” The Terror Trap
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Cast and characters:
Lino Capolicchio … Stefano
Francesca Marciano … Francesca
Gianni Cavina … Coppola
Giulio Pizzirani … Antonio Mazza
Bob Tonelli … Mayor Solmi
Vanna Busoni … Teacher
Pietro Brambilla … Lidio
Ferdinando Orlandi … Police Marshall
Andrea Matteuzzi … Poppi
Ines Ciaschetti … Concierge
Pina Borione … Paraplegic Woman
Flavia Giorgi … Poppi’s Wife
Arrigo Lucchini … Grocer
Carla Astolfi … Chambermaid at Boarding House
Luciano Bianchi … Franchini the Librarian
Tonino Corazzari … Buono Legnani
Lido degli Scacchi, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna (the villa where the main character lives).
La casa dalle finestre che ridono