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us title: The House with Laughing Windows
italian title: La casa dalle finestre che ridono
year: 1976
director: Pupi Avati
composer: Amedeo Tommasi
full details: IMDB
overall score: 60

Bottom Line: Must-See
A quintessential example of the genre.

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

It's no secret that the Giallo genre is full of copycat films. The barrage of films released in the 5 years of the genre's classic period are full of black gloves, knife-wielding murderers, amateur detectives, incompetent police inspectors, red herrings and urban landscapes. A few of these films are groundbreaking and some are just guilty pleasures. 

But every so often enthusiasts of the genre will discover an obscure giallo that employs just enough originality to earn it a top spot among their favorites. For me, Pupi Avati's The House with the Laughing Windows is one of those films.

Released in 1976, with over 100 films to draw inspiration from, The House with the Laughing Windows is far from original. The backdrop of rural superstitious Catholicism hearkens back to Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling. And Argento's influence is obvious with the prolonged shots of the dilapidated mansion and the secret waiting to be revealed in a painting under layers of plaster.

But Laughing Windows has a unique visual identity. Instead of a saturated color palate, the film takes on a more "sepia" tone with masterful use of darkness and shadow. And the pacing, while slow in a few spots, employs a good tempo to prep the audience for its sinister climax.

Despite its "classic" status among genre enthusiasts, the film failed to measure up to the leaders of the Giallo Score. Critical points were lost in the Staples section for the omission of black gloves, avoiding capture (which is up for debate!) and the films' place within the history of the genre (i.e. released after the classic period by a "one-off" director).

Nevertheless, Laughing Windows seems to impress anyone who takes the time to watch it. Though not as flashy and stylish as Argento and Bava, the film is very effective in its minimalistic approach to creepiness and delivers one of the most unique endings of the Giallo genre.

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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 35/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Motivation: Psychological Trauma/Revenge10 points
Standards : 18/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Italian Location3 points
More than one killer or accomplice4 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Signatures : 7/10
Attend Funeral1 point
Death from Falling1 point
Foreigner1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Priest1 point
Taunting1 point
Visual Misinterpretation1 point
Total Points : 60/100



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Published: 2014-08-05