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Image Entertainment presents
The House With Laughing Windows (La Casa Dalle Finestre che Ridono) (1976)

"What an artist! To illustrate death so well."
- Stefano (Lino Capolicchio)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 03, 2003

Stars: Lino Capolicchio, Francesca Marciano
Other Stars: Gianni Cavina, Vanna Busoni, Giulio Pizzirani
Director: Pupi Avati

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:46m:01s
Release Date: June 11, 2003
UPC: 014381331929
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-A-B+ B-

DVD Review

Pupi Avati's eerie 1976 Italian horror film, La Casa Dalle Finestre che Ridono (The House With Laughing Windows) had never been formally released in the U.S., and Image has just recently added it as part of their hit-or-miss Euroshock Collection. A film like Avati's fall under the "hit" category, and while it rambles on a bit too long for its own good, it does supply some positively creepy moments.

Stefano (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis'Lino Capolicchio) takes a job in a remote village in Northern Italy, responsible for restoring an old fresco on the wall of a local church. The painting itself is a real doozy, an agonizingly nasty depiction of the slaughter of St. Sebastian. As Stefano begins the restoration, he is slowly inundated with rumors from the equally spooky townsfolk who have heard stories that the artist Legnani, who supposedly died in 1931, was involved in real-life torture and murder as inspiration for his art. Stefano aligns himself with a sexy young schoolteacher (Francesca Marciano) as he begins to dig for the truth about the long-dead painter, dubbed "The Painter of Agony", and in true horror fashion, what he finds is ultimately not so pleasant. Well, what did you expect?

The House With Laughing Windows is high on setting a tone of uneasiness, and Pupi Avati does that effectively. The village setting is gothic and uninviting, and as the outsider Capolicchio's Stefano has to endure the long, cold stares of the villagers as strange murders occur, macabre tape recordings are discovered and secrets best left buried are brought to the surface. Like the disturbing artwork used ever so briefly in Scanners, The House with Laughing Windows features its own gallery of equally demented paintings, allegedly painted by the mad painter Legnani, and their presence still has the power to give viewers an raw case of the willies.

The sepia-toned opening credit sequence doesn't waste any time establishing Avati's intended giallo tone, and features a bound, screaming nude man being stabbed repeatedly, and is played against Amedeo Tommasi's nerve-rattling two-note score. Sadly, Avati allows the film to drag on a little longer than he should have (some of the longer dialogue-free passages beg to be trimmed) but he does throw out a stunner of a conclusion that is ripe for interpretation, right down to the final frame.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Wow, the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, restored from the original film negative, of this low-budget 1976 film looks like it could have been shot yesterday. It is a real looker all the way around; pristine, nick-free and full of clean, warm colors. The black levels are a little muddy during a couple of night scenes (though far from all), but that is a minor, minor complaint. I can't believe a film like The House With Laughing Windows can look better than something shot a year or two ago, but here's the proof.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: I'm not sure why Image found the need to supply the audio in a head scratching array of DTS, 5.1 and mono, when all three sound very, very similar. While I applaud the effort, its not like the original audio elements were really designed for anything more than simple mono. Still, the presentation on the DTS and 5.1 tracks are nicely done, and there isn't any hiss or crackle to detract from the Italian dialogue. Rear channels are pretty much non-existent, with everything anchored upfront.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Lobby Cards Gallery
Extras Review: Image has included a brand new short entitled 25 Years of Cult (16m:01s), featuring interviews with Pupi Avati, Lino Capolicchio, Antonio Avati, and Amedeo Tommasi. The segment is in Italian, with optional English subtitles, and allows the participants to discuss the film's origins, budget issues, scoring and their individual impressions on the ending. Interesting stuff.

In addition to a filmographies for Pupi Avati, a theatrical trailer and a gallery of seven lobby cards, the disc is cut into 18 chapters, and features optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Image has treated Pupi Avati's House With Laughing Windows royally as part of its Euroshock Collection, not only keeping the original Italian audio track, but offering it in mono, 5.1 and DTS. The image transfer is just about perfect, and the film itself is mucho creepy.


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