Sunday, 24 May 2015
The House with Laughing Windows (1976)
The weirdness starts from the very beginning. The following voice-over plays whilst a young man is shown being stabbed to death:
"My colours... my colours...
They run hot in my veins...
So soft, my colours...
My colours are soft, like Autumn,
they are like fresh blood...
They are smooth like syphilis
And they... they get into people's eyes
they flow through my veins
and they get far... far away
Yes they go far.
One must die for them.
Oh my lord, I must purge myself
get them out. Out...
These are the colours. All my colours
Son of a bitch
Here we come. My Lord, I feel death coming
I need purity, I need to be pure.
Keep him still."
The premise is pretty Lovecraftian. A young artist starts work restoring a fresco of Saint Sebastian (symbolically pierced with knives rather than arrows) and uncovers a story of torture and madness in the idyllic Italian countryside!
The House with Laughing Windows is full of strange characters, surreal imagery and the bizarre superimposed over the normal; it almost seemed like a David Lynch film. Everything is slightly off-kilter. Like the village is in a different, distorted plane of reality. The colours are lurid, too bright, too vivid, unreal, like a grotesque painting by the mad artist featured in the film's plot!
While it may not have a black gloved killer this is most definitely giallo, but giallo of a strange sort. There's an outsider as the investigator, the macabre, disturbing phone calls, interesting architecture, a shed-load of strange and suspicious characters, red herrings, sex, perversion, insanity, obsession, death, blood, and a dream like quality. Giallo. Then there's the mouse cooking advice, the refrigerator full of snails, the odd flower lady (or, going back to Lynch, the log lady).
You can definitely see where Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani got their inspiration from for Amer and All the Colours of Your Body's Tears, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was an influence on TV's The League of Gentlemen.
The House with Laughing Windows is a rural giallo with a screenplay by H.P. Lovecraft (the madness, if not the cosmic horror) and directed by an Italian David Lynch. I'd love to see this on Blu-Ray!
Pupi Avati, you mad bastard!
Original letterboxd review