Pupi Avati's rural yellow-pager has achieved near-legendary status since first rearing its head over two and a half decades ago. In fact, The House With Windows That Laugh is probably at the top of hundreds of genre buffs' 'Most Wanted' lists, though viewing opportunities have usually been confined to 4th-gen Italian bootleg tapes, with no subtitles. Now, Avati's classic chiller can at last be fully appreciated with a DVD offering stunning picture quality and, crucially, English subtitles.
Set in a small Italian vilage, THWWTL concerns an artist named Stefano (Capolicchio) who arrives at the local church intending to complete the restoration of a fresco depicting the gory demise of St Sebastian. After receiving a phone call warning him "Don't touch the fresco", Stefano gradually learns about his predecessor; Legnani , 'The painter of agony', who died before he could finish his work. After experiencing a disconcerting series of events - strange cries in the night, unexplained fatalities, bunches of flowers left for a man who wasn't there (or was he?) - Stefano moves closer to solving the enigma of Legnani and his two manipulative sisters.
Those familiar with Avati via the excellent Zeder, and his splendid spooker, The Arcane Enchanter, will find Windows to be an even more impressive work. Set to a suitably ominous score, this is without doubt one of Italy's most compulsive offerings, with a real slowburner of a fuse moving towards a climax that will, I promise, leave you sitting in stunned silence. With beautifully understated performances from Capolicchio and Francesca Marciano (Sefano's lover), plus the kind of magisterial direction associated with prime-time Bava and Argento, Windows is nothing short of a revelation; a holy grail that, after years in the wilderness, is now available in all its colourful glory. Rejoice and be merry.