Saturday, December 25, 2010


(Pupi Avati, 1976)
The House with Laughing Windows has more in common with The Perfume of the Lady in Black or Footprints on the Moon than it does with the bulk of its gialli brethren. There are no black gloves or razorblades here, nor striking sets or groovy fashions. Typical of the post-Deep Red giallo, THWLW is heavy on the atmosphere, and spirals into all-out horror by the film's shock-twist ending.
Stefano (Lino Capolicchio), an art restorer, is flown to the remote village of Ferrara to work on a crumbling fresco painted by the late Legnani. It comes to light that Legnani was unbalanced, and painted his subjects as they were dying. The subject of the fresco, a bound man bleeding from multiple stab wounds, had been murdered by Legnani's equally insane sisters, neither of whom were seen again after the night of the artist's death.
When his friend is pushed out of a window after informing him of such past atrocities, Stefano is evicted from his current hotel. The village idiot invites Stefano to stay at a moldering villa in the bush where he cares for a bedridden old woman. It seems that someone else, of whom we see no more than an arm, lives in the attic room.
After hearing something strange from upstairs in the night, Stefano explores the attic room and discovers an old tape recorder. It contains Legnani's delusional ramblings about his "colors", and Stefano soon finds himself drawn into the mystery surrounding the painter of death. His inquiries bring him to another rotting farmhouse, this one with bright red smiles painted over the windows and a skeleton buried in the yard...
Pupi Avati, the director of Euro-chiller Zeder, made this one of the best and most original gialli of all time. It's a bit slow by genre standards, and the violence is kept to a minimum, but it builds steam and grows more menacing as the story progresses. The few gore scenes, though obviously low-budget, are effective because they ARE few and far-between. The lighting, soundtrack, and photography contribute immensely to THWLW's gradually-building air of malice and mystery. Very much recommended, though now out of print. Secondhand copies here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

THE OGRE aka Demons 3

(Lamberto Bava, 1988)
Buyer beware: this title has nothing at all to do with Bava's Demons films. That aside, it's an atmospheric, if at times tedious, viewing experience. Bava heaps on the cobwebs and shadows here, and the soundtrack by Simon Boswell helps give a little substance to an otherwise simplistic story that lacks most of the violence and mean-spiritedness that define the bulk of Bava's work.
Cheryl (Virginia Bryant) has been plagued since childhood by nightmares of being stalked by a humanoid beast through a moldering cellar. Her nightmares prove lucrative, as she becomes a best-selling horror author. She, her husband Tom (Paolo Malco), and son Bob take a trip to stay at a rented villa so she can complete her latest novel. Shock and surprise; it's the same villa from her childhood dreams!
After exploring the cellar and finding in it the teddy bear she abandoned there in her nightmare, Cheryl becomes convinced that the villa is cursed, the ogre is real, and that she and her family are in danger. Tom believes this to be a product of her imagination and repressed sexual desires (of course!). So, we are back to a familiar question: is there really an ogre, or is Cheryl going bonkers?
Despite a brief scene of frontal nudity, The Ogre is a strictly made-for-TV affair. It contains little blood, few scares, and almost no violence. In a horror film, one or more of these elements should always be present. Also, the storyline and several of the set pieces are lifted from numerous other films, most notably the underwater scene that was taken directly from father Mario Bava's contribution to Dario Argento's Inferno.
As previously expressed, The Ogre does play up the Gothic horror angle fairly well. There are a few genuinely creepy aspects, The Ogre himself being the creepiest of the lot. I'd leave this title for a rainy day, as Lamberto has better to offer. Buy it here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


(started by Lucio Fulci, finished by Bruno Mattei...dear gawd...1988)
A warning to the viewer: if you wish to kill yourself in a slow, agonizing manner, purchase Zombi 3 here. I thought I'd give you a heads-up just in case I don't survive the review. Oh yeah, it's another survivors and scientists versus zombies and the military movie. Like we needed another.
2:20 PM
So here it is; the film that broke Fulci's spirit. You know a product is rotten if Fulci wouldn't even complete it. They had to bring in Bruno Mattei to finish it. Oh yes, and it's written by CLAUDIO FRAGASSO, creator of such cinematic abortions as Troll 2. Someone please stop me.
2:40 PM
I've delayed as long as I can. I'm going to brave Zombi 3 a second time so I can get some screenshots. Dear God, please help me. Really...I'm crying out for help, but no one's listening! Alright, I'm doing it then. Fine. I'm really going to do it. This may well be the end of me.
4:00 PM
I did it. I acshuly watched it again, and madeit out with minml brain dmg. What a horribleugly movie. Makes no senses. How didthe zombie head fly out of the fridge and why is everything soft-focusss?? It stars Deran Serafian and Beatrice ring Deranserafian n Betricering?whydoes theasian djsound like hesblack?
4:30 PM
notsure what happind the last 30mins i dont remember anythig...ZOMBI3!!!OHGOD I remembernow, plez go away...the acting! the dialogues n...owwww THE MUSIC pleasestopthemusic...zombie birds???
7:00 PM
i raped my headwith a towl now my ears r bleading and all I can here is stefano mainetti andhis cursed casio im goig tocallthe hospitl fragassoYOU BASTARDWHATDID U DO TOM E?
1:00 AM
woke up inapuddle of brains npiss bythe fone n my hed hurts youbastards i WANtmy head back
12:30 PM
Am going to kill the roommate for putting acid in my protein shake again. Now what was this all about?