Saturday, June 24, 2017

The House of the Laughing Windows

The House of the Laughing Windows (1976) is a fun little film and so engaging and well done that my wife (NOT a horror fan at all) was not only watching, but very interested. This is always a badge of honor for a horror film in our house. It's a major accomplishment.

This is another slow burn nugget recommended by GIALLO_GIALLO on Twitter. And, I'm so happy he mentioned it. I really enjoyed it!

The story is a little gothic number about Stefano who visits a small town to restore a painting that was found in a church. The artist was rather famous in his own way - known as an artist who could really capture pain and sorrow. As Stefano slowly reveals the painting as he restores it, he also starts to unravel a mystery in the town.

The slow nature of the film really allows you to sink into it and it's characters. I was really invested in Stefano's journey and the people he meets along the way. This was do to the acting of Lino Capolicchio. He does a great job in the role.  Francesca Marciano is great as Stepfano's girlfriend, Francesca. Everything comes together is a fantastic and awful way. hehehe

Pupi Avati's (Revenge of the Dead) direction is pretty good, but it's really the writing that brings it all together. The mystery elements devised by Antonio Avati and Pupi Avati was what made this film stand out as a grand giallo offering.

If you're in the mood to sink into a good giallo mystery that doesn't focus on too many violent elements or gore, definitely check out THE HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS. It's a great little tale!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Perfume of the Lady in Black

The Perfume of the Lady in Black ( Il profumo della signora in nero) from 1974 is a wild little tale of madness and deception. Poor Mimsy Farmer plays Silvia Hacherman and is put through a series of horrid events, frights, and visions in the same way she was tormented in Autopsy. But, who...or driving her to the brink of madness?

This is a really slow burn, but the story is pretty strong. And Mimsy does "I'M LOSING MY MIND!!!" well, too, so the acting is somewhat believable. However, some may see the film as something that would have made a fantastic NIGHT GALLERY offering - coming in at 25 to 40 minutes instead of it's 1 hour 43 minute run time. I had it on in the background while working on low level production tasks, so it sped by for me! Might be a good way to watch if you have something like laundry folding to do.

However, things do pay off, so I think this odd little offering from Francesco Barilli (Hotel Fear) is well worth a watch with the lights down low. It's a strange film with echos of films made around the same time like DON'T LOOK NOW, MESSIAH OF EVIL and SISTERS. It takes it's time and tells a pretty good tale and there is enough atmosphere and unanswered questions scattered through the film to keep it interesting.

Check it. 

(( Special thanks to GIALLO GIALLO for the recommend on Twitter! ))

A Blade in the Dark

A BLADE IN THE DARK (La casa con la scala nel buio) from 1983 kinda falls into the "so bad it's good" territory. It's really not a great film, but I had fun watching it and thought I'd give it a little shout out here. 

The plot is super simple. A music composer is put up in a villa to score a horror movie. The woman making the movie visits every once in a while as does the "wacky neighbor" and even more wacky girlfriend....and some other people that are lingering around. And, yup...people start to get bumped off one by one and the bodies are disappeared. 

For me, I pretty much knew exactly where this was going at the first kill. By the second, I had no doubt in my mind. Towards the end, I had my wife giggling as she half paid attention and I called out exactly what was going to happen right before it happened. 


It's ham fisted and basic, but it had a sort of charm to it. It's a competent film and looks very nice indeed, but the plodding, lumbering plot and set pieces are painful for the most part. There are some great gialli moments that are well worth the viddy. Some of the more tense moments are handled really well. It's just the jumbled, forced filler around these moments that tend to be hard to sit through. 

Lamberto Bava's direction was grand, but doesn't have the fun, kinetic qualities DEMONS and DEMONS 2 had. The writing of Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti  was really the real killer here. hehehe  Odd, too - I love HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, ZOMBI, DEMONS, and THE BEYOND. Sadly, A Blade in the Dark leans more towards MANHATTAN BABY's drifting plot lines.

Worth taking a look if time allows.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Black Belly of the Tarantula

While this isn't the strongest giallo I've seen, BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA's main concept is super nasty.

A killer is using a paralyzing agent to "freeze" his victims before cruelly stabbing them. Yes, they are paralyzed and awake as he carves into them. Giancarlo Giannini plays the detective on the case - Inspector Tellini.

Nasty business.

There are many stylish elements in the film and the Argento and Bava influences are very evident.  I believed the story was rather strong for the most part, but in looking over other reviews, it seems to garnish some hate for some reason. I'm not sure why. People were growling about wanting their time back and how the twists were silly. However, I'm of the opinion that these just are not giallo lovers and they don't get the gag.

This isn't a "straight slasher". It's a giallo and a good one at that. A fun crime drama mystery with some great set pieces, cool style,  and a solid story!

I watched SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS afterwards and heard a very similar soundtrack along with the lovely Barbara Bach's lovely face. Ennio Morricone used a similar "breathy breathing woman" for the soundtrack to each film.  Maybe he crafted both scores at the same time to expedite the situation....and payments. :)

Monday, June 19, 2017


Ok, Armando Crispino, what were you on when you and  Lucio Battistrada wrote AUTOPSY back in 1975?! hehehehehehe   This, too, is on my FAVE GIALLO FILMS LIST, but not for the same reasons THE FIFTH CORD and STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER are. This falls under the WTF?! catagory where you watch, giggle, and mutter What the F$%&?! under your breath while smiling.

Mimsy Farmer (Four Flies on Grey Velvet) plays Simona Sanna - a doctor whose a pro at autopsies. I think. Yeah...sure...let's go with that. :::grin:::  It's REALLY hot in Italy and, subsequently, a bunch of people are committing suicide. Because....I guess that's what you do in the heat. flares. Or not. Moving on. She's starting to see things. Like her cadavers getting up and making love. It happens. She has a boyfriend played by Ray Lovelock (The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) who I've knighted "THE MOST PATIENT BOYFRIEND ON THE PLANET". He's constantly trying to make love to Simona only to have her stop midway due to some random flash of a dead person that sends her racing away screaming. He's a good spot about it and just tells her everything will be alright. (...then he plunges his goods into a bucket of ice water for the fifth time....)  Then there's a priest.....or is he.....with anger issues. A pervy groundskeeper....with anger issues. Even a DOG with anger issues. Basically, everyone including the dog seems like a complete loon.

So, is Simona crazy, or is someone trying to driver her mad? And....why? And....who?

Really, none of that mattered tome at all. I just loved watching everyone FREAK OUT in every scene! hehehehe  Simona and her visions of death. A priest beating the hell out of the groundskeeper. The groundskeeper perving on Simona...who subsequently yanks up her dress screaming, "YOU WANT AND ENCORE?!" and storming off. It's a good thing it's supposed to be hot - poor Mimsy seems like she's constantly having wardrobe malfunctions.

The film is BONKERS and the wondrous ending made me super happy. I think this would make a fantastic group watch as long as the folks involved had a wacky sense of humor. The performances and while plot twists and characters make this a really enjoyable watch.  I have Armando Crispino's other film THE DEAD ARE ALIVE on deck. I'm hoping for more silly madness! :)

Nasty bit of business

The Fifth Cord

THE FIFTH CORD (Giornata nera per l'ariete) from 1971 is one of my new favorite giallo films. (This blog is rapidly becoming a giallo blog!)  Like STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER, it represents things all giallo films should have. Featured here are beautiful women, a strong crime mystery element, a dashing investigator, and of course J&B whiskey which is a personal favorite of mine now that I've seen it in so many films. :::grin:::

The plot is classic gialli. A woman is killed and the search is on for her killer. But then more and more bodies start piling up and the search becomes more frantic as the awesome Franco Nero's drunk reporter character tries to solve the goings on before more deaths occur.

Nero is great in this. I've been a fan for a while and really need to track down more of his performances. He's like the Italian Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry era. Something like that. He has this machismo that always has me thinking, "I really should aim to be more like Nero in life." heh

But, the wondrous Silvia Monti really set me spinning here. She's striking. She has that classic Italian beauty that makes her look like she's been crafted out of bronze. But...I digress. :) She's fantastic in the film and the tensions between her and Nero are fun to watch play out.

The pace of the film and the writing really keep this film rolling along. Characters are introduced in interesting ways and, as the events play out, I was really making an effort to figure out was was going on and why. It didn't disappoint!

Luigi Bazzoni's direction was super solid. I was actually rather surprised to see that he only had 12 film credits to his name - two of which were shorts and 5 others documentaries. He seemed to really know his stuff. I need to seek more out.

The film has a great style to it overall. Things are very interesting visually, but not over the top and overdone. It just seemed like there were some real thinkers on set and that they wanted to take some risks and make an effort to make something that stood out.

And they did! THE FIFTH CORD is well worth a viddy!

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Room at the Top of the Stairs

From IMDB:
"A young artist feels overshadowed by a charismatic and dangerous girl she's never met." (I removed the second line of description because I think it gives too much away) 

Another interesting SHUDDER short film offering THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS (2010)  had me staring, wondering, and interested. Write/Director Briony Kidd told an interesting story for sure. I'm just wondering if the nuanced tale and acting was a tad too subtle. Not sure a bigger push would have made this a better film or if it would have just taken it into a silly area that was too heavy handed. It's interesting to think through. I wonder if that came up in the scripting process.

The film is REALLY well shot and the acting is super solid. The 15 minutes is paced expertly and shows off Kidd's talents on both the writing and directing fronts is a very professional way. The story had me hooked and I was very interested in where it was going. And, best yet, when it got there, I wasn't disappointed. I loved that it wasn't heavy handed, now that I think about it. The subtlety was warranted and left me with a little smile playing on my lips. :)

The film's lead Fiannah de Rue is grand. She really owns the role and plays shy and curious without forcing things into over dramatic territory. I need to check out some of her other films for sure.

I hope Briony Kidd has a feature film brewing!

The Bloodstained Butterfly

I took in THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY (Una farfalla con le ali insanguinate - 1971) on SHUDDER recently and....I liked it? It's a strange little film and an interesting crime giallo (unlike some other more slasher giallo films) with a strong storyline that really keeps things moving, but in odd ways.

The spoiler free synopsis is that a young woman is killed and rolls down a hill in front of several witnesses. A man flees the scene of the crime and in true gialli style, we don't see who it is. The police investigate and the plot rolls out a series of trials to see if the man is guilty or not. Did he kill this poor 17 year old girl or is something else going on?

And things get rather odd from there. There are subplots all over and it's almost like watching two different movies at one time at one point. I was riveted as I tried to sort out what was happening and why. I was invested and I loved that I was!

Some giallo films are just a means to bloody endings of pretty men and women. There's some insane plot that has someone killing folks off one by one to hide their involvement in a crime or dastardly happening. There are often scenes of someone saying, "OH! It's YOU!" before being dispatched. However the Bloodstained Butterfly is really a straight crime procedural until the third act. An act that had me saying, "Wait...what?! Are you SERIOUS?!" out loud because I couldn't believe where things went. I really dug it.

On the production side, it's on more of the A list than the comical B list. The dubbing was well done, the camera work is rather good, and the acting is super solid. So, you won't be left giggling at comically goofy voice dubbing here. The director - Duccio Tessari - is probably best known for films like A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, but he also did a bunch of "sandal and sand" Hercules films in the 60s.

 It may not be my favorite giallo movie, but I was happy that I made time to watch it. It's solid and well worth a viddy! Check it!