When it comes to cult Italian horror films, a few notorious names instantly spring to mind. From Lucio Fulci to Ruggero Deodato, Dario Argento and Mario Bava; there’s no doubt that these directors are some of the best names in cult Italian cinema. But with Shameless Screen Entertainment’s upcoming release of one of the greatest and most atmospheric gialli, The House With Laughing Windows, what better time than now, to look at the man responsible for this eerie thriller; Pupi Avati. Having directed over 40 films and television show, his career has spanned many genres from buddy comedies and even a musical, but he’ll always be best-known for his gripping horror films!

His film career kicked off instantly with a  little horror film titled Balsamus l’uomo di Satana (AKA. Blood Relations – The Man Of Satan). With the tagline ‘Grotesque ‘Bordello’ of Nightmares!’ and it’s surreal, twisted nature, you’d be mistaken for thinking Pupi Avati’s future would be gushing with blood, gore and gruel. However, his entries in the horror genre have been low on guts, but high on tension!

In 1976, Avati created his masterpiece. The House With The Laughing Windows takes the giallo genre (which was beginning to fade) into frightening new lands. What can be described as Don’t Look Now meets Fulci’s Don’t Torture A Duckling, this giallo  is set away from the hussle-bustle swinging cities and deliberately subverts the gratuitous nudity and violence that this ‘genre’ had become known for. Instead, we’re treated to a Gothically stylistic rural thriller, drenched and entombed in an eerie atmosphere, taking reference from the best of Mario Bava.

His next cult success came six years later with the bizarre zombie film, Zeder. Dipping his toes into the genre, Avati’s surreal, mesmeric fingerprints can be seen stamped all over this movie. While Italian cinema was bombarded with throat-rippings, flesh-eating and shotgun blasts to the face in the hugely popular zombie boom, once again Avati gives us something much more refined. This chiller ditches the gore for a moody, dark and, again, atmospheric classic.

Since these two incredible movies, Pupi Avati has dabbled with the horror genre with very successful results. In the mid-90s, his film The Arcane Encounter proved once again his talent, with Guillermo del Toro being one of it’s biggest fans!

But don’t be fooled into thinking that Avati doesn’t have a sleazy side. Whilst his directed films may be classy, some of the screenplays he’s written are anything but! Helping to pen Lamberto Bava’s first movie, Macabre, Avati is also responsible for writing the super controversial Salo!

Shameless Screen Entertainment’s THE HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS is out Monday 19th November. Pre-order yours here!


The Phantom Carriage's German Poster

Continuing on with our ghoulish venture into the history of haunted cinema, we head straight into the 1920s. Film had changed drastically since the last blog. No longer where films restricted to being merely a couple of minutes long, but had since become even more lavish. The US was enjoying an economic boom which helped build up the big Hollywood studios, but elsewhere budget restrictions were giving way to some of the most beautiful, artistic and jaw-droppingly awesome films, especially with the German Expressionist movement including Metropolis (1927).

German Expressionist films like Nosferatu and The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari were being celebrated like crazy. Whilst short lived, the movement’s influence can still be seen today (hello Tim Burton!) and many of these directors would be encouraged to come to Hollywood in later years and create some truly impressive masterpieces (mainly Film Noir). Following quickly on the German’s heels were the swedes. There’s more to Sweden than ABBA, meatballs and women – much more! In fact, one of the great films of the 1920s was the ghost film, The Phantom Carriage.  Directed by Victor Sjöström in 1921, The Phantom Carriage (orig. Körkarlen ) tells the terrifying tale of a hooded coachman (think ol’ Grim Reaper) who is cursed to take the souls of the dead.

Based upon a book of the same German title and recently released on DVD & Blu-ray , this film has become a classic! The legendary  Ingmar Bergman was a huge fan of this film and reportedly watched it at least every year. Take a look at this clip from the film too. Spot anything it may have influenced?

Yep, that’s right! Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining!

Besides this and the brilliant original The Cat And The Cannary (remade a few years later with the hilarious Bob Hope) and several more (!) Christmas Carol movie adaptations, ghost films of the 20s were quite quiet, which is no wonder really since the term ‘horror genre’ had yet to be defined. When Universal’s instant hit, Dracula burst onto the screens, scared eager audiences and gave birth to the Horror Film officially, it wasn’t long until ghosts joined in the spooking fun. A whole array of titles quickly followed, most of which were low budget. Included here is Supernatural, The Ghost Walks, The Ghost Goes West and several others.

Join us tomorrow for one of the greatest classic Haunted House films of all time…

Pre-order this incredible ghostly thriller here!

Break-out horror movie smash of the year that has been electrifying hardened genre fans and non-horror fans alike, “The Pact” combines the supernatural terrors of “Paranormal Activity” with the tense atmospherics of a serial killer thriller to create a unique, modern-day take on the classic ghost story.

And it’s out on October 1st! Pre-order yours here.

Previous Parts:


PageLines Themes