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!



To mark the highly anticipated DVD and Blu-ray release of the thriller that smashed the box office, The Pact, over the next few weeks, leading up to the film’s release, we’ll be guiding you through cinema’s most spookiest, scariest, creepiest and eeriest genre of all time; the ever popular ghost film. So, sit back, turn the lights down low, fondle your ouija board and pull your bed covers close, as we guide you through the history of cinematic ghosts. From the very birth of cinema to the present day. It’s all here – with a new blog each and every day, just for you! So, enjoy…

For thousands of years, ghosts, ghouls, entities and spirits of all kinds have haunted man’s mind. Popping up in literature, movies, television, paintings, music and anywhere and everywhere else, we’re obsessed with the moans and the groans of the transluscent dead. Dating back as far as far as the 1890s with the  silent, short and sweet (often no more than a minute or two) movies of Thomas Edison and other film pioneers, it has always been fascinated with the spooky.

Some of the very first moving images were of the grizzly and macabre nature. These include Thomas Edison’s 1 minute short of Topsy the elephant being electrocuted to death or, even earlier still, the 1895 short titled The Execution Of Mary, Queen Of Scots in which Mary is beheaded. Take a look at it here – I guarantee you’ll be convinced it’s real, even by today’s standards! These films and several others started a trend in cinema that has continued to grow and grow; the spectacle of death, gore and violence. Now we have Saw, Martyrs, Friday The 13th, Blood Feast – all films that make a spectacle of gore and death.

Original poster for Georges Méliès The House Of The Devil

So, it wasn’t much longer until ghosts and the supernatural begin to show up, and who better to send shivers up the folks of the 19th century, than Georges Méliès?! Yes, the man recently celebrated in Hugo.  Méliès was supposedly responsible for using the jump cut to create some incredible effects – a trick he apparently discovered by accident! Well, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the very first ‘horror’ and vampire film, The House Of The Devil (aka The Haunted Castle) from 1896!  Running for 3 minutes (an impressive spectacle in itself back then!) the film shows Méliès perfecting his art of making things suddenly appear out of nowhere on film. Here is that very film…

Soon what followed was a whole flood of freaky tales of the supernatural. Méliès continued to deliver the goods with The Cabinet of Mephistopheles in 1897 and before you could scream “Yipes!”, ghosts were truly haunting these short films – many of which would be shown at carnivals and fairs (with ghost trains and freak shows). Edison, ever the money man, jumped on the haunted bandwagon in 1900 and released the comical Uncle Josh’s Nightmare (part of a series of Uncle Josh sketches)  along with British director George Albert Smith’s The Corsican Brothers (1898) and several others. Many of these directors had previously worked on stage often as illusionists and/or magicians – perfect practice!

It wasn’t long until the ghost classics of literature where soon adapted for the moving picture screen.  From 1901 to 1913, A Christmas Carol was turned into a short film four times (and you thought today’s Hollywood remakes were bad!), followed then by Macbeth in 1916!

Still from British director, Walter R. Booth Scrooge (1901)

So, as you can see, ghosts have been making a (silent!) racket since the very birth of film and have continued to get even more popular over the years.

Check out tomorrow’s blog for the next installment!

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