Franca (Beatrice Romand) was given a yellow carpet as a wedding present from her mother and step father when she married Antonio (Vittorio Mezzogiorno). Since the carpet is too big for their living room they decide to put an ad in the paper selling it. The first day the ad appears in the paper Franca gets a phone call from a man who is interested in buying it. Before the man arrives a call comes in from the concierge telling them that the police are towing away the car. Antonio goes downstairs to handle the problem. After he leaves the prospective buyer (Erland Josephson) shows up at the door. He says he wants to see the carpet.
As soon as he enters his manner and the tone of his conversation starts to change. He becomes confrontational and critical. Franca begins to fear for her safety. He tells her that he was in prison for murdering his wife for cheating on him. He explains everything to her in detail. He then tells her that her husband hired him to kill her. He terrorizes her and keeps her at knife point preventing her from escaping. Although she first refuses he forces her to record a message about her mother and stepfather. His mind games are confusing her and she is basically doing and saying whatever he says for fear that he will kill her. The phone rings. He is distracted by who he says is her husband on the phone. Franca manages to get the knife and stab the man repeatedly. The man had disabled the phone so Franca can’t call out. She begins to run from the apartment. When she opens the door there is a woman standing there.
She says she is the man’s wife (Milena Vukotic). She tells Franca that her husband use to be an actor but a car accident affected his memory. Sometimes he goes off and pretends he is looking to buy something advertized in the paper and when he gains access to someone’s house he invents wild stories. She says he is really harmless but people get upset and call the police on him. She is trying to find him to bring him home. By now Franca is confused and upset. She just killed a man. She manages to get the Professor’s wife out of the house. She then hears something coming from the living room. The tape recording is running. She goes in to turn it off and the Professor’s hand reaches out and grabs her arm. Franca passes out.
When she awakes the man is gone, the carpet is gone and Antonio is there. There is no evidence in the apartment that he was ever there. Franca firmly believes that what she experienced really happened. Antonio tells her that it was all a dream and that she was asleep all morning. He says he sold the carpet while she was asleep. Franca is adamant about what she experienced but is also completely confused. Antonio listens to her story and reassures her that none of it was real. But Antonio is hiding secrets and things are not what they seem to be for either one of them.
“The House of the Yellow Carpet” AKA “La casa del tappeto giallo” was released in 1983 and was directed by Carlo Lizzani. It is a crime mystery psychological thriller and a lesser known Italian giallo. As far as I know it is Lizzani’s only giallo film. I don’t believe the movie ever had a theatrical release in other countries just video so its obscurity is not without logic.
I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with so many unexpected twists and turns and misdirection around every corner. All of them fascinating. I’m not sure it qualifies as giallo since it doesn’t actually contain a lot of the traditional gialli tropes. What it does have is lots of suspense and a great plot. Through most of the movie you are fully convinced that you know what is happening. Suddenly things change and you think, OK there is the plot twist that changes the movie. But you’re only half way through the film. Then the turn happens. Then there’s another twist, and then another turn. Before this dizzying ride ends you’ve gone through a corkscrew of surprises right up to the very end.
There are basically only four people in the movie but you go through quite a few characters. Erland Josephson in particular plays many roles all in the same person, and does them wonderfully. There isn’t a lot of mindless gore or sex in the film either. The movie takes place mostly in one apartment and earns its reputation as being claustrophobic.
It is supposedly taken from a stage play called “Theater at Home” by Aldo Selleri. As for Aldo Selleri I couldn’t find anything that proved he ever existed let alone that he penned a play called “Theater at Home”. All the references I could find on either one all circled back on one another. It kinda fits in with the plot of the film.