DVD: Nosferatu in Venice / Nosferatu a Venezia / Vampire in Venice / Prince of the Night (1988)

March 6, 2020 | By

Film: Weak

Transfer:  Good

Extras: n/a

Label:  One 7 Movies

Region: 1 (NTSC)

Released:  September 9, 2014

Genre:  Horror

Synopsis: A professor attempts to trap legendary vampire Nosferatu in this very messy attempt to follow in the footsteps of the 1979 film.

Special Features:  (none)




Begun as an attempt by producer Augusto Caminito to craft a sequel to Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu (1979), Klaus Kinski’s third-last feature film is inexplicably given a faux title by One 7 Movies – a wholly unnecessary move, given the infamy of this cinematic mess.

According to a French language Narnarland interview with Luigi Cozzi, original director Maurizio Lucidi was replaced by Pasquale Squittieri, who wrote a new script before actual filming was commenced by his replacement, director Marco Caiano. After two days of shooting, producer Caminito took over direction, with Cozzi handling second unit. (Kinski claimed to have directed a few bits himself.) Production was halted mid-way when funds ran dry, and the film was released after two years of editorial tinkering as a sequel in name only.

In spite of top-billing, Kinski spends most of the film wandering through foggy streets in what resembles a hastily scheduled single night of handheld filming, and his onscreen time is considerably less than second-billed Christopher Plummer, who manages to maintain dignity as a rather middling vampire hunter named Prof. Catalano.

Catalano is summoned to Venice when Princess Canins (very naked Barbara De Rossi) suspects the bolted coffin in the basement may contain evil Nosferatu. Her priest, Father Alvise (bored Donald Pleasence, eating a great deal of hors d’oeuvres to kill lengthy seated and standing screen time), becomes quite unhappy when a medium is brought in and ‘alerts’ Nosferatu – or so the re-editing seems to infer – after he’s been living among gypsies skilled in midnight Flamenco celebrations.

When Nosferatu finally reaches Venice, he kills the Princess’ mother, scalds Catalano’s hands, and snatches Canins’ suicidal younger sister (super-naked Maria Cumani Quasimodo) quite literally in a Superman maneuver, whisking her off to a disintegrating villa with his new harem of hotties. As Catalano explains, Only Love Can Kill Nosferatu, but robbed of actual love, Nosferatu must continue to suffer the monotony of immortality.

The start-stop, restarted-shut down production and rewriting could never have made a fluid film, but equally bizarre is the story’s setting, flip-flopping between candlelit turn-of-the-century, electrified mid-century, and late-1980s. While Plummer wears an 18th century cape, the clothes of stiff Yorgo Voyagis, who plays a doctor, are as 1980s as the Princess’ sunglasses, worn in the film’s hunting prologue.

Kinski, who hides out among a gypsy encampment lit by car headlights, looks like an aging punk / New Age rocker with hair extensions and dark eyeliner, and the finale in which Nosferatu carries the bare bodkin of his dead love through Venice may recall a similar scene of extreme grieving in Tinto Brass’ Caligula, but it looks absolutely ridiculous, especially when the fog machines failed to cover up distant Venetian onlookers in the near distance.

Much of the film is tracked with music from Vangelis’ Mask album with just occasionally effective results (plus original cues by Luigi Ceccarelli), but the music runs out just before the End Credits are done.

The cinematography exploits gorgeous locations and set décor, but sloppy editing, the use of obvious outtakes and trims, and handheld camerawork add to the film’s spastic tone. The DVD transfer is watchable and includes English and unsubtitled Italian dub tracks, but the former is harmed by massive audio compression reminiscent of an old Real Audio streaming file.

Strangely, after surviving the ordeal of this messy production, Caminito produced Kinski’s next film as actor-director-writer-editor, the indulgent, frenetic Paganini (1989), and the little-seen Grandi Cacciatori / White Hunter (1990), Kinski’s final film.

Actress Quasimodo had small parts in All the Colors of the Dark (1972), Women’s Prison (1974), and, er, Caligula (1979), whereas De Rossi appeared in several Italian TV series, including La stagione dei delitti (2007) and Un cyclone in famiglia (2008).



© 2014; revised 2015 and 2020 by Mark R. Hasan





External References:
Editor’s BlogIMDB  —  Composer Filmographies: Vangelis Luigi Ceccarelli
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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