• Prince Of The Night



    Released by: One 7 Movies
    Released on: September 9th, 2014.
    Director: Augusto Caminito
    Cast: Klaus Kinski, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasence, Barbara De Rossi, Yorgo Voyagis
    Year: 1988
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    The Movie:

    Let's get one thing straight right off the bat. Why One 7 Movies have chosen to saddle this DVD release of 1988's VAMPIRE IN VENICE with the generic PRINCE OF THE NIGHT title is quite the mystery. But then again, the whole film was a bit of a disaster (albeit an interesting and atmospheric one!), so why not keep the drama going with this odd new title?

    Ostensibly made as a sequel to Werner Herzog's iconic 1979 remake of F.W Murnau's classic film (and starring Klaus Kinski reprising the vampire role), PRINCE OF THE NIGHT had an amazingly convoluted production history. No less than three directors worked on the movie. Uncredited work was long rumored to have been done on the film by the producer and even the likes of lovable schlockmeister Luigi Cozzi (CONTAMINATION). And at the center of this maelstrom was star Kinski - now fully in the grip of the "batshit crazy" phase of his career. Apparently trouble was brewing from day one on the set when the star declared he would not be going through any painful makeup sessions to recreate the character as written (and originally seen) in the Herzog version. So instead of the rat-like visage of 1979 we get a strangely decadent looking long-haired Kinski that brings to mind an androgynous predator.

    The plot centers around Kinski's vampire on a lusty rampage in the city of Venice. As the buxom babes start to fall around town and garner attention, lovely local lass Helietta Canins (Barbara De Rossi), is convinced that her family's Transylvanian ancestry may be a key to the murders. After consulting with her mother Maria (Anne Knecht), the two women reach out to Professor Catalano (Christopher Plummer) to help unravel the mystery. The final slice of ham tossed into this dramatic split pea soup is Donald Pleasence as priest Don Alvise. He ends up being quite handy at interpreting arcane texts while Catalano gets his Van Helsing freak on.

    Most of the plotting in the film wavers between nonsensical and disjointed, leaving the proceedings to survive on casting and atmosphere alone. Luckily, while the film is indeed a train wreck, it is a beautifully shot and quirkily acted one. It's quite interesting to put the film in perspective based on the various positions of the key actors careers during the time they made it. Plummer was in a transitional period between his early stardom and later icon status. Consequently he's the least lively here and often seems slightly bored. He's professional enough, but he doesn't give it the lusty overacting that he provided in enjoyable trash like STARCRASH either. Pleasence was in the twilight of his career and at this point was ironically world famous as horror stalwart Dr. Loomis from the venerable HALLOWEEN franchise. Much like those films at the end of his time in them, Pleasence is in full ham-on-rye mode here. He overacts outrageously but is always fun to watch. The marvelously understated actor of the 50's and 60's was a distant memory at this point but what he does here works just the same.

    Then there is Kinski. By this point the actor had slipped into a form of working insanity that allowed him to still make films but be completely uncontrollable with conventional means. Abandoned for valid reasons by Herzog (after COBRA VERDE the brilliant director realized he simply couldn't deal with Kinski's insanity anymore) Kinski became even more mercenary than usual. He worked based on fees alone and descended into a fire pit of egomania and bad behavior. Deeply misogynistic in many ways he was often accused of being inappropriate with actresses. He also battled directors as a blood sport. Two years after his epic tangles with helmer David Schmoeller on the set of CRAWLSPACE and less than three years away from death by heart attack and his final film PAGANINI, Kinski was beyond any form of control at this point. Like a dangerous cobra he remained fascinating to watch though. He's pretty much the main reason to see PRINCE OF THE NIGHT.

    The other strength of this film is its amazing Venetian location shooting and stellar costuming. This is a good-looking production that never reeks of cheapness and that allows it to coast through otherwise boring or nonsensical segments. The viewers attention is kept. The fact that this is an Italian production loaded with sex and nudity doesn't hurt either.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    One 7 Movies 1.78.1 framed anamorphic widescreen presentation is adequate. Some minor black crush shows up occasionally and the print is in good but not pristine condition. Color balance is good and flesh tones natural. This is an average but perfectly acceptable SD transfer free of digital tinkering.

    Audio is provided by dual Dolby Digital Mono tracks in English and Italian. Since the latter has no English subtitle track it is fairly useless to the majority of you reading this. That said, the bulk of the film was shot with the actors speaking English so I'd imagine that this isn't much of an issue for most of you. In terms of balance and overall character both tracks are well-balanced with few obvious audible anomalies or dropouts. Extras are virtually nonexistent with a small photo gallery of still poster art being the only item.

    The Final Word:

    Nowhere near the excellence of Herzog's film, PRINCE OF THE NIGHT (aka VAMPIRE/NOSFERATU IN VENICE) is an atmospheric and interesting film. Fans of this genre and Kinski should check it out. One 7 Movies have done a decent job with this presentation.