• Nosferatu In Venice (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: March 20th, 2021.
    Director: Augusto Caminito
    Cast: Klaus Kinski, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasence, Barbara De Rossi, Yorgo Voyagis
    Year: 1988
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    Nosferatu In Venice – Movie Review:

    Previously released on DVD as Prince Of The Night and better also known as Vampires In Venice (which is the title used on the transfer for this release), 1988’s Nosferatu In Venice was made as an unofficial sequel/follow up (maybe almost ten years too late to be a complete cash-in?) to Werner Herzog's Nosferatu: The Vampyre. The film was directed by some combination of Mario Caiano, Luigi Cozzi, Maurizio Lucidi, producer Augusto Caminito and possibly Klaus Kinski himself (the included documentary does a great job of exploring this – see below for details). It’s pretty well established that this was a very tumultuous production indeed. Then again, pretty much any production with Kinski attached to it could fall into that category, his temper tantrums having since become the stuff of legend.

    The film, as you could probably guess, is set in Venice where our lead vampire (Kinski with a flowing mane of white hair, no longer the bald, rat-like creature he was in the Herzog original) is skulking around the city and preying upon its populace. As a few bodies are discovered, Professor Catalano (Christopher Plummer) is brought in to help a beautiful young woman named Helietta Canins (Barbara De Rossi). Her mother, Maria Canins (Anne Knecht), believes that their Transylvanian ancestry ties them to the murders and given that there's a strange coffin stored in the tomb belonging to Canin family, she just might be right.

    Meanwhile, a kindly Catholic priest named Don Alvise (Pleasence) does what he can to decipher ancient books that may or may not hold the key to locating and stopping the city's vampire problem before all of its sexy young women are turned into dinner!

    Given the issues keeping a director in place it's not too surprising that it is the cast that make this one interesting. Barbara De Rossi is beautiful as the female lead and a good casting choice to be sure. Plummer is in ‘paycheck' mode and overdoes it a bit here and there but not necessarily to the film's detriment. He's effectively the vampire's foil, the Van Helsing to his Dracula, and while he always brought a sense of regal classiness to almost everything he worked on, his heart doesn't seem in it this time around even if he is fun to watch. It's interesting to see him here. Donald Pleasence sort of hams his way through his supporting role in that way that Donald Pleasence does, which brings us to Kinski. Despite the similar titles, this picture feels more like Kinski's own Paginini than it does Herzog's masterpiece of gothic horror. The actor plays the role with a very human appearance, looking very much like the long haired aristocrat he played in Paginini and affording both roles a similar sense of pomp and arrogance. This is interesting and sometimes unintentionally bizarre but he definitely brings a darkness to the role that makes him enjoyable to watch, even if he's not always ‘vampiric' in the way you might expect him to be.

    Additionally, even when the story hops around and things get more than a little disjointed, the movie rarely wants for atmosphere. There are times even when the pacing starts to lag a bit that the movie remains completely watchable simply because it really does do a great job of showcasing its location through some excellent cinematography. The costuming is also quite ornate and seemingly very authentic. This helps immensely when it comes to overlooking some of the film's more obvious flaws. There are a few more flashbacks here than would seem necessary and occasionally characters pop up in the movie briefly never to be seen again and without really contributing much to the story.

    The film plays more towards exploitation in that it features quite a bit of (admittedly not unwelcome) nudity and sex whereas Herzog's picture really only alluded to that type of thing. Differences aside, however, Nosferatu In Venice, as mixed up as it is, should prove worth a watch for those with an interest in Kinski's filmography or a taste for more esoteric and obscure Eurocult fare.

    Nosferatu In Venice – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings Nosferatu In Venice to Blu-ray an a 50GB disc with the feature given 28.7GBs of space and framed at 1.77.1 widescreen. Presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and taken from a new 2k scan of the original negative, there are moments when the transfer struggles with compression but aside from that, it looks quite good. Offering a noticeable upgrade over the One 7 Movies DVD release (which was done under the title Prince Of The Night) from 2014, the film is a grainy one but for a movie that has always had a fairly dark hazy look to it looks decent if never mind-blowing.

    Audio options are provided in English and Italian language options in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with English SDH subtitles included for the English track and English subtitles for the Italian track. No problems to note with the audio, both tracks are properly balanced and quite clean and clear.

    Creation is Violent – Anecdotes From Kinski’s Final Years is an eighty-one-minute featurette presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition with 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 English language audio and optional English subtitles that does a fascinating deep dive into Kinski’s final years in front of the camera. Directed by Josh Johnson, this covers the films he made from 1985 until 1991, such as Crawlspace, Creature, Kommando Leopard, Nosferatu In Venice, Paganini and a few others. Actress Diane Salinger talks about how excited she was to act alongside Kinski until she started hearing stories about him, production Stefano Spadoni talks about working with him on Paganini. Director Michael Schulz, actor Barry Hickey, actor Abbott Alexander, actress Debora Caprioglio (who knew Kinski on a much more personal level as she had a relationship with him), SFX man Gabe Bartolos, director David Schmoeller, director Uli Lommell, actress Jocelyn Lew, director Luigi Cozzi, producer Augusto Camintino, director Mario Caiano, sound man Luicano Muratori, unit manager Stefano Spadoni and a few others also appear here. There are lots of great stories about what he was like to work with on some of these later-period projects, how he was to direct, the quality of his acting and how his 'whole thing was leaping into the abyss.' Kinski is described as 'consuming' to be around and 'terrifying' to be around, we learn how he dealt with the press and how committed he was to bringing his characters to life on screen. There's lots of talk about his ego, but he's also frequently described as brilliant, how he would sabotage shots when he didn't get his way, the way he treated women on set and quite a bit more. There are some great clips here from the films he made during this period, as well as plenty of amazing archival clips and photos of Kinski in action. It paints a fascinating picture of a fairly brilliant lunatic and is absolutely worth watching.

    Severin has also included two outtakes from Creation Is Violent – the eight-minute Nothing Bad Can Happen that covers aspects of Nosferatu In Venice and the two-minute Gypsies Should Be Played By Real Gypsies wherein Cozzi tells a great story about having to find actual dancing Gypsies to appease Kinski.

    A trailer for the feature is also included, alongside menus and chapter selection options.

    Nosferatu In Venice – The Final Word:

    Nosferatu In Venice can't hold a candle to Herzog's Nosferatu but it does have its moments and it really benefits from not only the interesting cast but also the fantastic Venetian locations. Despite some pacing and plotting issues it's atmospheric, quirky and just strange enough to make it worth a watch.

    Click on the images below for full-sized The Nosferatu In Venice screen caps!