Vampire in Venice aka Nosferatu in Venice is a 1988 Italian horror feature film written by and mostly directed by Augusto Caminito. Alberto Alfieri and Leandro Lucchetti contributed to the storyline.
Vampire in Venice was originally intended as a direct sequel to Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), but Klaus Kinski reportedly refused to shave his head or undergo the arduous make-up. In the US, it was also released as Prince of the Night.
Original director Mario Caiano (Blood, 1972) left after being insulted by Kinski on-set, and Augusto Caminito took over before also leaving (never to direct again, which explains a lot). Luigi Cozzi and Kinski himself handled some of the remaining footage.
Due to Kinski’s constantly disruptive behaviour, production on the film was very slow and they soon ran out of money, leaving the film disjointed and at times nonsensical. Kinski only made one more film, the ambitious, if disappointing, ‘Paganini‘.
The plot sees Van Helsing-esque Professor Paris Catalano (Plummer) going to Venice to investigate the last known appearance of Nosferatu during the Carnival of 1786. Catalano seems to think that the vampire is searching for a means to put an end to his torment and actually be dead. He stays with a family who, legend says, has the vampire trapped in a tomb in the basement. After a séance “the vampire” appears and then it becomes a question of how do you put the evil back into the box.
The film is lazy and confused when it comes to vampire lore – Nosferatu can allegedly only be killed by the consenting love of a virgin and spends much of the film wandering around Venice… in the daylight. Continuity is also somewhat wayward with irrelevant flashbacks and some rather abrupt time-travel.
Donald Pleasence plays a priest in the way he’s played many priests (talks slowly, looks quizzical), Christopher Plummer looks like he’s stepped straight off a mountain whilst Klaus Kinski strides imperiously around the admittedly stunning-looking Venice, wrapped in fog, looking for victims – occasionally whilst in character.
Beautiful to look at but lacking in anything of substance, Nosferatu in Venice is largely for vampire enthusiasts and Kinski fans, the latter likely to be more approving. The score is worthy of mention, it’s an atmospheric synth affair from Luigi Ceccarelli, adapting a Vangelis album.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
“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.” KQEK
“In the film’s best moments, its strange, dream-like quality works to create atmosphere. In the film’s worst moments, weird things just kind of happen. For example, the dad unloads a bunch of shots at Nosferatu, which blows a hole in chest… until it doesn’t. I don’t know what happened there. Any guesses? Regardless, this is a neat film… it is just a shame that it is so damn confusing.” Mondo Bizarro
“Despite its rocky history and distribution woes, the film is still quite enjoyable today with its exceptionally rich Venice atmosphere helping tremendously. The carnival trappings, antiquated villas, and bombastic orchestral and synthesizer music make for a memorably strange experience that carries the film over its bumpier spots, and even though he was essentially phoning his performances in at this point, it’s always fun to see Kinski skulking around with vampiric rat teeth.” Mondo Digital
“The dialogue does tend to epigrammatic vagueries but occasionally offers some potent images. Like in one scene where we get an appealing explanation for why the vampire must sleep in a patch of its own earth: “He carries with him always a patch of cursed land. He is lulled to sleep by the cries of the dead.” Moria
“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.” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“Its strongest asset by far is the dreamlike photography by Tonino Nardi which is exceptional. His haunting funereal images envision Venice as a city tormented by a legacy of death and disease with Kinski’s vampire as a walking metaphor for its tortured history. Certainly, the film fails as a coherent narrative with a zombie-like pace that probably struck horror fans of the Eighties as hopelessly old-fashioned.” The Spinning Image
Cast and characters:
Klaus Kinski … Nosferatu
Christopher Plummer … Professor Paris Catalano
Donald Pleasence … Don Alvise
Barbara De Rossi … Helietta Canins
Yorgo Voyagis … Doctor Barneval
Anne Knecht … Maria Canins
Elvire Audray … Uta Barneval
Clara Colosimo … Medium
Maria Cumani Quasimodo … Princess
La Chunga … Woman at Gypsy Camp
Miles Jonn-Dalton … The Monsieur
Aspect Ratio: 1.85: 1