Nosferatu in Venice (Blu-ray Review)
DirectorAugusto Caminito/Klaus Kinski
Release Date(s)1988 (March 30, 2021)
Studio(s)Reteitalia/Scena Film (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: A-
A project that was a shambles from the start, Nosferatu in Venice (AKA Nosferatu a Venezia, or Prince of the Night) was a very expensive and troubled production thanks in no small part to its star, the always interesting but controversial Klaus Kinski. The actor’s wild and unjustifiable conduct on and off the set lead the film through several directors and miles of barely usable footage. While Christopher Plummer and Donald Pleasence performed their roles almost under the radar, Kinski’s presence loomed large over the production. He did everything from show up late, demand to shoot portions of the film himself, allegedly sexually assault one of the actresses, and even cause the crew to storm off the project. Vangelis’ haunting score and the gorgeous visuals are a highlight, but the film as a whole winds up as a mostly dull, choppy, incoherent mess. Nosferatu in Venice never actually made it to US theaters and was a box office bomb upon its release in Italy. It was also one of the last films Kinski would appear in before his death in 1991.
Professor Catalano (Christopher Plummer) has arrived in Venice and is following up on the last known sighting of Nosferatu (Klaus Kinski), an evil and mysterious vampire who disappeared 200 years prior. Unhappy with his presence is a priest (Donald Pleasence) who disapproves of Catalano’s blasphemous methods to draw the monster out of hiding. The resulting seance inadvertently awakens Nosferatu from its long slumber. It makes its way to Venice in search of the one who called out to it in order to end its unholy existence. But as it zeroes in on the beautiful Helietta (Barbara De Rossi), Catalano seeks to locate and destroy it and its kind forever.
Severin Films brings Nosferatu in Venice to Blu-ray for the first time with a new 2K scan of what’s purported to be “the original negative” featuring the title Vampires in Venice. Easily the best home video presentation of the film to date, it offers impressive detail in many daytime scenes and a range of lush hues during the ballroom dance sequence. Even the red and purple-tinged sunsets, the green foliage, and the fog-soaked Venice streets stand out. Most of the time, moderate to heavy grain resolves nicely. At other times, it ranges from less obvious to clumpy and pixellated in certain shots—Nosferatu’s late night arrival on the Venice beach for instance. Blacks sometimes appear too bright with mild crush, though decent contrast is apparent. The image is stable with only a mild softness, speckling, and a very pesky hair during the opening.
The audio is provided in English or Italian 2.0 DTS-HD MA with optional subtitles in English SDH for the English audio and simple English captions for the Italian audio. Both tracks exhibit different traits. The English audio has a sometimes reverberated quality, particularly with dialogue and music performed within the film, which is a little more flat in the Italian audio. However, dialogue exchanges are always discernible. Minor hiss creeps in occasionally and there’s a few minor dropouts on the English track. Sound effects have little impact, but the Vangelis score has a rich and rounded quality to it. Neither track is perfect, but having options is important.
The following extras are also included:
- Creation Is Violent (HD and Upsampled SD – 81:44)
- Nothing Bad Can Happen (HD – 8:12)
- Gypsies Should Be Played by Real Gypsies! (HD – 2:28)
- German/Italian Trailer (HD – 2:22)
Creation Is Violent: Anecdotes from Kinski’s Final Years is an excellent new documentary by Josh Johnson (Rewind This!) about Kinski’s final years in the film business, offering a smorgasbord of information about his erratic behavior on and off various film sets during the late 1980s. It features interviews with actresses Diane Salinger, Deborah Caprioglio, and Joycelyne Lew; actors Barry Hickey and Abbott Alexander; filmmakers Michael Schultz, Ulli Lommel, David Schmoeller, Augusto Caminito, Mario Caiano, and Luigi Cozzi, and several others. It’s fascinating and certainly tops the film in terms of entertainment value. Nothing Bad Can Happen and Gypsies Should Be Played by Real Gypsies! are outtakes from the Creation Is Violent documentary, highlighting more production troubles on Nosferatu in Venice thanks to Kinski. The trailer for the film is presented with Italian text but German dialogue. It’s worth noting that previous DVD releases included a still gallery, which hasn’t carried over. And if you purchase the Blu-ray through Severin’s website, you also get an exclusive slipcover.
Nosferatu in Venice is a hodgepodge of cobbled together footage. Fans will appreciate the presence of both Christopher Plummer and Donald Pleasence who are given plenty of great monologues to chew on, but it’s Kinski whose persona towers over the film. Severin Films’ new Blu-ray release is a step up from previous DVD releases with a healthy picture and a wonderful documentary that eclipses its main presentation. If you’re at all interested in Kinski and his exploits, this is definitely one to pick up.
- Tim Salmons
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