Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nosferatu in Venice

On the plane back from a trip to Scranton and Allentown, I worked on a book outline (something new, not related to vampires, but supernatural and with a teen female lead) and then watched the 1988 movie Nosferatu in Venice, AKA Vampire in Venice. This is a scary, often violent vampire movie from Italy that I totally would not recommend to a young audience. But I'd figure it for PG-13 here.

What, haven't heard of it? Klaus Kinski, star of 1979's Nosferatu, reprising his role (sort of) as a vampire king on the loose in Venice? Up against Christopher Plummer and Donald Pleasance? No? 

One reason is likely that this movie is not actually available in any way I can describe as "legal;" you can order a bootleg of it or even download it on Youtube. Second, this is not a fine film. It's the kind of movie people like me watch and then try to explain why-- when the script often makes no sense, and the pacing could be charitably called "halting," and the three male leads seem to be competing with one another to see who can emote with the most alien-like distance from whatever meaning might be found in the lines, and did I mention that the script makes no sense? Astonishing that this movie can take Plummer, Pleasance and Kinski and wring these performances from them. (Kinski's character benefits from this alien quality.)

I watched Nosferatu in Venice because:
  •  I am a huge fan of Werner Herzog's Nosferatu: The Vampyre, to which this is a completely unofficial sequel, although not really, because the character here is actually (absurdly) named Nosferatu, whereas Kinski's Nosferatu was named Dracula
  • I love, love love eurohorror, especially Italian eurohorror, and honestly most of these movies are strange and don't make much sense, so I knew what I was getting into
  • Movies like these are like coffee table books to me, with an occasional bit of scenery or turn of phrase that might inspire me. And that's why I can recommend it to freaks like me, and you know who you are.

This movie presents a gorgeous, gorgeous Venice crawling with a tall, gnarled master vampire. At carnivale time. So we have Fellini-esque masque balls and fog and gondolas and all kinds of sexy vampire goings on. It's long and dull, but along the way it's beautiful.
At times it looks like a Russel Mulcahy video-- very 80s and blue, and that works well with the groovy Vangelis music.(Literally, actual Vangelis, because I guess there's nothing he wouldn't score.) To that end, we get a number of really great images: the aforementioned Vampire wandering Venice, various grave-risings, a number of beautiful shots from a ruined villa with enormous curtains billowing.

We get a number of interesting vampire rules, such as that the king vampire sleeps 24 hours every 24 days, and can only be killed by true love, which truly is horror, when you think about it, because Nosferatu, even with his awesome blond mullet, is one rancid, sadistic guy.

A very strange, uneven vampire movie. True cult horror and far from the worst I've seen with some cool shots. Good luck finding it!

1 comment:

  1. Strange, uneven, slow and boring in parts, it's still a better movie than Twilight!!!!