‘Vampire in Venice’ or — The Most God-Awful Italian Movie Ever Made?
What is it about films set in Venice that I find so inadvertently silly and funny? ‘Don’t Look Now’ (1973) has moments that make me giggle whilst Visconti’s ‘Death in Venice’ (1971) might be the most unintentionally hilarious movie ever made. I think the city must bring out some form of pretention in filmmakers that bogs down their work so it starts sinking like the city itself. But top of that list is Augusto Caminito’s ‘Vampire in Venice’ (1988), possibly the most pretentious, up its own ass, offensive, boring, turgid piece of crap that Italian cinema has ever produced, and that’s saying something!
Actually, it’s inaccurate to call it Augusto Caminito’s film because this movie had FIVE different directors working on it, including Klaus Kinski, and you know your film might be in trouble when the most talented person working on it is Luigi Cozi.
‘Vampire in Venice’ is an opportunistic sequel/not sequel to Werner Herzog’s ‘Nosferatu the Vampire’ (1979). This time Nosferatu is hanging out in Venice and is seeking eternal death when Christopher Plummer rocks up in order to, er… kill Nosferatu before Nosferatu can kill himself? I think. Something like that. Either way, it doesn’t matter as this movie is tedious bollocks and, hopefully, you’ll never watch it anyway after reading this.
The main problem is the overly artsy approach to the cinematography which is worryingly sumptuous from the start. “Uh-oh.” I thought. “This director has been watching too much Bertolucci. I think this movie might be about to climb up its own rectum.” And that’s exactly what it does.
When Christopher Plummer appears in Venice he is standing still on a gondola looking very serious. This goes on for some time. In fact, there is A LOT of men standing still on gondolas and looking serious as they float about like self-important turds in an unflushed toilet bowl. That’s followed by lots of shots focusing on the decor and architecture of the city but that’s only because it is blindingly apparent that the story, dialogue and characters are either badly written or totally nonexistent.
This artsy approach also means the movie has no tension or terror. And I mean zero. Instead it’s a lot of ponderous hanging about, portentous portenting and TONNES of Klaus Kinski wandering about aimlessly like he’s got lost in Ikea and can’t find the exit.
Indeed, Kinski is a massive problem in this film with his ego is on full display. He refused to shave his head and wear fangs meaning he looks, essentially, like Klaus Kinski rather than Nosferatu and I’ve the suspicion it’s because Kinski thinks he’s bigger than the role. Kinski also directed the sequences of himself wandering around Venice himself, of which he shot over TEN HOURS worth of footage. This isn’t vampirism but narcissistic solipsism unfortunately captured on film.
Then there’s the sexual abuse which is all fully on camera. Barbara De Rossi claimed that Kinski sexually assaulted her during filming and she wasn’t lying because you can see it happening on camera and it is EXTREMELY uncomfortable. This is another reason to never watch this movie.
Then there’s the acting which is uniformly awful by everyone involved, especially by Christopher Plummer who manages to deliver a performance that’s WORSE than the one he gives in ‘Star Crash’ (1978). How is that even possible? At least in that film he looked like he’d just happily popped in for an hour to pick up a pay cheque, whereas here he looks genuinely trapped in having to make this movie and is traumatised by the fact.
Yet my biggest gripe is with the music as they absolutely, and unforgivably, bastardise Vangelis. It’s blindingly obvious the director simply gave the composer a copy of Vangelis’ album ‘Mask’ and was told — “Give me that” — so the composer simply went away and recorded the album note for note. And it sounds horrible! ‘Mask’ has been one of my favourite Vangelis albums for years so to hear it vandalised like this was insufferable. They even have to admit this was the case when the closing credits come up, possibly simply to avoid being sued.
‘Vampire in Venice’ is an appalling movie, and I mean really bad. It’s a boring, pretentious showcase for Kinski’s ego and as nasty as that sounds to sit through. Nothing about this has been made with an audience’s pleasure in mind but, instead, is purely a pompous cash-in and glory project that’s distended with serious cinematic and moral issues and contains nothing to recommend it (aside from some nice cinematography).
Avoid like a 14th Century Venetian plague.