The Monster Of Venice (1965) – Giallithon #4

Monster Of Venice (1965)Monster Of Venice (1965)Creepy is the word you would use most to describe this strange horror/giallo mix from 1965 which is also known by the name The Embalmer but Monster Of Venice is much closer to the original Italian name of Il Mostro di Venezia.

This low-budget film owes an awful lot to the story of the Phantom of the Opera, except here we have a crazy mortician who stalks beautiful women in the canals and catacombs of Venice. He does this by hiding in the water of the canals in full scuba gear, and grabbing them to take down to his subterranean lair. There he changes into a monk’s cassock and a skeletal deathmask, then embalms and stuffs the women to add to his collection.

Sounds pretty grim right?

It’s actually an excellent idea for a film, and themes from this were explored again in other films such as Amsterdamned (1988) and Don’t Look Now (1973). Films based in cities that are composed of many canals are eerie, it’s now a proven fact.

The film itself was written and directed by Dino Tavella, who went onto do precisely nothing after this film. You can kind of see why. Although the film has a brilliant premise, the execution can be extremely lackluster. The characters are either highly annoying, or pretty vacuous. The script is pretty terrible, and doesn’t pull you into the proceedings much. The cast is full of people that didn’t pop up much, if at all again in other films. There are comedy characters that just don’t work, and the women just aren’t beautiful enough to be part of a Giallo.

 Monster Of Venice (1965)
Monster Of Venice (1965)
Monster Of Venice (1965)

Where the film does excel is creating eerie foreboding atmosphere that peaks in the underground lair of the killer. It’s a rotten place of death, filled with the skeletal remains of dead monks from seems to be an ancient subterranean sect. The Embalmer’s victims are displayed in his trophy cabinet, as he stalks around in the dark kicking skulls from his path.

Monster Of Venice (1965)
Monster Of Venice (1965)
Monster Of Venice (1965)

Tavella excels in some great camerawork, and maybe this is where his real strength lay. It’s a shame that this film didn’t have any involvement from a strong scriptwriter such as Gastaldi, or even a great director such as Bava who really could have made this into a macabre masterpiece of cinema.

As such it’s still an entertaining film that can drag in places, and border on the ridiculous in others. There are moments of brief flashes of genius, especially near the climax where the killer disguises himself by hiding among the corpses of the long dead monks to surprise a potential victim.

Monster Of Venice (1965)
Monster Of Venice (1965)
Monster Of Venice (1965)
Monster Of Venice (1965)
There is a decent version of this on DVD from Retromedia/Image Entertainment, but unfortunately the DVD version I own is in the wrong aspect ratio. As you can see from the screenshots it’s 4:3 stretched to 16:9, and therefore everything looks squashed. However it’s a fine print with little damage, and strong blacks so you can easily make out what lurks in the shadows of the catacombs beneath the streets and canals of Venice.

Worth searching out if only to see the creepy climax.


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