"No living woman possesses your mysterious fascination or yo
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 09/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Something's lurking in the canals of Venice, and its got a taste for young women...well, I don't mean it's actually eating them, but more so in a figurative sense. The police are baffled, but one man thinks he knows the score...written and directed by Dino Tavella, this being his second, and last feature, The Monster of Venice (1965) aka The Embalmer features Luigi Marturano (Goliath Against the Giants, Two Pistols and a Coward), along with Maureen Brown in her only film appearance.
As the movie opens, we see a sinister looking, cloaked figure in what appears to be a dank cellar (oops, someone left some fake skulls on the floor) monkeying about with a chemistry set...which leads into the opening credits. After this we see the figure from before donning scuba gear, enter the sewer (watch out for them whisker biscuits) and emerge from canals in the middle of the night to snatch a young woman off the darkened streets (both go into the water)...returning to his root cellar, he proceeds to embalm the recently drowned woman, adding her preserved corpse to his growing collection (this can't be good for the tourist trade). The police are baffled by the rising number of cases involving missing girls, last seen near the canals (we're informed that nearly all the missing girls were good swimmers), but they chalk it up to them running off...interesting tact to take there...it surely does let one off the hook for having to actually investigate the disappearances...a reporter named Andrea (Marturano) disagrees. He thinks there's a monster swimming the canals, a maniac grabbing girlies as he sees fit, but Andrea's editor won't publish his story because he has no proof...pfhhbt...proof, schmoof, a fantastic story like that and this guy needs actual evidence before printing in the paper? Anyway, a group of fresh, young, female victims...er, I mean students show chaperoned by an older woman named Maureen (I think), played by Maureen Brown. Somehow Andrea hooks up with the group (he knows the score), and shows them around town (I guess his whole submerged murdering maniac investigation/story can wait). Some more girls are abducted, Andrea and Maureen visit a nightclub featuring an Italian Elvis with too much eye make-up, a famed archeologist is murdered, and the authorities are still as befuddled as ever...eventually Andrea manages to put two and two together (and get five), procures himself some underwater gear, and goes in search of the monster (in the middle of the night, no less), but wait, Maureen has stumbled onto the killer's lair. Will Andrea crack the case before the killer cracks Maureen's head? And just who is this mysterious figure, preserving comely, young women in his underground temple of beauty? All (well, most) shall be revealed...
On the back of the DVD case there's actually an informative piece written by someone stating this was one of the last Italian horror films released to be shot in black and white. It also states this film provides a clear indicator of the shift in genres from gothic horror to giallo...crime/suspense stories (akin to the German Krimi films, only less confusing), who many believe was pioneered in the early 60s by legendary director Mario Bava, but I'm really not too familiar with the genre, but with regards to this film, while there is some horror elements, it did feel more like the intent was to present a suspenseful crime story, complete with jazzy musical score. If you like shots of feet walking down the street, you're in for a real treat here...since the killer's identity isn't revealed until near the end, we see very little of him when he isn't in full cloaking mode (meaning wearing his robe), other than his feet or else an actual POV shots. One aspect I thought really funny was how we were informed of the next victim to be abducted, and eventually killed. The movie would focus on a girl, and then do a freeze frame...kinda hard to build suspense when the audience knows how the next victim will be...I think this was an artistic effect, but it only served to remind me of the opening sequence to the Marlo Thomas TV show "That Girl". The story plods along, issuing forth non-relevant scenes (one featuring a hotel manager sitting on a city bench, covered in pigeons, enjoying himself immensely) and producing obvious red herrings. Things do pick in the last fifteen minutes or so (nearly derailed by ridiculous chase sequence...could you run any slower?), and almost make up for all that followed. The strongest aspect of this obviously cheap feature is the wonderful location shots of Venice and its amazing architecture. As far as the killer goes, the notion of a serial killer prowling the canals, emerging to take a victim is interesting, but awkward, and entirely cumbersome. There's one sequence where he emerges from the water, flippers and all, and begins stalking a girl...seems there'd be an easier way to snatch women from darkened streets, but whatever...and don't bother trying to figure out his identity until its revealed (through dumb luck), as the story gives no clues (that I could find). Another really funny element was how little the police knew, and the sense that they would have never caught this guy because of their all-encompassing boobery. It would have been nice if the story spent more time with the killer, created a bit more background, fleshing out the character, as there seemed a rich vein of psychosis there, but it only claws the surface, ever so lightly. The guy was a full on nut job, and deserved more screen time than he got...instead we get Andrea and Maureen sucking face in a gondola, while the girls, riding in other gondolas, look on...real classy...
Retromedia presents a decent, relatively sharp, widescreen print on this DVD, and the aspect ratio appears to be 1.85:1, but I'm not completely certain. The picture does suffer from some damage, the most prevalent being vertical lines marring the negative. They're not always there, but are present through about half the film. It didn't really bother me too much, especially given the exceptional Dolby Digital mono audio. That came through very clearly, especially the musical score. Not much in terms of special features, but there is a rough trailer (the title in the trailer states The Embalmer). One should be aware there are a couple of different DVD releases for this film. The one I have was released by Retromedia Entertainment, and features a man in scuba gear, a screaming woman, and a skull on the cover.
Not As Good As The Title...
Bindy Sue FrÝnkŁnschtein | under the rubble | 11/14/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A creepy maniac is loose in Venice! He dons a scuba-suit, swims through the channels, and surfaces only to grab beautiful, young female victims. You see, this guy is a collector. He kills his prey in order to embalm them with his special serum. He then adds them to his growing shrine of perfectly preserved corpses. The cops are baffled, so it's up to a determined reporter to somehow crack the case. Can he locate and stop this fiend before further deaths? THE EMBALMER suffers from horrendous dubbing and a lack of suspense. No real shocks or thrills here. Recommended for diehard scuba-diving serial killer fans..."
Creepy atmospheric underrated horror movie
D. Steigman | USA | 03/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Monster of Venice AKA The Embalmer is quite an atmospheric creepy horror movie. The story has a murderer in Venice - who kills women and embalms them, preserving their loveliness. One of the great scenes in this is when you first see the hood come off the murderer to reveal a skull-like mask underneath. This scene is effective and can shock. The identity of the murderer I will leave a secret. I really like this film, as I am into the genre/this type of movie. I have a strong interest in these movies as well as Edgar Bryan Wallace mysteries , Dr Mabuse and so forth.For me the atmosphere is there, as well as a certain creepiness. I personally feel it is a lot better than average. If you liked Monster of London City, Phantom of Soho, and Virgin of Nuremberg, than I feel that you might like this as well. Of course I cant say everyone will like it, but it at the very least is worth seeing once. I have watched this movie for years and have had it in my collection, first as a Sinister Cinema tape, the Alpha DVD and now Retromedia.
Retromedia's DVD is widescreen and is a better print than Alpha."
I thought it'd be better
E. Barrios | N.Y.C. | 09/25/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I read some of the other reviews of this movie which went under the alternate name of "The Embalmer." Some people said it was akin to early giallo and others said it was German krimi. Whatever they say, I say "boring"!
Acting was terrible and so was the lousy fight scene at the end. The premise was good and could've been a spine-tingling thriller in the hands of the right director.
But if you must get this waste of celluloid, then buy the Retromedia edition as the Alpha print is just strictly for the recycle bin.
Don't say I didn't warn you. No one warned me."