Monster of Venice (AKA The Embalmer, AKA Il mostro di Venezia) is an average competent and rather obscure 1965 eurohorror flick with a Venetian setting that makes it worth a look.
Beautiful young women are being stalked by a frogman killer who uses the canals of Venice as his hunting ground. He kills his victims, then embalms them so he can keep them with him forever. This guy obviously has a few issues he needs to deal with.
A newspaper reporter suspects that a series of disappearances of young beautiful women mean that a crazed killer is on the loose in Venice. We, the audience, already know this is true but the police and even his own editor refuse to believe him. His editor won’t report his story because it’s too sensational - he’s obviously not really cut out to be a newspaper editor!
A party of schoolgirls from Rome is visiting Venice and the newspaper reporter offers to be their tour guide. Pretty soon he has fallen in love with one of the girls but it’s obvious the mysterious killer has targeted this group of girls and soon one of them falls victim to him.
In some ways this one feels more like a German Edgar Wallace krimi, probably not surprising in view of the popularity of this genre on the Continent. There’s even the comic relief you expect in a krimi.
The reporter continues to pursue his story, still facing the disbelief and hostility of those in authority. A report from a couple of boatmen about a mysterious fish with lights gives him an idea. The boatmen also provide the comic relief, another feature that makes this film feel like a krimi.
The body count steadily mounts, until the reporter decides to take matters into his own hands.
The Venetian settings are used very skillfully and form more than a mere picturesque backdrop - it’s the canals that hid the secret to this mystery.
Dino Tavella (who also co-wrote the screenplay) does an adequate job as director, and the acting is adequate.
Retromedia’s DVD release is a rather disappointing letterboxed transfer. It would have been nice to have this one in a 16x9 enhanced format but at least the correct aspect ratio is preserved.
Monster of Venice is nothing special but it’s worth a look.