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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Prince Of The Night
Prince Of The Night
One Village Entertainment // Unrated // September 9, 2014
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 12, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Better known as Nosferatu In Venice or Vampire In Venice and made as an unofficial sequel/follow up (maybe almost ten years too late to be a complete cash-in?) to Werner Herzog's Nosferatu: The Vampyre, 1988's Prince Of The Night (where distributor One 7 Movies got this title is anyone's guess) was directed by some combination of Mario Caiano, Luigi Cozzi, Maurizio Lucidi, producer Augusto Caminito and possibly to Klaus Kinski himself. As to who did what, that would appear to be lost in the annals of history but with all of those named above rumored to have at least attempted to helm the film, it's safe to assume that this was a very tumultuous production indeed. Then again, pretty much any production with Kinski attached to it could fall into that category, his temper tantrums having since become the stuff of legend.

The film, as you could probably guess, is set in Venice where our lead vampire (Kinski, no longer the bald, rat-like creature he was in the Herzog original) is skulking around the city and preying upon its populace. As a few bodies are discovered, Professor Catalano (Christopher Plummer) is brought in to help a beautiful young woman named Helietta Canins (Barbara De Rossi). Her mother, Maria Canins (Anne Knecht), believes that their Transylvanian ancestry ties them to the murders and given that there's a strange coffin stored in the tomb belonging to Canin family, she just might be right.

Meanwhile, a kindly Catholic priest named Don Alvise (Pleasence) does what he can to decipher ancient books that may or may not hold the key to locating and stopping the city's vampire problem before all of its sexy young women are turned into dinner!

Given the issues keeping a director in place it's not too surprising that it is the cast that make this one interesting. Barbara De Rossi is beautiful as the female lead and a good casting choice to be sure. Plummer is in ‘paycheck' mode and overdoes it a bit here and there but not necessarily to the film's detriment. He's effectively the vampire's foil, the Van Helsing to his Dracula, and while he always brought a sense of regal classiness to almost everything he worked on, his heart doesn't seem in it. It's interesting to see him here, however. Donald Pleasence sort of hams his way through his supporting role in that way that Donald Pleasence does his thing, which brings us to Kinski. Despite the similar titles, this picture feels more like Kinski's own Paginini than it does Herzog's masterpiece of gothic horror. The actor plays the role with a very human appearance, looking like very much the long haired aristocrat he played in Paginini and affording both roles a similar sense of pomp and circumstance. This is interesting and sometimes unintentionally bizarre but he definitely brings a darkness to the role that makes him enjoyable to watch, even if he's not always ‘vampiric' in the way you might expect him to be.

Additionally, even when the story hops around and things get more than a little disjointed, the movie rarely wants for atmosphere. There are times even when the pacing starts to lag a bit that the movie remains completely watchable simply because it really does do a great job of showcasing its location through some excellent cinematography. The costuming is also quite ornate and seemingly very authentic. This helps immensely when it comes to overlooking some of the film's more obvious flaws. There are a few too many flashbacks here than necessary and occasionally characters pop up in the movie briefly never to be seen again and without really contributing much to the story.

The film plays more towards exploitation in that it features quite a bit of (admittedly not unwelcome) nudity and sex whereas Herzog's picture really only alluded to that type of thing. Differences aside, however, Prince Of The Night, as mixed up as it is, should prove worth a watch for those with an interest in Kinski's filmography or a taste for more esoteric and obscure Eurocult fare.

The DVD:

Video:

The Prince Of Night looks okay on DVD framed at 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. There's a little bit of print damage but nothing too serious and while shadow detail isn't always perfect and some of the darker scenes have a bit of crush, colors are typically reproduced quite well. Skin tones look alright and there isn't any evidence of edge enhancement or noise reduction to note. Detail is fine for standard definition presentation and there aren't any serious compression artifacts to note.

Sound:

The disc includes Dolby Digital Mono tracks in both English and Italian but fails to offer any subtitles for the Italian track. Given that, based on the lip movements of the performers, the film appears to have been shot in English to begin with this isn't a huge deal but it will no doubt irk some. As to the quality of the audio, there are a couple of quick, minor drops in the first ten minutes or so of the film but after that no problems to report. Dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow and there are no serious probably with any audible hiss or distortion to note.

Extras:

Aside from a still gallery of poster art, a static menu and chapter selection there are no extra features at all on this DVD.

Final Thoughts:

The Prince Of The Night can't hold a candle to Herzog's Nosferatu but it does have its moments and it really benefits from not only the interesting cast but also the fantastic Venetian locations. Despite some pacing and plotting issues it's atmospheric, quirky and just strange enough to make it worth a watch. The DVD from One 7 Movies isn't reference quality but it's not bad at all and despite the lack of extras, this is worthwhile for fans of Eurocult oddities and Kinski completists alike. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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