Vampire in Venice

Vampire in Venice (Italian: Nosferatu a Venezia), also known as Prince of the Night in the United States, is a 1988 Italian horror film directed by Augusto Caminito and an uncredited Klaus Kinski,[1] and starring Kinski, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasence and Barbara De Rossi. The story follows Professor Paris Catalano, who travels to Venice following the trail of the last known appearance of Nosferatu (Kinski), who was seen at a Carnival in 1786. Catalano learns through a séance that the vampire is seeking eternal death, and tries to put an end to its existence once and for all.

Vampire in Venice
Vampire in Venice.jpg
Directed by
Produced byAugusto Caminito[1]
Screenplay byAugusto Caminito[1]
Story by
  • Carlo Alberto Alfieri
  • Leandro Lucchetti[1]
Music byLuigi Ceccarelli[1]
CinematographyAntonio Nardi[1]
Edited byClaudio Cutry[1]
  • Scena Film Production
  • Reteitalia S.p.A.[1]
Distributed byMedusa[1]
Release date

After securing Kinski for the lead of Nosferatu, producer August Caminito planned a sequel to Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre. Caminito originally secured Maurizio Lucidi as the director but later felt that film would be better with a more well known director and a higher budget, leading Lucidi to be dropped as the director in favor of Pasquale Squitieri. Squiteri made several changes to the script which did not appeal to Caminito, which led to him paying Squiteri and terminating his contract. This led to further budget cuts in the film and hiring Mario Caiano on as the director. After clashing with Kinski on set, Caiano left the film leading Caminito to direct the film himself. During filming, Kinski would not follow rehearsal and demanded change in actors and often had lighting to be changed dramatically on set. According to second unit director Luigi Cozzi, Kinski's behaviour on set became so erratic that the entire crew left the set and did not return until Kinski apologized for his behaviour.

After six weeks of filming, Caminito came to the conclusion that he did not have the entire film completed, but that he also could not continue with the project. This led to entire sections of the re-written screenplay by Caminito not being shot, and Caminito making do with what he had. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 9 September 1988 and it was later released theatrically in Italy.


British Professor Paris Catalano travels to Venice to investigate the whereabouts of the infamous vampire Nosferatu, whose last known appearance was during the Carnival of 1786. Catalano believes that the vampire is searching for a way to put an end to his immortal torment and actually be dead. Catalano stays with the traditional Canins family who, legend says, has the vampire trapped in a tomb in the basement. To make matters worst the older daughter of the Canins, Helietta, seems to be the reencarnation of Nosferatu's long lost love, Letizia. After a séance at the house Nosferatu awakens from its 200-year sleep and goes after Letizia's descedant, which leads Catalano into a quest for protecting the Venetian family and to vanquish Nosferatu completely.



Development and pre-productionEdit

In the mid-1980s, producer Augusto Caminito began producing horror and thriller films in Italy for foreign markets, such as Lucio Fulci's Murder Rock.[1] Caminito was introduced to the script for Nosferatu in Venice by Carlo Alberto Alfieri who had written the screenplay and its original story with Leandro Lucchetti.[1] The script was originally a sequel to Werner Herzog's film Nosferatu the Vampyre with Alfieri securing the star of that film, Klaus Kinski, to star in this sequel.[1][2] On December 17, 1985 Caminito and Kinski signed on for a two film deal: Nosferatu in Venice and Paganini, the latter being a film Kinski had been working on getting produced since 1980.[2]

The film was initially to be directed by Maurizio Lucidi.[2] Among the crew was Luigi Cozzi, who was a friend of Alfieri and worked on the set as a consultant and during post-production.[2] Cozzi stated that Caminito felt the film would be a bigger success with a larger budget and doubled the films budget and with a more "name" director.[2] Caminito fired Lucidi who had only shot a few scenes without Kinski at the February 1986 Venice Carnival.[2] Caminito hired director Pasquale Squitieri and got a cast that included Christopher Plummer, Donald Pleasence, Barbara De Rossi and Yorgo Voyagis.[2] Squitieri re-wrote the script, setting it in the near future of 1996 Venice and hired a number of comic book artists to storyboard the film.[2][3] Caminito found the story board to be "too baroque" [4] and would be too expensive to film.[2] Squitieri refused to change his script and had been arguing with Kinski.[5] As Caminito felt they could not lose Kinski on the film, Caminito terminated the contract with Squitieri and paid him the agreed sum before the director shot any of the film yet.[5] This then led to Mario Caiano who had worked with Kinski in the past on films such as The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe.[5] In mid-1986, Caiano completed casting on the film and Caminto re-wrote the script to make it match the films new reduced budget.[5] Cozzi later stated that several characters and scenes were scrapped in the new re-write of the film.[5]


Filming began on August 25.[5] Kinski refused to shave his head and wear fake fangs for the role. After arguing with Caiano on the first day of filming, Caiano stated later that Kinski would not listen to him when he called cut and found him the next day locked in his trailer with Caminito.[5] Caiano learned that Caminito had promised Kinski that he would direct the film.[5] According to Caminito, Caiano ran into Kinski's trailer and told him "Now you're directing the movie!".[5] Caminito felt determined to finish the film and took on directing the film himself.[5] According to Cozzi, Kinski would ignore the staging they did in rehearsals which led to the director of photography Antonio Nardi to have to reset his lighting set-up from scratch as Kinski would not follow cues and would refuse to shoot re-takes.[5] Kinski had Caminito fire Amanda Sandrelli. When Voyagis' girlfriend, Anne Knecht, visited the set, Kinski demanded Caminito to hire Anne Knecht as the female lead.[6] This had the script be changed so Maria was Helietta's adopted daughter.[6]

Cozzi began directing scenes as a second unit director, which included scenes following Kinski in Venice at dawn.[6] Cozzi stated later that they ended with about 10 hours of footage which consisted of Kinski walking around.[6] The boom man on set, Luciano Muratori, stated that during a scene where Nosferatu was to turn Barbara De Rossi's character Helietta into a vampire which was supposed to be Kinski pretending to learn over and bite her neck led to Kinski inserting his fingers into the woman's vagina, which had her run from the set in tears.[6] Cozzi stated that Kinski went as far as to slamming her to the floor and psychically and sexually assaulting here by biting her vagina.[7] Barbara De Rossi also stated in the documentary Kinski in Italy that she was "assaulted one day. He never respected the script and he was always physical when he had something to do with women. [During filming] he grabbed my breasts and he hurt me." and that "It was a mess. We were really scared. We never knew what could have come out of any scene."[7] According to Cozzi, at one point the entire crew abandoned the set in protest of Kinski who later apologized for his behaviour.[6] After six weeks of shooting in Venice, Caminito only had filmed about half the films script set in Venice and had an entire third of the script to film elsewhere.[6] Caminito could not film any further and attempted to compile the film from what footage he had shot.[6]


Klaus Kinski in 1988

A day prior to its premiere, Caminito claimed Vampire in Venice to be one hour and forty-six minutes in length.[6] The copy submitted to the ratings board had a 98 minute running time and current home video copies run at 89 minutes.[6] It premiered at midnight on 9 September 1988 at the Venice Film Festival where it was shown out of competition.[8][1][6] Cozzi stated that Vampire in Venice's presence at the festival had more to do with Caminito's status as a major film producer and did not have to with the artistic quality of the film.[8] It was distributed theatrically in Italy by Medusa in 1988.[1][6] Matthew Edwards, author of Klaus Kinski: Beast of Cinema commented on the films box office in Italy as being "a box-office disaster"[8]

The film was later released in English territories as Prince of the Night in the United States and Nosferatu in Venice.[1] Vampire in Venice was released on home video by the distributor First Fright in 1991.[9] The film was released on DVD in the United States by One-7 Movies as Prince of the Night on September 9, 2014.[10]


From retrospective reviews, David Alexander wrote in Rue Morgue found the film to "confusing and scattershot" with "some awkwardly constructed scenes and goofy editing choices, though an overall atmosphere of Gothic dread helps somewhat" specifically noting Tonino Nardi's "Beautifully hazy cityscapes in Venice".[11] Alexander concluded that the film was "more of a curiosity than anything".[11] Edwards described the film "difficult to review" noting "its rich atmospheric texture, evocative imagery of Venice and Kinski's wild performance." stating that "Kinski paints his sadistic vampire with a sneering disgust for those around him" as well as noting "a decent performance by Christopher Plummer" and also praised Nardi's cinematography stating he "captures the canals and Gothic architecutre to stunning effect."[8][7] Edwards concluded that the film was a "monumental muddle that has flashes of brilliance but is rendered bereft of any coherency."[8] In his book on Italian gothic horror films of the decade, Curti stated that Plummer gave the best performance in the film, and the film had a few arresting if repetitive images, stating that Venice "never becomes a living prescene in the film (as it does in, say, Don't Look Now)"[6][12] Curti also stated that "despite the script's ambitions, the dialogue is often poor if not ridiculous" but that it was Kinski who ultimately "drowns the film"[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Curti 2019, p. 166.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Curti 2019, p. 167.
  3. ^ Zanotto 1986.
  4. ^ Loparco 2015, p. 63.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Curti 2019, p. 168.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Curti 2019, p. 169.
  7. ^ a b c Edwards 2016, p. 291.
  8. ^ a b c d e Edwards 2016, p. 290.
  9. ^ Green 1991, p. 71.
  10. ^ "Vampires in Venice". AllMovie. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Alexander 2014, p. 43.
  12. ^ a b Curti 2019, p. 170.


  • Alexander, David (November 2014). "Reissues". Rue Morgue. No. 150. Toronto, Canada: Marrs Media Inc.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Curti, Roberto (2019). Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1980-1989. McFarland. ISBN 978-1476672434.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Edwards, Matthew (2016). Klaus Kinski, Beast of Cinema: Critical essays and Fellow Filmmaker Interviews. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786498970.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Green, William (May 1991). "Vampire in Venice". Sight & Sound. Vol. 1 no. 1. British Film Institute.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Loparco, Stefano (2015). Klaus Kinski. Del Paganini e dei capricci. Piambino: Il Foglio. ISBN 978-8876065866.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Zanotto, Piero (6 October 1986). "Kinski assetatto di sangue "gira" per Venezia". Stampa Sera (in Italian).CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External linksEdit