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Saturday, July 12, 2014

IHW: Possession is 9/10th's THE HORROR - DAMNED IN VENICE

BUCKY SCHUYLER is an Admin at Horror Sci-fi and More, an outstanding page for horror fans who like to get into a wide variety of titles. You’ll be seeing more from Bucky and his cohort in crime, MOZZ during Italian Horror Week. This is Bucky’s first IHW, and we want to welcome him to the fold. Below he recounts a strange beastie indeed. Damned in Venice, one of the great Italian knock-off pictures of the 70’s.

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This is my first review ever for James and his blog. Now I was a little intimidated by the offer to contribute movie reviews for his event he entitled Italian Horror Week, but I jumped at this chance because I can finally let more people see what I can offer or take some criticism to better myself.

Note From the DOC:

Review and Discussion Contain Plot Spoilers.

When I was asked to review some films I assumed I was going to be watching zombies or slashers; The basic norm or Giallo that some Italian horror is based upon, but when he said I could have free range and whatever subgenre I wanted to do, it was like the doors opening and I could just run free. Demonic Possession films were the subgenre I selected and I went on a hunt. At first my heart was set to do Demons and its sequel Demons 2. I had to struggle with myself as I have come to terms that though they are my favorites, they are what I would consider mainstream. So as I searched and searched I came to a decision when I found 7 films I would be happy with. Some of them are films that I haven't seen in a REALLY long time and then there are the ones that I never heard and recently discovered and figured why not bring them to the surface and bask in the light of your eyes.


The first film I watched and thought it was categorized as a demonic possession film, Damned in Venice aka Nero veneziano, didn't come off like that. I kind of felt like this film in particular was more along the lines of a religious, “good versus evil” type of film. You know one that has to deal with the antichrist. This film is directed by Ugo Liberatore whose previous works are "The Sex of Angels" and "May Morning" as well as writing the script for the western "The Hellbenders". The film starts off with a brother and sister visiting Italy for a funeral of what I presumed was a family member but they never said so the scene moved rather quickly to the cemetery and oh wait yeah before I forget you won't notice it at first but the brother is blind and is rocking a horrible hairstyle that looks like a cross between Patty Duke and He-Man. Well anyway back to the subject at the funeral the brother whose name is Mark (played by Renato Cesti√®) wanders off in the cemetery coming to the mausoleums where a flash of light happens this is what happens when he see's visions. Well the visions are all the same practically meaning he sees the same man, a man who walks with a cane. First time he sees him he's kissing a woman at the cemetery as a dog eats a human hand, another time he sees him killing a woman by stabbing her three times with his cane and again killing another woman by stabbing her through her face with the cane. When they go a church and say prayer Mark accidentally knocks a candle over onto an elderly woman and sets her on fire. Funny thing is the flame is small at first but she goes up like a wicker basket and in a room filled with people no one bothered to put her out. WOW!

Now the man comes to fruition in the flesh midway through the movie when the siblings are on a ferry and it catches fire. Mark is lost in the confusion as people flee from the fire, but a man comes up from behind and grabs him and helps him out of the burning vessel. Mark fights the man or really screams and slightly struggles as I would say is compared to fight. The man confides to Christine (played by Rena Niehaus) that his name is Dan (played by Yorgo Voyagis).She thanks him for saving Mark who in turn could care less of this guy as he hates the guy. Christine has become very agitated with Mark and his visions as she comes to terms in her own mind as they are just his way to act out and their really his imagination running rampant. So she tries to make a life with her fiancé and Mark but problems with Mark's disability and her lovers refusal to find work because he wants to marry her for an easy life. This guy is named Giorge (played by Fabio Gamma) and he becomes a vocal point at the near end of the movie as he starts to realize Mark's visions are coming true. As Christine becomes pregnant and has the baby full term in what seems like a few days (the timeline of this film is never spoken so your left wondering how the hell this is possible)?

Well as the end nears Mark knows his nephew is the antichrist so he's taken upon himself to kill the child. First attempt is thwarted when he tried to drown the child by pushing him into the river, but Giorge saves the child. His act of bravery is repaid with his demise as he’s killed by his wife’s friends as they seduced him and murdered him. Yes there was nudity. During a party after the events,Christine and her friends dance, drink and one even jokingly puts a skull mask on Mark who gets pissed and rips it off and fixes his hair. Mark seeing his sister has become too intoxicated to do anything sheepishly makes his way to his nephew and takes him. Christine drunkenly thinking Mark really loves his nephew lets him take him and then passes out on the table. Mark takes his nephew upstairs and to a room where Giorge's artwork and sculptures were and he cradles his nephew and then throws him and gives a new meaning to impaling an infant. The film ends not on a happy note but with a twist that makes no sense because well, it’s just not understandable. 

Pino Donnagio's Score from Damned in Venice (Pino is featured in Maestro Mania)

This film was good to a point, but it’s a clear rip off of three films: Rosemary's Baby, The Omen and The Exorcist. Sometimes I don't mind a good rip off but the ending kills the vibe of the whole movie I have to say the movie was okay. Will I ever watch it again? Maybe. But it probably won't happen unless Exhumed Films digs it up and puts it on during one of their many film events.

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