Gore in Venice Blu-ray Review
Full Moon Features
Standard Edition Blu-ray Release: June 6, 2022
Audio: Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 (see review for specifics)
Subtitles: English (forced)
Run Time: 98:46
Director: Mario Landi
Inspector Angelo De Paul (Jeff Blynn) is assigned to investigate a horrifying series of murders that have gripped Venice and left the authorities baffled. As the bodies mount, De Paul gets sucked deeper and deeper into a sleazy mystery, leading to a startling conclusion. (From Full Moon’s official synopsis)
Despite the plethora of gialli available on digital media in our current day & age and the continuing proliferation by filmmakers like Dario Argento, Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, and Luciano & Nicolás Onetti, the genre’s peak was short-lived, arguably peaking as early as 1972 in terms of popularity. As Italian audiences lost interest in existing formulas, filmmakers opted to lean into its horror and sexploitation elements, inspired by the growing popularity of gore-soaked zombie and cannibal movies. By the early ‘80s, gialli and North American slashers (which were partially influenced by gialli in the first place) were successfully combined into films, like Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper (Italian: Lo squartatore di New York, 1982), Juan Piquer Simón’s Pieces (Spanish: Mil gritos tiene la noche, 1982), and Lamberto Bava’s A Blade in the Dark (Italian: La casa con la scala nel buio, 1983), but late ‘70s gialli were less focused.
During this transitional period, producer Gabriele Crisanti developed a model for low-budget, high shock value, second or third generation rip-offs of horror movies and thrillers that already pulled big money at the Italian box office. For good measure, he and his directors often shot additional hardcore footage for the porno crowd. The effort began in earnest in 1979 with Strip Nude for Your Killer (Italian: Nude per l'assassino, 1975) director Andrea Bianchi’s Exorcist cash-in, Malabimba, and Mario Landi’s excessively grimy murder mystery, Giallo in Venice (Italian: Giallo a Venezia), hereto referred to under its international title, Gore in Venice. Gore in Venice (a title I assume is a joke reference to Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice [Italian: Morte a Venezia, 1971; based on the 1912 novella by Thomas Mann]) is light on plot, high on sex and violence. Though grotesque and wildly exploitative, it isn’t as consistently graphic as some other late-stage, post-slasher gialli, like New York Ripper in particular, which benefits from being made by a visionary talent like Lucio Fulci. Its closest cousin might be Joe D’Amato’s giallo-esque Buio Omega (aka: Beyond the Darkness and Buried Alive, 1979), minus that film’s sense of pacing, tone, and craft.
What it lacks in technical knowhow, mood, and creativity, Gore in Venice attempts to make up for in persistent grossness. Make-up artist Mauro Gavazzi does his best with subpar materials, but the gore is shot in impossibly long takes that give away every ounce of his tricks. The three nastiest moments – a woman who is stabbed repeatedly in the vagina with scissors, a man burned to a tender black crisp after being covered in gasoline, and a different woman who has her leg sawed off while she’s still alive, then quartered and shoved into a refrigerator – feel like latter day Herschell Gordon Lewis gags. Perhaps a meaner than Lewis ever managed (he tended not to mix aspects of his roughie and gore movies), but definitely in the same foam rubber ballpark. This is arguably a blessing in disguise, because, similar to Lewis’ gore, the phoniness obscures the conceptual bleakness, making it darkly funny, instead of frightening or disturbing.
Ultimately, the rape scenes are much more appalling, because they feel infinitely more realistic and are presented alongside conventionally provocative, protracted, and borderline hardcore sex scenes (there was, apparently, a version with hardcore inserts). The conflation of pleasure, exploitation, and violation (a theme best exemplified when the couple at the center of the film has sex in a crowded theater while a violent rape scene plays on the screen) is especially unpleasant. Critically, though, it is sort of funny that Gore in Venice is 50% a couple’s increasingly barbaric, voyeuristic sex fantasy and that those scenes take place in flashback during the investigation scenes of a murder mystery.
Crisanti, Landi, and actor Gianni Dei re-teamed for Patrick Still Lives (Italian: Patrick vive ancora, 1980), an unofficial and unsanctioned sequel to Richard Franklin’s Patrick (1978) that took Gore in Venice’s vaginal stabbing to the extreme by impaling Mariangela Giordano from her crotch through her mouth with a fireplace poker. Giordano was Crisanti’s romantic partner at the time and is violently murdered in basically all of his horror movies from the period, including this film’s fridging and a showstopping, climatic death at the end of Bianchi’s Burial Ground (Italian: Le notti del terrore; aka: The Nights of Terror, Zombie Horror, and Zombie 3, 1981), where she offers her zombified son a nude breast to suckle (courtousy of Mauro Gavazzi, who, once again, does his best with limited means to mimic the artistry of Fulci collaborator Giannetto De Rossi). Patrick Still Lives was Landi’s final feature as director. The following year, he created/directed a talk show called Lo scatolone, then retired from filmmaking.
This is the first Full Moon Blu-ray I’ve ever seen that wasn’t an in-house production (under the Empire or Full Moon banners), so I didn’t know what to expect. I did know that Scorpion released a Ronin Flix exclusive limited edition that is now sold out. Both discs have rather un-specific information about their transfers, but I believe they are both based on the same 2018 restoration (which was also used for German-based X Rated Kult’s 2016 Blu-ray/DVD). DVDbeaver.com has some full-sized screen-caps included with their review, which illustrated that the two releases are very similar, but not identical. Detail, color temperature, and overall level balance is close to identical, but Scorpion managed to clean up the most significant print damage. This transfer has its fair share of white dots and minor scratches (most between reel changes), which doesn’t bother me, personally, since I tend to prefer authentic print damage to excessive digital artifacts. In that regard, I noticed basically zero edge enhancement or blocking problems and only a smidge of smudging in the fine grain. A full 4K rescan of the original negative (the artifacts tell me that this was definitely taken from a printed source) and regrading might have helped decrease black crush, but colors are still as vibrant as we can expect from such a grimy movie. One advantage the Scorpion release has over this one is that the Full Moon disc has forced English subtitles. My guess as to how this happened is that this is the exact version of the film Full Moon has streaming on their subscription service, which had forced subtitles. That’s just a theory and most of us will probably be watching the film with subtitles, anyway, so it comes down to a bad practice that doesn’t otherwise mar the viewing experience.
The back of the box claims that this disc has two audio options, 2.0 and 5.1, but the reality is much weirder. Both tracks are compressed Dolby Digital mixes that are essentially engaging all three front channels. From what I can tell, this is a Pro-logic track and a 5.1 track recreating the Pro-Logic sound with discrete stereo channels. In other words, two centered mono mixes with slight stereo echo tracks. The track labeled 2.0 works better and is louder overall, so I’d recommend sticking to that one. Composer Berto Pisano was known for classing up a number of Gabriele Crisanti productions and this is no exception, mostly consisting of the unnecessarily romantic, jazzy, and oft-repeated suite that plays during the impossibly long sex and rape scenes, and a genuinely eerie bit of dissonance that underlines the gory murders.
The only extras here are trailers for other Euro-trash movies that Full Moon has rights to stream. The OOP Scorpion disc has a commentary track with author Troy Howarth.
The images on this page are taken from the BD and sized for the page. Larger versions can be viewed by clicking the images. Note that there will be some JPG compression.