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The is is a fairly obscure and poorly distributed movie from 1977/78 that actually packs quite a punch. The fact there are only (at time of writing ) EIGHT reviews on IMDb proves how little seen it is. Now that I have watched it, I want everybody to know how good it is.
OK, it's no masterpiece but for any fan of 1970's -1980's European giallos and shockers it is bound to prove very enjoyable. That's not to say it is a giallo, although it is filmed like one, but the plot is more supernatural. Something along the lines of The Omen, the plot involves a brother and sister who live in Venice and due to a few unexpected events find themselves inheriting a boarding house. Mysterious bad omens wash over them and eventually the brother starts so suspect that evil forces are preying on them, but why? First of all I want to point out the setting of the film, which is very clearly shot on location in Venice, and it looks terrific. The boarding house has window views over the main waterway of the city and many outside scenes are shot in the city centre. It makes a difference! Secondly, the whole film has a recognisable Italian slant, particularly in the way religion is portrayed, and in a way that roots it well and truly in it's time frame of the 1970's, it is full of period and localization chic in my mind.
Next, all the performances are good. Although I watched the film in Italian with English subtitles it was still dubbed by the looks of things, but this did not matter. The performances are great, especially of the brother of the two main characters, who is blind and yet afflicted with gruesome visions of supernatural events and violence. He brings a naturalness to the role that make it very believable. The sister is pretty good too, although a less likable character, so her colder performance kind of fits the role.
There is a fair amount of violence, and some scenes do stand out, especially for a film made this in period. Most of the time, the younger brother's visions are a cue for something horrific to happen on camera, and this includes several nasty piercings of unfortunate people with nails and/or the end of a very sharp cane. There's also the discovery of a very effective rotting corpse which is quite revolting. Most people who have watched the movie, however, come away from it holding the memory of one single shocking scene involving a tiny baby which even had me gasping - you'll know it when you see it! Don't worry it doesn't look real but it would be unheard of in a British or American movie of the time, or even now I suspect.
However, one brief scene of shock would not be enough to make me recommend a movie (in the same way that the scene with the animated poker in "Patrick Viva Encore" didn't make me recommend that to anyone), but Nero Venezia would still be effective anyway. It really does have a sense of atmosphere, and although a lot of the plot is glossed over with a better script it could have really created a true atmosphere of corruption. Still worth a look if you can find it.
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