Several young women have been reported missing recently in Venice. All the girls have been around seventeen or eighteen years of age. Although they have been reported as drowned no bodies have been found. Reporter Andrea (Luigi Martocci) believes a sex fiend serial killer is responsible. His editor says that without evidence he can’t print any of Andrea’s suspicions. The police commissioner also can’t do anything without proof.

What no one knows is that Andrea is closer than the police realize to what is going on in the city. A mad man in a scuba diving suit is kidnapping young girls and drowning them in the canals. He then takes them to his underwater lair and embalms them to preserve their beauty. Once they are embalmed he displays them in glass cases to admire them. When not in his scuba diving outfit he wears a monk’s cowl with a skeleton mask and wanders around in a subterranean building that once was a monastery.

A group of college girls on a class trip arrives in Venice. The girls’ chaperone, Maureen, asks Andrea for directions to their hotel. Andrea becomes interested in the chaperone and agrees to show them around the city. With them is an archeologist, Professor Schwartz, who is researching the city of Venice and its sunken buildings. When he figures out where the sunken monastery is the embalmer kills him.

Soon after that, Grace, one of the college girls that Andrea has been escorting around Venice, disappears in front of her friends. Since no bodies are ever found Andrea figures out that the killer must be a scuba diver taking the girls to some underground place. The only thing he can do is go underwater himself and try to find the killer’s secret lair.

“The Embalmer” AKA “The Monster of Venice” AKA “Il mostro di Venezia” was released in 1965 and was directed by Dino Tavella. It is a horror film and a giallo.

This is one of those films that ended up in Alpha Video’s “Pure Terror” 50 movie pack and Mill Creek’s multi-pack video releases. That is regrettable since the movie, even with its faults, is an example of not only a giallo but of a combination Italian gothic horror film and an Edgar Wallace German krimi.

Unfortunately it’s not a good example. The title is intriguing but the film is rather slow and dull. There’s no real character development and the film itself is rather degraded so everything is fuzzy and muffled. Adding to that is the rather bad dubbing from Italian to English.

A lot of those things are not the movie’s fault but director Tavella only did two movies and was not up to the task. The film could have been so much better than it is in the right hands. The plot is an interesting one and the atmosphere would have been creepy if the film had been done properly. Instead it just plods along to the point where you don’t really care who the killer is and when the big reveal comes it’s not very impressive.