What makes The Embalmer stand out from other movies of the giallo genre is its killer – a man in a scuba suit who abducts his victims and thereafter drowns them, all of which are women, and then proceeds to take them to his underground lair where he puts them on display for all time. The film itself is fairly standard and whether you watch the English-language version or in the original Italian as Il mostro di Venezia, it is the scuba-themed murderer that makes things interesting.
Writer and director Dino Tavella takes his killer and drops him into an average story that is serviceable and while it never gets overly tedious, it could have been just a little more exciting and featured a little more substance. As it is, you will manage to hang in there because those moments when the killer appears makes it all worthwhile. He is somewhat creepy; if not a little scary in his methodology and seeing his museum of women is a little unsettling. In that respect, the movie succeeded with its elements of crime and horror shining through. If Tavella had not introduced the unique elements that he did, the movie would probably be indistinguishable from any other giallo and more than likely be forgotten thirty seconds after you finished watching it. As it stands, it sticks with you for a bit due to those few unforgettable scenes.
As to the direction and cinematography, there was nothing that would overly standout as being revolutionary nor was the score memorable in the least. The actors were decent, but nobody you would ever know with no one standing out from anyone else. This was by all accounts, a movie that would have had nothing going for it if not for one great idea in the midst of it all. Thankfully that idea, that killer made it all worthwhile and transformed mediocrity into something to watch when nothing else is available.
2.5 out of 5