Uri Geller’s Cursed

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Ah, Uri Geller. For a man so spectacularly up my alley, at the exact convergence point of naff paranormalism and television kooks, it was inevitable we’d meet on these pages for a deep dive. I have touched on Geller before, briefly in my book Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal, and in his appearance on Gamesmaster. He is, to put it in a way he won’t sue me for, an interesting man. Famously litigious, I’d like to state for the record, Uri is definitely real, and bends spoons with his mind and not just his hands when people aren’t looking. He absolutely does not flag copyright claims on his Gotcha clip from Noel’s House Party whenever it turns up on YouTube, as a hidden camera at an unfortunate angle definitely didn’t inadvertently catch him physically bending a spoon under the table. No, Uri Geller is legit, and 100% not a man who’s made an entire career off the back of basic conjuring tricks coupled with the distanced, alien aura of a colossal weirdo.

But whatever you believe about Uri Geller’s claims of extraordinary powers, it’s clear that he believes it, taking credit for various historic occurrences over the years. Moving the opposition’s ball during England’s penalty shoot-outs, the signing of nuclear arms treaties, Boris Johnson’s election win (via the gift of a spoon infused with positive energy), and the interruption of a crucial Brexit vote when a broken pipe flooded the House of Commons; if it happened, it was thanks to Geller, psychically altering the very molecules of our timeline like Dr. Manhattan. But like every tortured movie psychic, he’s pathologically incapable of turning it off. In an early 2000’s Channel 4 documentary, he exhausted everyone on a family holiday by repeatedly trying to guess the age of a stranger’s dog, while his Vimeo account’s packed with dozens of videos where he wanders through Israel at night, switching off street lights (and definitely not security lights on timers) with his mind; “1, 2, 3… turn off!

(Note: since originally posting this on Patreon last month, Uri’s at it again, using his powers to make Scotland’s opposition miss a penalty, and definitely not just rewinding his Sky+ and pretending)

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Though in some circles, he was best known as Michael Jackson‘s best mate — until suggesting MJ go with Martin Bashir instead of Louis Theroux, for a film which ended up sparking another child abuse trial, ending their friendship — Geller’s career has been ludicrously expansive. In truly countless TV appearances, he wowed audiences by using his mind (and not a magnetic ring) to make compasses move, radish seeds sprout in his hand, and to fix the broken appliances of viewers by having them hold it to the screen and shout “work!” He’s been on Stars in Their Eyes (as Charles Aznavour), I’m a Celebrity (finishing in last place), cameoed in a 1976 issue of Daredevil, and even released a single of spoken word poetry, reciting it in phonetic Japanese for the foreign pressing. Perhaps the highlight of a simply bursting CV is in a comedy sketch, telepathically bending Lenny Henry’s dick, and causing him to violently douse the bloke at the next urinal with hot piss.

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But while there’s an outrageous number of documentaries about Uri Geller, the thing I’m focussing on is a rare example of his taking the role as presenter. Uri Geller’s Haunted Cities: Venice aired on Sky One, Sunday January 9th, 2005 at 9pm, and judging from the title, I’m assuming it was a pilot for a prospective series of Uri bending in various locales.

Uri’s voiceover, both in grizzled foreign accent and misanthropic content, sounds like one of those bad Werner Herzog impressions, tragically overwrought in its attempts to inspire dread, as he tells us he’s “travelled the world in pursuit of the supernatural,” and come to a city he feels has been calling to him for years; a place “bedevilled by unexplained paranormal forces and death.” It’s all straight from the paranormal TV playbook, with spooky establishing shots of old buildings and portentous flocks of birds. This is a tiny production, and at points, Uri will allude to a crew, but it’s just him and a director/cameraman. Everything’s shot handheld on classic noughties digital video, which gives the feel of a holiday video by a divorced dad whose kids were meant to be coming, but cancelled last minute for a friend’s BBQ, leaving him traipsing round Venice alone, trying to strike up conversations with people who don’t speak English by putting an ‘a’ on the end of every word in a loud voice.

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Uri’s investigating the curse of Palazzo Dario (in native tongue Ca’Dario); a haunted palace overlooking the Grand Canal, whose mysteries he’s determined to solve. Anyone who lives in the sumptuous mansion will die, with a litany of murders, suicides, unexplained deaths, and bankruptcies in its walls. Rumours say the Devil lives there, and supposedly Woody Allen was interested in buying, but got scared off by its reputation. “I’ll be honest with you,” says famed truth-teller Uri Geller, “I’m terrified!” However, it turns out Uri’s yet to schedule a visit to the currently-empty palazzo, and doesn’t know who owns it, or even have details for anyone who can get him inside.

To enhance my sensitivity to Venice’s underworld,” he’s staying at another haunted palace, where the bedroom confessional cams are shot, in a classic example of superimposing a viewfinder and flashing red dot with the word REC to pretend it’s a different camera. There’s a weird sequence of Uri in bed clearly just pretending to sleep, anxiously twitching like a dog dreaming of squirrels, and obviously filming himself, like an Instagram captioned “can’t believe my gf took this of me sleeping lol” with a reflection that reveals the phone in their own hand. The general tone is a preposterous self-seriousness, every scene with Uri gazing into the middle distance, intensely and quietly ruminating; a body language that embodies headshots of men’s rights authors, thoughtfully grasping their chins while musing on Disney’s race-pandering and whether raw meat makes your big penis even bigger. Few have ever taken themselves so seriously as Uri Geller does in Venice.

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Days are introduced in caption like The Shining, suggesting our slide towards impending doom, and it’s off to a flier, as the morning after they arrive, Venice suffers its worst flooding in fifty years. Of course, it’s interpreted as a bad omen, with the very city itself trying to keep Uri from his quest; “an obstacle that has been thrown in my path to test me, perhaps?” This whole subplot where the presenter’s not merely investigating, but actively meddling with dark forces, which may even follow them home, was hugely popular with ghost hunting shows around this time, with everyone acting like they had ghost-induced PTSD. When Most Haunted‘s rigger developed alopecia, it was sold as the trauma of a spiritual attack, and the opening of every live show saw its audience treat the cast like heroic, battle scared soldiers returning from conflict. Thankfully, this does give us a truly incredible Alan Partridge moment, as seen below.

Alright, stop shouting! Perfectly normal, by the way, to enjoy your fashionable Italian breakfast, daintily dabbing the corners of your mouth with a tissue, while squatting on a table like a goblin because all the chairs are submerged in filthy canal water. With no hook-ups for the palazzo, sad Uri’s left trudging round the city in wellies, bothering random locals in the hopes they can help, pestering waiters who don’t speak English about Da’Cario, like someone in Union Jack shorts trying to mime egg and chips to a Spaniard, leading to helpful exchanges like this.

     Waiter: “Very…

     Uri: “Very, huh?

     Waiter: “Murder.

     Uri: “Thank you.

I mustn’t keep invoking Alan, but there’s a huge Partridge in Paris energy, with the overly contemplative Uri cutting a lonely figure in Venice’s crowds, his ensemble of black polo neck and Wellington boots irrefutably Goth Casual, at one point taking off a jacket and slinging it over his shoulder — “a paranormalist in Venice. It’s Aleister Crowley. It’s Gomez Addams. It’s Kelly Osbourne.”

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Unable to actually visit the palazzo he’s there to investigate, most of the run-time’s taken with Uri establishing Venice as Hell itself, plagued with restless spirits and sites of gruesome historic murder. Story after story play out under Uri’s narration as cheap reconstructions; a monk burned at the stake who haunts the city by turning on taps; the butcher who filled his sausages with children’s flesh; a female gangster whose torso was dumped in the canal inside a suitcase. The scares are somewhat undercut by the quality of the recreations, where at one point, I’m almost certain you can spot the sellotape holding up a false beard.

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The relentless stream of horrors, coupled with talk of Venice Syndrome — a psychological condition drawing people there for the sole purpose of killing themselves — gives the impression anyone daring to visit will almost certainly be dragged beneath the waters by the city’s many devils, casting brave Uri as the paranormal equivalent of a warzone journalist, risking life, limb and mortal soul. Even visually, the city’s presented as gloomy and dangerous, in perpetual darkness, with daytime footage shrouded beneath murky day-for-night filters, and a stuttery frame-drop effect from 1980’s TOTP over endless footage of the camera following Uri as he staggers through a labyrinth of narrow, flood-slicked alleyways.

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The angle they’re going with is The Wicker Man‘s, of the outsider detective struggling to get the time of day from tight-mouthed locals, as windows literally shutter at the approach of his footsteps. With no response from Ca’Dario’s owners, he tracks down a builder who did some work there, only to have a door slammed in his face, packing an incredible amount of bad acting into its three seconds. Wandering Venice’s maze of murder alleys, Uri’s blanked at every turn, even to ask for directions. “You speak English?” he asks a woman laden with shopping — “No.” Stopping another group, he’s aghast when they refuse to talk about the curse, and absolutely livid to be told “I don’t know” when asked where the Grand Canal is. “It’s fucking there!” yells Uri, pointing at it, which begs the question why he was asking where it was. The dizzying section ends with Uri spinning, arms outstretched, his voice echoing in an empty square — “I’m lost, please, I’m lost! WHERE AM I? HELP ME!

Still unable to get in the haunted house, he makes an excursion to one of Venice’s plague islands, but not before a pensive cup of coffee, where we cut back to Uri’s empty cup to reveal the spoon inside is now bent. Once on the island, he’s psychically drawn to the old hospital, where a dirge of buzzing flies fill the soundtrack, and stumbles outside, sweaty and reeling. It’s there he senses something in the undergrowth, and with hands outstretched seemingly following a telepathic instinct towards the ground, he discovers a hidden trapdoor. “Oh my god… oh my god!” cries Uri, with a level of acting one might see on Christmas Day — “oh, a Jeremy Clarkson book, thanks, dad” — before reaching down and pulling out… an actual human skull.

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Fucking hell. Imagine you’re just walking round hundreds of years ago, living your life, not knowing that the head you carry on your shoulders, eat with, talk with, kiss your lover with, will one day be casually picked up as a prop by that bloke who bends cutlery with his mind (and definitely not with his hands). “Oh my god, what have I found?!” he says, tossing it down wherever and fleeing. “I feel I’ve gotten into something even I didn’t bargain for.” Me too. Hard cut to Uri Geller in the shower, scrubbing off the bad vibes of the plague pit, though thankfully he’s only seen from the shoulders up, because with his powers, I bet he’s got a cock like a Curly Wurly.

Following the desecration of an unmarked grave, Day 3 begins with pulling on wellies in front of a Wonderbra billboard, before a visit to a cemetery on All Souls Day, where he idly fiddles with memorial trinkets on graves as he meanders through. Then, stood wistfully staring at the palazzo, he finally lands a meeting with Ca’Dario’s estate agent, and takes him down an alley, specifically so the house can’t see them gossiping about it. The estate agent confirms that people have heard noises at night, which is all the info he gives, as the conversation ends very abruptly with Uri suddenly pulling the man into a tight embrace and bidding him “bye bye!

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By the final act, a now-shirtless Uri’s confessionals are those of a beaten man, feeling his plan to “channel positivity into the house” and defeat the curse may be beyond even him. There’s another shot of Uri sleeping, twitching in nightmares shown as a montage of the recreations, though as it zooms in on his squirming face, it rather looks as though he’s having a powerful psychic wank. Soon he’s up and about, woken by ghostly noises tapping on the pipes, continuing the old story of the investigator getting lost inside his own case. “I’m so tired,” he says, rubbing his eyes.

At this point, there’s a very offhand cut to a green-tinted night vision shot of Uri sat up in bed, where, some feet away, a wooden chair moves across the floor by itself. “I’m really stunned that I can move this chair like this with my mind,” he says, in incongruously calm voiceover; “or is it an external force at work?” Is a piece of string an external force, Uri mate? Repeatedly, the chair drags itself across the floor, inches at a time, as he explains this is telekinesis, “but I’ve never been able to do it as easy as this before, and that really scares me.” Then it’s straight onto Day 4, the whole chair thing dropped in with an absurd faux-casualness; like someone coming back from the pub toilets with a “that was a nice wee I just had out of my ten-inch willy. Anyone see the game last night?” Replicate this in lab conditions, and Uri would be confirmed and lauded as the most amazing man in the world that he constantly tells you he is, but it’s just another day at the office — “My Ferrari? Oh, that old thing?”

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On the final day, he’s somehow landed access to Ca’Dario, via a housekeeper (that we never see). He feels like St. George about to face the dragon, praying the house doesn’t kill him, and telling the story of his friend Kit Lambert, manager of The Who, a former owner who died mysteriously from a haemorrhage (although from a quick Google, he actually died in London after allegedly being pushed down a staircase by a drug dealer). The empty palazzo is unfurnished, and Uri reckons its curse may be due to the architect looting relics from the mystic East; that “a piece designed to ward off evil in an Eastern environment, when misplaced here, has worked in the reverse.” He brings up Woody Allen’s interest again, whose superstitious wife put him off buying, but with a really obviously dubbed in after-the-fact-for-legal-reasons “ALLEGEDLY” which sounds like it was recorded in a toilet. See for yourself.

It’s then that he hears banging downstairs, and takes out a dowsing pendulum to seek out problematic spots of dark energy, leading him to the fireplace. “There’s something here…” he says, crystal swinging wildly, “yes yes!” Now with a taste for vandalism, he tugs at a loose brick, pulling out an old black and white photograph of a mummified corpse, dated 1941, which had been secreted many years earlier. Fearing ghostly repercussions, he puts it back, before a sudden fourth wall break, telling the cameraman “I can’t take it anymore. Stop. Stop filming.” It’s another Oscar-worthy performance as he stomps out of the palazzo — “there’s evil here!” — pleading with the crew to get out, before losing it all together. “Jason, I told you once, CUT! GET OUT OF HERE!” A desperate Uri grabs the boom mic, “GET THAT FUCKING BOOM OUT OF HERE, GET OUT OF HERE!

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Uri Geller’s Haunted Cities: Venice ends with blurry footage of the crew pelting for safety before making escape via boat like James Bond, and a closing voiceover that really leans into the Bobby-Davro-does-Herzog deal, describing Da’Cario as “like radiation; you can only be exposed to so much. It’s eclectic structure reeks of discord like an out of tune piano, and it’s this disharmony that feeds the curse. I hope I have not fallen pray to the curse of Ca’Dario. Only time will tell.” But like the ghost hunter who thinks it’s all over, only to realise the demons have followed them home, our nightmare has only just begun, as I regret to inform you there’s a second version of this show; one which sheds new light on events in the original.

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Giving no other context, and labelled on YouTube as Awful Re-Edit by Uri Geller, what I can surmise from Googling its production logo, this seems to be a version sold to Germany and Greece, as part of a package deal with the original, under the new title of Uri Geller’s Cursed. Though judging from a trailer, it’s an early cut of something intended for much wider release. What this definitively isn’t is the version that aired on Sky, reusing almost none of the footage, and falling under a different genre altogether, although running the same length at 74 minutes. Going in completely blind, little did I know, this would be the single greatest discovery in all my years as pop culture archaeologist of terrible, terrible shit; both the best and worst thing I have ever seen.

Haunted Venice 2.0 opens with text quotes bigging up yer man’s credentials; a professor of psychology stating “Uri Geller is extraordinarily gifted in telepathy”; the rather nebulous-sounding New Horizon Research Center, on his having “bent or divided” metal objects “such as to prove conclusively that the phenomena were genuine and paranormal.” A third endorsement from a physicist fills the screen, bragging how Uri wonkied his key, as more captions identify Uri as a “paranormalist,” who was invited to investigate Venice by a major TV network. Intriguingly, it’s described as a document of that trip, “interspersed with disturbing images from the film footage that Geller discovered.” Uri then bends a spoon.

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The opening’s far more cinematic than the original, with spooky shots of Venice under an original score, landing on the word CURSED written in condensation on a window, tinted red to look bloody. As it turns out, this is less a re-edit than a complete do-over, taking a hard left turn from documentary to… something else entirely. It’s a long ol’ while before we get to Venice, starting two weeks earlier, where Uri’s stricken with a psychic flu, brought about by delving into the cursed palazzo [BEEP]. Jarringly, as explained by more captions, this time, the producers have ‘had to’ hide the identity of Ca’Dario to protect the owner’s identity.

What follows are a series of video diaries, more professionally lit and lacking that REC nonsense, of the lead-up to Uri’s trip; cancelling a lecture in Sunderland because of dark energies; being interviewed on a “hit talk radio show”; sharing his story of the day a ghost banged on his front door. Round here we call that Knock Down Ginger. But mainly, the pre-amble’s an exercise in establishing Uri Geller as important and well-connected, dropping names like a shitty juggler, to crowbar in a series of phonecalls where famous friends — knowledgable in “curses, omens, supernatural, the paranormal” — give him advice.

Unfortunately, he’d fallen out with Jacko by then, so we get a private jet salesman, writers Colin Wilson and James Herbert — the latter Uri’s sure to tell us has had a book turned into a movie starring Kate Beckinsale — and “world famous, world renowned fashion designer” Roberto Cavalli. Wilson warns that a ghost could use Uri’s powers to travel from the TV into viewer’s homes (like Mr. Pipes), while Cavalli fails to answer a dozen calls. Of course, this is suggested to be the curse working its wicked magick, leading to footage of Uri shouting into a Blackberry, over-pronouncing his own name to Cavalli’s secretary at the top of his lungs — “OO-REE GE-LEHR!” Evidently, a couple of years from the launch of the iPhone, Blackberries were the fancyboy gadget of choice, as there are many scenes of Uri holding one up to his face while pretending to listen to messages which were dubbed on afterwards.

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Fifteen minutes in, Uri brings up a mysterious videotape. He’s evasive with details, only that it contains “horrible crimes” and they’ve sent it to the Italian authorities, who never replied. Incredibly confusing, not until much later does it become clear that some video diaries — this one included — date from after the visit to Venice. The tape itself shows a shirtless man covered in stage blood, thrashing and screaming in a scene of extremely poor no-budget horror, which Uri seems to imply is a paranormal snuff film. In a massive coincidence, it’s lit, framed and shot with wobbly close-ups in bad DV exactly in the distinctive house style of all the flashback/recreations from the Sky version of Haunted Venice.

While the first had the pretence of being a regular TV doc, this one’s constructed to elicit cheap scares, filling its eerie soundtrack with ticking clocks and screeching cats, and using loud jumps, like a sudden (and hilariously off-topic) close-up of a grey alien, which genuinely made me shit it. Even as Uri plays up how he may never return home, sweetly saying goodbye to his wife, it cuts abruptly to the pained death-howls of the ‘snuff’ tape. It’s almost half an hour in before we finally arrive in Venice, where Uri shows off his protective talismen, before a scene which feels like it got edited in by mistake. He’s oddly chipper, discussing how pleased he is with the establishing shots of birds the director’s got, and how much he’s looking forwards to making the film, which he tellingly calls a “docudrama.”

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Day One passes without note, as does Day Two, and where the first version was overpacked with ghost stories, when Cursed gets abroad, it becomes Slow TV, with languid shots of a pensive Uri strolling round Venice or sipping coffee, and murky footage of canals and clouds. Sparse voiceovers come like ad breaks, with Uri telling us he’s feeling anxious, before three more long, wordless minutes of doomy skies and buildings; a pan across an empty marsh; a construction crane; Uri pretending to be asleep on a boat. I cannot stress firmly enough that nothing is happening. Who’s this for? It’s all filler, with a somnambulist pace that’s ASMR for occultists; the demented travelogue of a 60 year old man, meandering flooded streets, convinced he’s going to die of ghosts.

Occasionally, he’ll chat with a tourist, asking a Welsh family if they believe in the paranormal, but you can’t hear them over the droning soundtrack and perma-slosh of the canal, so it doesn’t matter. On Day Three, we briefly see the cemetery visit, under the sound of howling winds, before more of him ‘asleep’ on a boat, flat on his back like Dracula on his way to Whitby. And about that soundtrack. Every scene is egregiously dubbed with whistling winds, buzzing flies and spooky creaking noises, straight off BBC Sound Effects No. 13 — Death & Horror, all cranked so high, it sounds like a weatherman reporting from the middle of a hurricane. Voiceovers witter on with words like “dark facade” and “mystery,” but there’s zero investigating, and when he reaches plague island, it’s more slow-mo of Uri Geller rambling through a muddy field for ages and ages. They briefly show the finding of the skull, but weirdly zoomed in, with grotty filters so you can’t see it properly, and none of the original audio.

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On the third night, as per onscreen caption, he’s been woken by noises, and is down in the hotel basement with a torch. Uri’s performance is pure Scooby Doo, eyes flitting side-to-side, jaw agape — “do I hear this, or is it my mind again?” Suddenly, a ghostly shriek comes out of the darkness, and Uri screams in fright as it cuts to black. Day Four, which makes no mention of the shriek, nor the chair-moving incident from that same night in the Sky version, sees Uri off to the palazzo.

This time, there’s nothing about struggling to get access; no builders or estate agents; but plenty of creepy dubbed-on gurgling baby noises, followed by a 15 second shot of the moon and 45 seconds of night time buildings and sky. He wanders the garden, finding a water hole, before three long, silent minutes of Ca’Dario’s interiors. Initially, the tone’s markedly different from 1.0, with Uri calmly admiring the beautiful woodwork and picking up ornaments on the mantle. But it’s there that he finds a camcorder tape. “Is this one of ours?” An offscreen voice confirms that it looks the same. “Are you still rolling?” asks Uri, pocketing the video and continuing the shoot. This tape is the snuff film.

Keep in mind, the previous hour has been an overly-sedate documentary with occasional silliness, so the turn it takes in the final ten minutes is absolutely fucking wild. A door slams shut out of frame. “What the hell was that?!” says Uri, taking off towards it and feverishly yanking on the handle. “I’ve gotta get in here! I’ve gotta open this door!” The acting here is truly an astonishing new low for these pages, as Haunted Venice goes full Blair Witch. Uri gets the door open, revealing a nursery where empty rocking chairs move by themselves and stock SFX of children’s laughter can be heard. The camera swings back to Uri, but he’s gone all blurry — Blurry Geller — and when it finds its focus, a ghostly child is standing there, plain as day. “Holy shit,” says the cameraman. Yeah.

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Let’s pause a second to remind ourselves both versions of the show were filmed at the same time; this more… dramatic take (though still presented as genuine) and the very real and legitimate Sky documentary. It’s quite a coincidence for Uri to have found that photo in the fireplace — an incident not shown in Cursed — while they were dicking around with props and effects for this version, and for a magic-man whose entire career hinged on his abilities being 100% realsies, it’s a strange muddying of the waters. I’d imagine he was fuming when he realised this might throw doubt on his earlier moving of the chair, which he did with telekinesis and not with fishing wire like the rocking chairs here.

The camera finds Uri sat on the bed, telling us there’s a presence; “maybe more than one… I did not expect a child spirit here.” The whole building starts to rattle with creaks, bangs and whispers like a shit version of The Haunting, and he makes a run for it — “something is pushing me out of this house. I’ve gotta find the truth!” Even the ghosts are impressed by his fancy Blackberry, causing it to ring. “That’s funny,” says Uri, “my phone is shut.” But all that’s on the end are terrible ghostly screams. “What the hell was that? I need some air…

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Instead of going outside, he somehow ends up alone in the basement, filming himself on night vision for a breathless conclusion, stumbling in the dark over Hot Topic horror movie objet d’art; a spooky mannequin; human bones; a large cage. Panic sets in when he can’t find the way out, with a loud jump scare as an angry, demonic face rears into camera from inside the cage. “KEEP AWAY! KEEP AWAY!” yells Uri, flailing against the locked exit with his fists, for the classic found footage trope of the victim’s terrified face filling the lens in fleeting green flashes. Once out of the basement, they reuse the scene of him angrily telling Jason to cut, with a reply in obvious ADR, “Uri, I need a few more shots,” as spoonboi pelts off down an alley. We cut to a black screen with another caption.

     “The following recording was taken from the dictaphone that Uri Geller brought with him to each location while filming in Venice.”

This, it’s explained, is from the basement scene, where unusual sounds were discovered when the tape was played back — “What follows is the entire recording.” While Uri’s begging to be let out, we hear demonic growls which, honestly, sound pretty avuncular. It’s meant to be the pièce de résistance of frights, but sounds like Chewbacca talking in his sleep. Uri’s voiceover reveals the doc was filmed over a year ago, and its events “will haunt me for the rest of my life.” The snuff tape’s played again, with a caption that it’s been “provided to the proper authorities.” Who’s that, Uri mate, the bin? There’s one final treat tucked away at the end of the credits, for fans of legal requirements; “after filming at the palazzo, certain images became mysteriously distorted, requiring recreation.” Did they, aye?

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One note about production, though it plays out over an escalating four days, Haunted Venice was actually shot in eight. Its genesis lies in a 2003 documentary about Irish ghosts by director/cameraman (and offscreen voice) Jason Figgis, of which Uri was so impressed, he contacted Figgis, before the two set up a production company together. Uri described Figgis as “Ireland’s Spielberg,” and Venice was intended to be merely the first of many projects they were developing, including a film called 3 Crosses, described as “a violent gangster movie in which Coronation Street star Keith Duffy plays a serial killer, written and directed by Figgis, with Geller as executive producer and in a supporting role.

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While Figgis now has an enormous list of directorial credits; mostly horror; sadly, the film co-starring him off Boyzone as a murderer alongside Uri Geller never materialised. As for Haunted Cities: Venice, the show was intended to emulate the creeping dread of Japanese horror, but in every scant interview or reference, is described and categorised — as it is on IMDB — as a documentary. In the lead-up to airing, Uri was very clear to point out there was no dramatisation, and events occurred exactly as shown.

Uri’s final coda on the mysterious tape was that “the victim was never identified.” I can identify the victim in all this. It’s me. This whole thing left me reeling. I expected your standard bad paranormal documentary from one of televisions’s overly-dramatic oddballs, but in classic arrogant ghost hunter fashion, found myself blundering into something far darker, for which I was not prepared. There’s almost no reference to Uri Geller’s Haunted Cities: Venice online, particularly the European cut. It’s as though it never happened, and I feel like I’m sole living witness — for now. Is this how it feels for people who see Bigfoot or UFOs? Let this written piece serve as document to my experiences, although it all sounds so implausible — a Uri Geller documentary recut into (an unbelievably inept) found footage horror film — alas, I that fear nobody will believe me, and just like Uri, the events in Venice shall haunt me the rest of my days.

This piece first appeared on my Patreon, where subscribers could read it a month before it landed here. If you’d like to support me for as little as $1 a month, then click here to help provide the world with regular deep dives about weird-bad pop culture, early access to my podcast, and all kinds of other stuff.

There’s a ton of content, including exclusives that’ll never appear here on the free blog, such as 1970’s British variety-set horror novella, Jangle, and my latest novel, Men of the Loch. Please give my existing books a look too, or if you’re so inclined, sling me a Ko-fi.

~ by Stuart on November 22, 2020.

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