Venom


1h 33m 1981

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1981
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m

Synopsis

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1981
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m

Articles

Venom on DVD


It sounds like some casting director's wildest fantasy - signing up Oliver Reed, Susan George, Klaus Kinski, Sarah Miles, Sterling Hayden, and Nicol Williamson to star in a movie about a killer reptile on the loose. And incredibly enough, it all came to fruition in the largely forgotten 1982 thriller, Venom, now on DVD from Blue Underground. Directed by Piers Haggard (Blood on Satan's Claw, 1970), the film opens with a ten-year-old boy (Lance Holcomb) being left in the care of his grandfather (Hayden) while his mother (Cornelia Sharpe - terrible actress!) joins her husband in Africa. Meanwhile, the boy's chauffeur (Reed), his nanny (George) and a sinister third party (Kinski) prepare to kidnap the boy and extort a ransom from his wealthy parents. Throwing an unexpected kink into the abductors' plan, however, is the boy's recent purchase from an exotic pet shop. When he makes the mistake of opening it at home, the harmless snake he ordered is not inside but something else is - a deadly Black Mamba snake. And it gets loose in the house, of course, where it plays a nerve-wracking game of hide and seek with the occupants. Complicating the situation further is the fact that the trigger-happy chauffeur killed an investigating policeman and now the entire block is surrounded by Scotland Yard's finest. The remainder of the film zigzags between the hostage situation inside the house and the attempts of Williamson's team to gain access to the house, subdue the criminals and CATCH THAT DAMN SNAKE.

First, the good news. Venom has probably the creepiest snake attack sequences of any killer reptile movie. Black Mambas are not only completely psychotic and attack anything that moves but they can also hurl themselves into the air and across rooms at a distance of ten feet or more. The first attack sequence in the movie (seen from the snake's distorted point of view) is the most repulsive, with the victim being bitten repeatedly on the face and neck. Even worse is what happens after the attack; the victim begins shaking uncontrollably, gasping for breath, before collapsing into floor-writhing seizures, complete with foaming mouth. We won't tell you which character buys it early in Venom but we will say it's an Oscar worthy death scene, if awards were given for those alone. The bad news is simply this - there aren't enough snake attacks. Despite several atmospheric shots of the Black Mamba slithering through the central air ducts of the house, up drapes and into cabinets, too much time is spent on pointless exposition like Kinski trying to broker a deal with the chief inspector. An attempt to establish a romantic attraction between Miles, as a renown herpetologist, and Williamson's stern cop, doesn't work at all. And the jeopardized boy and his rather feeble grandfather elicit more annoyance than sympathy in their situation. The only other aspect that keeps the film lively is the general animosity that exists between Reed and Kinski. Whether screaming in rage or threatening each other with bodily harm, they dominate every scene they're in and Kinski's fractured attempts to master his English dialogue are frequently hilarious.

The Blue Underground DVD of Venom is a class act all the way from the visual presentation (did the film ever look this good in theatres?) in a 1.85:1/16:9 widescreen format to the extra features which include an audio commentary with director Piers Haggard. We learn that Haggard was brought in as a replacement director in the 11th hour after the cast and crew were already assembled. Although he bemoans the fact that he wasn't allowed to make changes to the script (which would have improved the narrative flow), his biggest problem was trying to keep the peace among his warring cast members, particularly Kinski and Reed, who hated each other on sight. And that's pretty obvious on screen which is one reason why Venom might be more fun to watch with Haggard's commentary track. After all, who doesn't want to hear how Reed often tried to upstage Kinski in their scenes together which usually sent Kinski into a murderous rage.

For more information about Venom, visit Blue Underground. To order Venom, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeff Stafford
Venom On Dvd

Venom on DVD

It sounds like some casting director's wildest fantasy - signing up Oliver Reed, Susan George, Klaus Kinski, Sarah Miles, Sterling Hayden, and Nicol Williamson to star in a movie about a killer reptile on the loose. And incredibly enough, it all came to fruition in the largely forgotten 1982 thriller, Venom, now on DVD from Blue Underground. Directed by Piers Haggard (Blood on Satan's Claw, 1970), the film opens with a ten-year-old boy (Lance Holcomb) being left in the care of his grandfather (Hayden) while his mother (Cornelia Sharpe - terrible actress!) joins her husband in Africa. Meanwhile, the boy's chauffeur (Reed), his nanny (George) and a sinister third party (Kinski) prepare to kidnap the boy and extort a ransom from his wealthy parents. Throwing an unexpected kink into the abductors' plan, however, is the boy's recent purchase from an exotic pet shop. When he makes the mistake of opening it at home, the harmless snake he ordered is not inside but something else is - a deadly Black Mamba snake. And it gets loose in the house, of course, where it plays a nerve-wracking game of hide and seek with the occupants. Complicating the situation further is the fact that the trigger-happy chauffeur killed an investigating policeman and now the entire block is surrounded by Scotland Yard's finest. The remainder of the film zigzags between the hostage situation inside the house and the attempts of Williamson's team to gain access to the house, subdue the criminals and CATCH THAT DAMN SNAKE. First, the good news. Venom has probably the creepiest snake attack sequences of any killer reptile movie. Black Mambas are not only completely psychotic and attack anything that moves but they can also hurl themselves into the air and across rooms at a distance of ten feet or more. The first attack sequence in the movie (seen from the snake's distorted point of view) is the most repulsive, with the victim being bitten repeatedly on the face and neck. Even worse is what happens after the attack; the victim begins shaking uncontrollably, gasping for breath, before collapsing into floor-writhing seizures, complete with foaming mouth. We won't tell you which character buys it early in Venom but we will say it's an Oscar worthy death scene, if awards were given for those alone. The bad news is simply this - there aren't enough snake attacks. Despite several atmospheric shots of the Black Mamba slithering through the central air ducts of the house, up drapes and into cabinets, too much time is spent on pointless exposition like Kinski trying to broker a deal with the chief inspector. An attempt to establish a romantic attraction between Miles, as a renown herpetologist, and Williamson's stern cop, doesn't work at all. And the jeopardized boy and his rather feeble grandfather elicit more annoyance than sympathy in their situation. The only other aspect that keeps the film lively is the general animosity that exists between Reed and Kinski. Whether screaming in rage or threatening each other with bodily harm, they dominate every scene they're in and Kinski's fractured attempts to master his English dialogue are frequently hilarious. The Blue Underground DVD of Venom is a class act all the way from the visual presentation (did the film ever look this good in theatres?) in a 1.85:1/16:9 widescreen format to the extra features which include an audio commentary with director Piers Haggard. We learn that Haggard was brought in as a replacement director in the 11th hour after the cast and crew were already assembled. Although he bemoans the fact that he wasn't allowed to make changes to the script (which would have improved the narrative flow), his biggest problem was trying to keep the peace among his warring cast members, particularly Kinski and Reed, who hated each other on sight. And that's pretty obvious on screen which is one reason why Venom might be more fun to watch with Haggard's commentary track. After all, who doesn't want to hear how Reed often tried to upstage Kinski in their scenes together which usually sent Kinski into a murderous rage. For more information about Venom, visit Blue Underground. To order Venom, go to TCM Shopping. by Jeff Stafford

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1981

Released in United States 1981