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Venom (1981)

Terrorists in the process of kidnapping a child get trapped in a house with an extremely deadly snake.



(based on the novel by), (screenplay by)

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International terrorists attempt to kidnap a wealthy couples child. Their plan comes unstuck when, a deadly Black Mamba sent by mistake instead of a harmless snake, escapes, and the terrorists and several hostages are trapped in the boy's London home. A tense evening is had by all as the snake creeps around the house picking off the various characters one by one. Written by R Lindsay

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The mystery of "The Birds", The danger of "Psycho", The evil of "The Omen", The terror of "Jaws", Now, the ultimate in suspense. See more »


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 January 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die schwarze Mamba  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,833,908, 31 January 1982, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Piers Haggard has said of the movie in a 2003 interview for 'Fangoria' magazine: "I took over that at very short notice. Tobe Hooper had been directing it and they had stopped for whatever reason. It hadn't been working. I did see some of his stuff and it didn't look particularly good plus he also had some sort of nervous breakdown or something. So anyway they stopped shooting and offered it to me. Unfortunately I had commitments, I had some commercials to shoot. But anyway I took it over with barely ten days of preparation - which shows. It doesn't become my picture, it's a bit inbetween . . . [actor Oliver Reed was] scary at first because he was always testing you all the time. Difficult but not as difficult as Klaus Kinski. Because Oliver [Reed] actually had a sense of humour. I was rather fine of him; he could be tricky but he was quite warm really. He just played games and was rather macho and so on. Klaus Kinski was very cold. The main problem with the film was that the two didn't get on and they fought like cats. Kinski of course is a fabulous film actor and he's good in the part, the part suits him very well. They were both well cast but it was a very unhappy film. I think Klaus was the problem but then Oliver spent half the movie just trying to rub him up, pulling his leg all the way. There were shouting matches because Oliver just wouldn't let up. None of this is about art. All the things that you're trying to concentrate on tend to slip. So it was not a happy period". See more »


When Dr. Stowe is told to get up by Kinski, she anticipates the terrorist's action by grabbing the scarf before Kinski wraps her hand in it. See more »

Crazy Credits

The Producers wish to extend their thanks to David Ball, overseer of reptiles at London Zoo, without whose skill and courage in the handling of the deadly Black Mamba, this film could not have been made. See more »


Referenced in Adjust Your Tracking (2013) See more »


Time Out
Music by Stanley Myers
De Wolfe Music Ltd
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User Reviews

Caught between a rock and a hard place
9 May 2006 | by See all my reviews

While, the lady of the house is heading to Rome to be with her husband, her asthmatic son stays home with his housekeeper and grandfather. We learn that the housekeeper and the family driver have organised a plan along with a Russian criminal to kidnap the boy, but things go awry. The boy's harmless pet snake is accidentally switched at the pet shop with a vicious black mamba. The snake actually escapes during the kidnap attempt and not to soon the police arrive to surround the house after one of their officers was shot dead by the kidnappers. Now the group are trapped inside with the deadly reptile on the loose, while the police force are waiting on the outside.

At best "Venom" is an mediocre siege movie with an ambitiously, venomous twist. Though, what really gave the film the added hoick was that there was an excellent A-cast basically giving their all in a simple minded B-grade feature. With the likes of Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed and Nicol Williamson. I found it hard not to be entertained even if not much wasn't going on. Those three actors equally hold such a great screen presence. But with a title like "Venom" you'll be expecting some glorious snake action and it does deliver, but not as frequently as it should. When it did finally pop up it would rack up the excitement levels with some memorable (if sometimes slightly risible) attacks and a gratuitously, over-exaggerated (but fitting) climax. But it's Klaus Kinski's coldly, stern performance as the international terrorist Jacques that's far more unsettling. Those glazed eyes were just piercing! Oliver Reed on the other hand hams it up as the worrying family driver and Nicol Williamson is cracking as the officer in charge Cmdr. William Bulloch. The support roles by the likes of Sterling Hayden, Susan George and Sarah Miles are just as sensationally good. But it was the rapport clash of egos between Kinski and Reed that kept me glued, well other than the nasty surprises that awaited them. Director Piers Haggard, who took over from Tobe Hooper did a fine job for such a sudden inclusion. He's able to moderately construct some tight suspense from the bleak, claustrophobic confinement even if the story's structure follows a predictable pattern and sometimes the tautness falls away in patches with the constant cutting between the cops, kidnappers and snake. But what was unpredictable was the spontaneously, furious snake attacks that were chucked in for good measure. You just didn't know where the snake would show up next and when it does it's done so in an surprisingly, effective manner. Implemented into the picture are some creative camera shots, such as snake vision and the forceful score basically telegraphs the action and suspense impeccably well with its energy. Maybe the production does have that TV feel about it, but that doesn't hurt the film. The two genres behind this story (siege and creature on loose) might not be nothing new, but I found the uneven mixture of the two an entertaining experiment. Maybe it's not completely successful in combining them, but simply it's a decent time-waster.

A modest plot is brought to life by a well ensemble cast, a deadly snake and some tautly controlled direction. It's nothing totally special, but its better than average compared with most films of its ilk.

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