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This is a much maligned film. Given the fine acting and the really Hitchcockian development and story line, this thing delivers in a big way. I don't want to give away the story line, but let's just say that while snakes play a part in it, this is not a shlocky horror film. In fact, the storyline doesn't revolve around snakes; they're more of a plot device. This is a thriller of the best caliber. The British actors are some of the finest ever cranked out and the claustrophobic atmosphere seems to drive you even crazier. If you are afraid of snakes, then you'll be gut wrenchingly terrified (I was). If you aren't, then you'll still be glued to your seat. Watch it and if you dare, do it with the lights off!
An exciting story with lots of suspenseful moments. Kinsky makes a great villain. Sterling Hayden did seem a bit under the weather, but Nicol Williamson gave an outstanding performance as a very different kind of policeman. I think the reviewers have been far too hard on this thriller. It sure kept me on the edge of my seat.
"Venom" is an enjoyable thriller directed by Piers Haggard("Satan's Skin").A deadly black mamba snake threatens the denizens of an elegant townhouse.As long as the slithering creature is on the loose,no one is safe...The film has its share of surprises-some scenes are actually pretty nerve-wracking.The acting is exceptionally good with pretty familiar cast(Klaus Kinski,Susan George,Nicol Williamson,Oliver Reed)to boost.Highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, this movie isn't THAT bad. But let's get real here - it ain't
that good either. But I'll watch anything with the Late Great Klaus
Kinski in it simply because chances are good that, even if the film
sucks, he'll make it fun to watch somehow. He doesn't disappoint here.
The plot is pretty straightforward. The Nanny of a young British boy is plotting to kidnap him for ransom. Her partners in crime include the bleary-eyed Oliver Reed and Kinski as the Big Bad Guy In Charge. There's only one problem: on the day that the kidnapping is supposed to take place, the spoiled, asthmatic little brat slips away from his nanny and goes to the pet store with grandpa to pick up his new pet snake. Oops! The pet store accidentally boxes up and hands over a black mamba, one of the most bad-tempered and deadly snakes in the world. Geez, did no one check the label on the crate first? The snake goes home, gets loose and snaps its ugly mouth closed on nanny Susan George first, who dies a horrible, foamy, convulsing death. After that, the snake is loose in the air vents of the house, and the kid, the grandpa and the kidnappers are trapped inside.
There's some good snake POV shots, the best of which comes when Oliver Reed opens the door of a liquor cabinet (ooh, big surprise there) and the nasty serpent lunges out at his face. The most tense and creepy scene comes as the mamba slowly slides up Reeds pant leg, slithering inexorably up towards his crotch...but I won't ruin the rest for you. Kinski hams it up like he always does, smiling smugly and bugging his freaky eyes out at anyone who irritates him. His BIG FINAL SCENE scene is ridiculously overlong and should have earned Kinski an Oscar for Best Scene Chewing Moment.
It moves a little slow sometimes, but the cool looking mamba makes up for that. There are some genuine jump moments and the cast is actually really good: Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Susan George and Sterling Hayden (as the grandfather) all turn in great big huge performances which seem almost too big for a little film like this...and I mean that in a good way. The plot is almost so ludicrous that it somehow manages to become totally believable. Fans of Kinski will want to catch this one: Kinski is at his most arrogant here, and fans of his smarmy, ego-ridden brilliance will love every minute of it. 7 out of 10 stars.
VENOM (1982) ***½ Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson, Sarah Miles,
Susan George. Even though this film is called "Venom" and features a snake,
this is no "creature feature." Two English domestics (Reed and George),
along with an international criminal (Kinski), conspire to kidnap their
wealthy employers' ten-year-old son. The plan goes awry after the boy
mistakenly receives a highly aggressive, super-poisonous black mamba
(originally intended for a research facility), which kills one of the
conspirators and transforms the attempted kidnapping into a tense armed
standoff. A box-office flop in its day, American audiences were probably
turned off by the film's stodgy English production values and thanks to a
misleading advertising campaign probably felt duped once they realized it
wasn't a killer snake movie. Still, a strong script and Kinski and Reed's
explosive performances make this a powerful thriller. Highly recommended.
A trio of kidnappers headed by Klaus Kinski plan to snatch a young boy,
things go awry & through a series of unforeseen events they're hold up in
the house with a deadly venomous snake. Pretty taunt & lean thriller. Most
of the actors do a fine job. One of the better killer snake movies out
My Grade: B-
DVD Extras: Director's commentary; Theatrical trailer; 4 TV spots; poster & stills gallery; Bios for Klaus Kinski & Oliver Reed
I believe Venom was possibly the first ever 15 certificate VHS I bought for myself, many moons ago now and I always remembered thinking it was OK, a reasonably solid if unremarkable film. I dug out my copy last night to give it another ago and it made quite a bit more of an impression, perhaps due to my considerably increased appreciation of cinema. Though undoubtedly flawed, this film has a fine cast, some striking moments and a memorably daffy plot. The story sees kidnappers attempting to ransom a spoiled young boy, but getting into somewhat of a fix when he sneaks out and gets the snake he has ordered from a pet shop. Unfortunately the harmless African house snake has been swapped with a deadly black mamba and things go a bit pear shaped. Clearly this is all absurd, but the fun comes from seeing the entire cast playing with gusto, committed to the film despite its silliness. Though I never felt much sympathy for the boy, played by Lance Holcombe, he is at least marginally less irritating than he might have been and does not get in the way of the rest of the cast. As his bold, safari expert grandfather Sterling Hayden performs with a sort of shrewdly heroic style. Susan George is typically cold yet alluring as the treacherous maid and Sarah Miles is pleasantly eccentric as a snake expert. Best of all though, Oliver Reed plays on edge throughout, scowling and brutish, whilst Klaus Kinski is a whole lot of fun to watch as the criminal mastermind, arrogant, controlling and reigning over every scene he's in. Plus, to stop things getting to overwrought, Nicol Williamson does good work as the policeman in charge of the whole mess, giving a touch of deadpan humour mixed with a very British style of authority and commitment to the job. Most of the fun of the film comes from watching all these acting turns, steaming along and colliding with each other, producing many sparks and at the least providing interest. The snake sadly has less to do than expected, though it does provide some suitably nerve wracking attacks. The first one is a bit hokey, but generally the use of a real snake at times means that the snake based scenes do come across very nicely. There's no gore, but there are a few good shocks and decent overall tension. In all, though no great classic, this is a wacky and entertaining affair that should be fun for fans of the cast or of eccentric thrillers in general. It perhaps could have been tauter and I suspect had Tobe Hooper stayed on to make this instead of being replaced by Piers Haggard the film might have been edgier with a bit more nasty satisfaction, but its still a good ride while it lasts.
It s a pity that Tobe Hooper stopped working on the film. The beginning
is perfect. So rare to see two euro horror stars in the same movie as
Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed. Good English characters,very true
impulsive, nervous. It looks like Hammer in some places, but it is bit
long. We enjoyed the ending where Klaus is attacked by venom and trying
to strike back in agony. Klaus played really cool in this movies, and
he actually does every time We see him in horrors. The screenplay has
some real discoveries , but That should have been Tobe Hooper to work
them out. He always makes even cheap films look stylish and suspensive.
Good example of euro-horror attempts.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a stylish British-made thriller about an attempted kidnapping thwarted by a deadly snake. A young American boy, Philip Hopkins(LANCE HOLCOMB), is left in the care of his grandfather Howard Anderson(STERLING HAYDEN) at the family's London townhouse when his mother goes to Rome on business. The maid Louise(SUSAN GEORGE) and the chauffeur Dave(OLIVER REED) have conspired with one Jacques Muller aka Jacmel(KLAUS KINSKI), an international master criminal, to kidnap young Philip and hold him for ransom. The plan goes awry when Philip breaks away from Louise and hops a cab to a local pet shop to pick up the newest addition to his ever-growing menagerie- a harmless African house snake. What Philip doesn't know is that a mix-up occurred and what he's taking home with him in that wooden box is far from harmless. The London Institute of Toxicology inadvertently winds up with the house snake and Philip gets what the Institute had ordered- and it isn't pretty. It's a Black Mamba, one of the most lethal and dangerous snakes on Earth. It's the snake with the most macabre reputation on the African continent. It strikes hard and fast and carries an extremely toxic venom that can kill an adult within a few minutes. When a doctor at the Toxicology Institute(SARAH MILES) comes to realize the horrific implications of what occurred, she calls the police to try and track down the recipient of the mamba before the box is opened. Alas, it is too late. The maid opens the box, gets struck three times in rapid succession and dies a very ugly death in less than six minutes. An investigating police sergeant arrives at the townhouse and is shotgunned to death by Dave the Chauffeur, whose hair-trigger temper seems to match that of the mamba's. An armed standoff ensues, with the police surrounding the townhouse and the kidnappers(minus one) inside with their hostages. Oh,yes- the snake is now also loose and this plot element serves to ratchet up the tension and suspense considerably. A battle of wits ensues between Jacmel and the police commander in charge(NICOL WILLIAMSON) as each tries to outfox the other. In addition to a $100,000 mechanical mamba used for those scenes where the snake gets up close and personal with the cast, a real Black Mamba was also used in the filming of certain scenes for purposes of authenticity. David Ball, the reptile curator at the London Zoo, was hired by the producers for this purpose. The snake took direction very well- rearing, hissing and adopting threat postures on cue. This film is highly underrated. It has all the classic elements of a good suspense thriller along with an excellent cast of distinguished actors. The photography and editing are superb and convey a sense of claustrophobic terror. The sequence where Louise the maid gets bitten is one of the most nerve-wracking and disturbing things I've ever seen on film. In this, the producers did their homework well. This is how you die when you're bitten by a Black Mamba. Once you see it, you'll never forget it. If you want nail-biting, edge of your seat suspense, check out this minor gem. I give it a 10 out of 10. A word of caution, though- don't see it alone and don't turn out the lights and try to go to sleep afterward- at least not before checking under the bed.
Engaging tale of a band of thieves whose plan to take a child and his
grandfather hostage in their plush London townhouse, to extort money
from the child's wealthy mother, is short-circuited by a rampaging
Black Mamba that's been mistakenly brought into the mix. Intriguing to
see how the plan unravels as the inimitable Klaus Kinski and his
accomplices fall prey one by one to the elusive predator, its venom
more deadly than any other species of snake. Cornered by the law on the
outside, and the aggressive asp from within, they must adapt and
improvise to affect a miraculous escape, no longer concerned with
money, but basic survival.
Taut little suspense-thriller enabled by a strong cast, decent dialogue and well-paced direction. Kinski as the main protagonist is chilling, and he's well supported in Oliver Reed as the boozy henchman and Susan George as an unlikely (and unlucky) accomplice. Also noteworthy is Nicol Williamson as the dedicated police inspector who finds himself at the helm of a tense stand-off between the bandits, their captures and the unpredictable rogue reptile. While Sterling Hayden's characterisation of an aging ex game hunter is somewhat vague and incidental to the plot, it does add another dimension to the proceedings that stirs the curiosity and colours the complexity of an otherwise straightforward yarn.
Effective use of sets, lighting, music and tight editing nicely complement the occasional sadistic and surprisingly graphic violence. The snake itself, sometimes portrayed by a replica, is also well staged and looks convincingly hostile. Understated and somewhat obscure considering its impressive credits (Tobe Hooper was also linked with the film early on, but parted ways with the project), "Venom" is a compelling hostage thriller, cleverly bolstered by an unorthodox twist, and is well worth the time.
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