2/10
Lousy British horror film...
24 August 2017
Most British horror films are good and I've enjoyed watching them ever since I was a kid. I've spent my adult years tracking down the ones I never got to see, for whatever reason, when I was growing up. Today I finally got to see VENOM, which I'd never heard of to be honest. It could have been one of those "hidden gems" we all come across from time to time. But sadly it isn't.

The plot revolves around a mad scientist trying to create a poisonous nerve gas from spider venom. The idea is interesting and one could imagine Hammer, Amicus or Tigon making an interesting film out of the premise. But sadly, VENOM is as dull as dishwater. It's also very incoherent and it seems that every five minutes or so, the main character is chasing this girl through the woods. The problem is that there really isn't much mystery other than the motive of the mad scientist. The characters aren't interesting and nor do they do anything that holds your attention through the film. If you stick with it, you're merely doing so just so you can "cross one off" your list of British horror films to see.

Director Peter Sykes has made only two other horror films besides this one - DEMONS OF THE MIND and TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER. What makes his style different from most other directors of British horror films is that he goes out of his way to try shocking the viewer. In TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER the shocks are quite effective in my opinion. But VENOM just fails to escape its flat feeling so much that one could be forgiven for falling asleep before the shocking moments arrive. I won't explain what happens but it's tame and not as compelling viewing as it should be.

The whole production has the feeling of everyone simply going through the motions. The acting isn't awful by any means. But the whole production just feels flat and lifeless most of the time. Derek Newark, usually cast as a police inspector or detective in films and TV shows from the 1960s and 1970s, is wasted here. Gertan Klauber is better in his brief appearances in the CARRY ON films, as well as his small role in SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN. The remaining cast members are nearly all unknown to me and Simon Brent is particularly bland as the lead.

Overall, VENOM is a very boring film. It remained obscure in the UK for a long time for good reason. Recommended only for British horror completists.
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