Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson, Sarah Miles, Sterling Hayden
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Wea-des Moines Video Release Date: 07/29/2003 Run time: 92 minutes Rating: R
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Badly marketed on release...this is a smart thriller
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 03/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie "Venom" is not so much a scary monster movie as it is an intelligent and involving thriller. In fact the black mamba (reportedly the worlds deadliest snake) has very little screen time and serves merely as a device to move along the plot and raise the tension level of a household held hostage by ciminals and under siege by police.
The plot concerns a small band of criminals (a chauffeur played by Oliver Reed, a sexy maid played by the amazing Susan George and a slick professional killer played by Klaus Kinski) and their plot to kidnap and hold for ransom a young boy in London.
Complicating matters is the aforementioned snake. In a mixed up delivery the boy gets a black mamba instead of the tame, non-poisonous reptile he had ordered. Further complicating matters for these crooks is the botched attempt at snatching the boy that leads to them being surrounded by the local police (led by the excellent Nicol Williamson).
This is a nice DVD by Blue Underground and included is a very informative and entertaining audio commentary by director Piers Haggard. We learn some of the background to the departure of the first director (Tobe Hooper) and also some tidbits on the production (apparently Reed and Kinski hated each other and were constantly at each others throats). Haggard also makes some curious comments (including an admiration on the physical attributes of George) but overall its one of the better directors commentaries I have listened to,
This movie failed to make an audience when it was released almost a quarter-century ago, largely because of a poor marketing campaign (another subject Haggard discusses) that inaccurately tagged the movie as a scary monster movie and not the intelligent thriller that it is.
Definitely worth a spin.
Return of the Black Mamba
Xavier I. Ucar Conte | Panamá | 01/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Do not get fooled by the horrenduos DVD cover art that has nothing to do with the movie. The movie has a black mamba and the cover shows a rattlesnake!! and it is horrible!!! But the movie is one hell of a ride! Late great actors Reed and Kinski bring some very cool and violent stuff to the screen. They kidnap a rich kid and everything goes "Violently" wrong, they get trapped in a house and ask for a ransom without knowing that a deadly black mamba is loose between their feet....that's when all hell breaks loose! Venom is a very entertaining Low budget film with some great visuals, amazing score and some very chilling atmospheres. The fact that they used real black mamba snakes in the film makes the viewing even more creepier- A very entertaining film with a great and violent ending...give it a try!"
Bland but occasionally interesting
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 12/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski in the same film! What were they thinking? Kinski's mercurial temperament, of course, has attained the heights of legend. His collaborations with German filmmaker Werner Herzog in such pictures as "Fitzcarraldo," "Cobra Verde," and "Nosferatu" were brilliant examples of the power of his talent, but were also notable for the behind the scenes hostility between director and actor. Herzog even made a documentary about his stormy relationship with Kinski, "My Best Fiend," in which he acknowledged the physical and emotional violence between the two men. Incredibly, even talk of a murder plot was not out of the question in this relationship. Other directors have essentially confirmed the horrific experience of working with Klaus Kinski. Oliver Reed's bad behavior apparently knew no bounds, either. Fabio Testi, his co-star in "Revolver," described how Reed once ate broken light bulbs during a bender to prove his "superiority." The director of that same picture claimed he had to film all of Reed's scenes in the morning before too many bottles of sauce turned the performer into a lumbering brute. Nice. Nonetheless, someone sat down and thought the idea of putting these two guys in the same movie was a good idea. I hope the director received appropriate compensation for his pain.
"Venom" takes place in England and involves a young boy, his grandfather, a black mamba snake, and a ransom plot. When the wealthy parents of this child go out of town, leaving him in the charge of his grandfather Howard Anderson (Sterling Hayden), the chauffer Dave (Reed) and the maid Louise (Susan George) hatch a grand plot. If they can kidnap this kid and shunt him off to some isolated location, the parents will shell out big bucks for his return. Since the kid has a bunch of health problems, primarily a serious case of asthma, his mother and father can hardly refuse to deal with the kidnappers. To help facilitate the plan, Louise contacts a career criminal named Jacmal (Kinski) to fly into England and direct the operation. Right from the start Dave expresses misgivings about bringing this man into the picture. Dave and Louise share an intense physical relationship, and the chauffer worries that Jacmal has designs on his woman. Better he should worry about the package the kid brought home. This sickly little scion loves animals, just like his famous documentary making grandfather, and he keeps a bunch of them in cages and tanks in his room. When he went to pick up a harmless snake for his collection, he inadvertently claimed a box containing the aforementioned black mamba. Disaster is sure to follow.
Jacmal arrives at the townhouse to take the kid away at roughly the same time a police officer shows up at the house investigating a call from Dr. Marian Stowe (Sarah Miles) about the missing poisonous snake. Dave panics and empties a shotgun into the cop's chest. Before the officer expires outside the townhouse, he manages to summon more officers to the scene. Inside the house all is pandemonium as the black mamba escapes from its prison and bites Louise. Seeing Susan George turn into a bloated, graying, frothing at the mouth snakebite victim is, I must say, a treasure that all should see at least once in their life. Unfortunately, "Venom" goes downhill rapidly from this point on. The rest of the film turns into a "tense" standoff as the cops try to talk the kidnappers into letting Anderson and the kid go while those inside the house attempt to locate the black mamba. Jacmal impresses Howard Anderson into service as head snake catcher, a role seemingly suited to a man whose life consists of heading out into the dark places of the world to photograph dangerous beasties. At one point in the proceedings Jacmal manages to capture the prissy Dr. Stowe as an additional bargaining chip, sending out her finger as proof that he means business. The film wraps up in a predictable and generally unexciting way.
"Venom" is largely unexciting, slow, and forgettable. If not for the cast, this film surely would sink into total oblivion. Klaus Kinski, whose later career saw him playing aloof and ironic criminals, plays an aloof and ironic criminal here. He doesn't step into the movie until well after it starts, but his presence does help move the process over the numerous speed bumps the script insists on placing in the way. His final scene in the film is, frankly, quite amusing. Susan George never looked better, but she disappears from the scene so quickly thanks to the mamba that we barely have time to lament her passing. Oliver Reed does in "Venom" what Oliver Reed does in every film I've seen him in: rant, rave, and stomp around threatening people. The dual stresses of the police outside and the snake inside reduce his character Dave to a tousled, sweaty wreck of a man you just know will meet a painful demise at some point in the film. Then there is Sterling Hayden, the venerable figure of stage and screen who looks like he's ready to take a Valium after spending a few weeks caught in the throes of a Kinski/Reed association. Sadly, the script doesn't ask his character to do much except comfort the kid and wander around darkened rooms looking for the snake.
Thanks to Blue Underground, the DVD version of "Venom" contains several supplements. The commentary track with director Piers Haggard reveals many interesting anecdotes about working with Kinski and Reed, as well as describing the exit of original director Tobe Hooper. A trailer, stills, television and radio spots, and cast biographies round out the disc. The picture quality is excellent. A movie that could have been better with a quicker pace and more snake attacks, "Venom" is still worth watching for the recognizable faces in the cast.
I Remember Mamba...
Bindy Sue Frřnkünschtein | under the rubble | 12/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"VENOM is a tense horror / thriller starring Oliver Reed (the family chauffeur) and Klaus Kinski (a german underworld figure) as crooks who decide to kidnap the 10yo son of a wealthy woman. Unbeknownst to them, the boy has brought home the wrong snake from the pet shop. Instead of a harmless serpent, he's now in possession of a black mamba, the deadliest, most aggressive snake in the world! This is bad news, as it quickly escapes it's box and bites the maid (an accomplice) in the face. She dies in minutes, leaving the two would-be kidnappers, the kid, and his grandfather trapped in the house with their scaly friend (they can't go outside, since Reed's character shot a cop on the front stoop). Just where is that bloody snake? Who will it strike next? Can the police get these guys before they kill the hostages? Will anyone survive? Prepare to squirm! Highly recommended..."