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1 rating: -3.0
A movie directed by Piers Haggard

When an international terrorist (Kinski) hatches a plot to kidnap a wealthy couple's child along with the family's maid (George) and chauffeur (Reed), it seems like the perfect crime. Unfortunately, it goes terribly wrong when, during the kidnapping, … see full wiki

Director: Piers Haggard
Release Date: 1982
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Venom

Venom - 1982

  • Jul 17, 2008
Pros: no, no, no, no, no

Cons: yes, it was

The Bottom Line: "Do you like how it feels to be bit
In the neck by a snake that kills"
~ Papa Roach

Been a while since I have tread on horror waters and apparently there is a reason for that. When you are dealt a tagline like: “The mystery of ‘The Birds’, the danger of ‘Psycho’, the evil of ‘The Omen’, the terror of ‘Jaws’ … Now the ultimate in suspense”[1], you think there is hope. Well, according to director Piers Haggard, who replaced Tobe Hooper on the film, he thought the nicest person on the set was the Black Mamba.[2]

Took quite a set for the promo folks to hang that tagline on this gem, maybe they forgot to watch it before they made that decision.

When you are served up a title like Venom, you may mistakenly believe you are going to be knee deep in slithering creatures. There are slithering creatures in this but they are of the two-legged sort. Don’t get me wrong, there is a snake, a Black Mamba - or at least the equivalent of one. You would assume they CGI’d the thing or used some other means of interjecting the snake into its two or three screen shots. Unlike bears, dogs, lions, things of that sort, I’m not sure you can train a snake. Maybe you can but I’m not applying for the position.

Personally I’m not afraid of snakes as a whole, it is their sudden appearance that startles me. Other than that, the thing can live however it wishes.

With Venom we have a core of central characters. Little rich boy, asthmatic, is smothered by attention from his parents when around and has a nanny/maid to watch after him when they aren’t. His grandfather is staying with them for a while, after a heart problem. Grandfather is a well known safari dude or big game hunter or something of the sort. The boy has a soft spot for living creatures, despite his asthmatic condition, and his room is full of soft, furry things as well as a few reptiles.

Mama is going out of town to meet daddy, who never makes an appearance in the movie. She leaves her son in the care of Grandpa and nanny person. Little does she know son and Grandpa have conspired for him to make a quick trip across town to pick up a new snake for his collection. Kids like 8-9 years old and Grandpa is going to let him make this trip alone via Taxi.

Nanny throws a blue-Jesus fit when the kid takes off. Not because she is afraid for him or even afraid for her job. Hell no. It is because she has conspired with the chauffeur and a mysterious other person to kidnap the little dickens. In exchange for their cooperation, she is offering up her young, nubile flesh for their taking. Dang, isn’t she just nice?

So off to the snake store goes the kid, while the kidnapping situation is spiraling out of control. Turns out the snake store owner had an emergency and someone else is tending the store when the kid arrives. There are two boxes, snakes inside, and the kid gets the wrong dang box. We find that out after we pan to the “Laboratory for Toxicology” and hear the announcement ‘This isn’t a Black Mamba, this is an ordinary house snake’. Oh dear.

Meanwhile, back at the house, after an extremely long taxi ride, the kid arrives home with the BM. Unknowingly, of course. However, the LFT has contacted the police and told them the situation and they promptly dispatch an officer to the kid’s house to warn them. Apparently it never occurred to try the telephone … hello???

Snake bites the nanny, snake gets loose. Policeman gets shot. Oh, bloody hell, it just turns into one boring fiasco after another. You can thank Robert Carrington for the screenplay which he adapted from Alan Scholefield’s novel.

It wasn’t like they didn’t have some known talent in the film. Klaus Kinski played the mysterious stranger, kidnapping dude. One might note that Mr. Kinski took this job over another film he was offered by the name of Raiders Of The Lost Ark.[3] It was a money issue; this one offered him more. Seems to me I’ve heard of that Raiders thing. I hope at least once, since then, Kinski thought ‘what the hell was I thinking?’. But who knows.

Oliver Reed was the chauffeur, Susan George the nanny, Sarah Miles the doctor lady from the toxicology lab, Sterling Hayden was grandpa and Nicol Williamson was the police commissioner or whatever they call them in England. So, certainly, there was known talent available. What was lacking, beyond the script, was the acting. I have seen more excitement separating crayons in a crayon box than I saw on that screen, and a hell of a lot more suspense.

So if you are looking for a snake movie, keep the nail file out and finish your manicure cause you ain’t gonna find it here folks.


[1] [2] [3] from IMDB


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