Venom (1981) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

VENOM 1981

Director: Piers Haggard
Writers: Alan Scholefield (based on the novel by), Robert Carrington (screenplay by)
Stars: Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson

Plot:  Terrorists in the process of kidnapping a child get trapped in a house with an extremely deadly snake.
Running Time: 92 Minutes
IMDB Score: 6.0

Why I Watched it: I was scrolling through horror titles on Amazon Prime, reading about it I realise I hadn’t seen it and the cast just made me have to see now.

Thoughts: I guess first off this is now going to get buried cause there’s a new film called Venom coming out starring one Tom Hardy and I just get this feeling it will be big.
I love trying to find older films, or lesser films i haven’t seen, not to brag but man I’ve seen a lot of films and it hits me when I’m trying to find something to watch, I’m at a time of my life that I don’t want to keep rewatching stuff I want stuff I haven’t seen. So I came across Venom, by the by the Amazon Prime horror titles are pretty crappy, at least in Canada. Just check out this cast Kinski, Reed, Williamson and Hayden are well renown “characters” so just being on the set would have been wonderful. In the plot they call the men “Terrorists” not really more like Kidnappers.

What I liked: I went in thinking this would be a campy killer snake movie and I was dead wrong, this is played completely straight, this plays like a hostage situation but throw in a snake that can kill you into the mix.
The set up is done pretty well, we meet the characters and the plot is set in motion, Kinski and Reed are the bad guys, not spoilers it’s set up right from the start, not a shock though. Hayden plays the kid’s grandfather and Williamson is the hostage negotiator. Now the thing I liked about this film is that it goes in directions I didn’t think it would go it, and really the snake plays a small part, really the snake is in the background but it does ad tension.
The performances are pretty good across the board, I really liked Williamson, he plays this kind of “off” character but he’s smart and very different but he gives shades and layers just on quirk alone and the way he speaks.  Reed is always fun and him and Kinski make an odd pair but man do they play off each other well both men are huge presences.  Now the snake is a major plot point and it’s the very famous Black Mamba, now it’s a plot point you didn’t need but oddly it does add that wild card factor to the film, it’s almost like a three way dance, the police, the kidnappers and the snake all against each other.  I also liked Sarah Miles as a snake expert, she adds class to the whole thing.  Also a shout out to Susan George, she’s not in it much but I forgot how good she was.
The plot and tone do pretty well and I will say they throw a couple of twists in that I didn’t see coming and were pretty clever.

What I didn’t like: The set up of how the snake got where it did is a tad silly, a lot of dumb things had to happen just to have a snake in this film. The one thing character wise I didn’t like was Reed’s character he flip flopped too much, he was scared, then crazy, he took over, he was just a henchman, he was scattered.  I take it he was suppose to be a secondary guy to Kinski but Oliver Reed played second fiddle to no man and he had to out macho Kinski and they do go toe to toe but it felt forced, sadly in the end Reed was miscast.

Final Thoughts: I really liked this, it was one of those older movies that surprise you cause you kind of wrote it off but it turns out it wasn’t what you thought it was. Now if you like British horror/thrillers and you like any part of this cast give it a watch, it’s different but well done.

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