What is basically a badly done hostage thriller gains a place on this site solely on the basis of a rubbery pissed-off snake, horror alumni Klaus Kinski, Susan George and Oliver Reed, and some quite nasty deaths. Which, to be honest, is several reasons more than stuff like Horror Of Frankenstein. Venom is also an extremely entertaining 90 minutes. Unlike Horror Of Frankenstein.
Reed is "Dave", a chauffeur, George is his work colleague and lover (she appears to control him solely by dropping her knickers and showing him her front bottom), and Kinski is an international hitman the pair just happen to know (George is also busy shagging Kinski, she's a game old bird). Between them they hatch a badly conceived plan to kidnap the son of George and Reed's multi millionaire boss, which of course goes pear-shaped very quickly indeed. This is mainly due to the aforementioned snake, a black mamba that's loose in the building's enormous heating system, but it has to be said that these three are the worst kidnappers since the Chuckle Brothers' ill-fated short "Bloodbath At The House Of Chuckle" (if only...)
Anyway, Venom really does have to be seen to be believed. The entire plot hinges on the spectacularly unfeasible idea that the London Institute Of Toxicology could take delivery of an extremely dangerous black mamba through a back-street pet shop. Said shop is so ramshackle and disorganised that they think nothing of mixing up their orders and sending a 10-year-old home with what is apparently one of the most dangerous creatures on the planet.
In fact, within seconds of the kidnap starting, the snake has already bitten George in the face. After complaining that her legs have gone numb she snuffs it in spectacular foamy black-faced style, Reed reacting to this puzzlingly OTT departure by calling everyone a "bar-stard" and blowing away an innocent policeman with a handy shotgun (in typical 80s style, the blast launches the unfortunate copper half way across the street). If things had gone to bad, this of course sends them worse for the kidnappers. The full might of the Constabulary are soon nee-nawing their way to the scene of the crime, led by the "dreaded" Inspector Bulloch (Nicol Williamson, doing his best not to look like Cowley out of The Professionals and failing miserably).
"I know that policeman - he's a killer!" mutters Reed (what - in England?).
The police (who, it has to be said, are only marginally less moronic than the kidnappers) manage to hand over another hostage in the mumsy shape of Dr Marion Stowe, a snake expert. From then on it's comedy hi-jinks ahoy for the merry band of arses, as the snake keeps popping out of completely expected places before eventually biting Reed in the knackers.
The ending of the film has to be seen to be believed, featuring as it does not only the lamest resolution to a hostage crisis ever (a forgotten back door, of all things) but also an exceptionally gory death and a Godzilla-like open ending. Why on earth they never made Venom 2 is beyond me...
Last updated: February 27, 2010
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