Klaus Kinski gets a slutty maid (Susan George) and a sweaty chauffeur (Oliver Reed) to help kidnap a privileged brat. Naturally things go wrong when the chauffeur blows away a policeman and soon enough, there are swarms of cops surrounding the place. To make matters worse, the boy is a snake freak and due to a mix-up at the pet store (!!!), instead of bringing home a harmless house snake, he got a black mamba. (“The most poisonous snake in the world!”) And that sucker is on the loose!
This set-up seems pretty novel, especially watching this flick in an age where The Sci-Fi Channel has pretty much ruined Killer Snake Movies for good. I mean you got the pissy kidnappers trapped in the house. The cops are outside, the poisonous snake is inside. Sounds intense doesn’t it? As it turns out… the answer is no; not really.
What it all boils down to is that Venom suffers from a lot of boring hostage negotiation scenes and a decided lack of a body count. Don’t get me wrong, when the snake attacks, its damn good times. I particularly liked the scene where it repeatedly bit Susan George in the face. The piece de resistance though comes when the slimy sucker crawls up Oliver Reed’s pant leg. Yowsers. Unfortunately, these scenes are few and far between.
I did like the cast. Kinski plays things very low key (which is highly unusual for old Klaus) but his performance is quite effective nevertheless. Reed is also good as he chews the scenery like crazy (I liked the way he called the kid a “Cheeky little bastard!” over and over again) and George seems to be having a good time as well. The real star of the flick is the black mamba. Too bad he’s just a supporting character though.
This was a troubled production and it shows. Original director Tobe (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) Hooper was fired after two weeks of filming and all of his footage was scrapped. Piers (Blood on Satan’s Claw) Haggard was then brought in to reshoot the film. I really think that if Tobe had his way, he would’ve cranked up the suspense and made a really intense flick. I guess we’ll never know. Oh well.