Tuesday, December 22, 2015

VENOM (1982)

Take a child, a psycho, a terrorist and a maid, and trap ‘em in a house with the police outside, and you have a fairly routine thriller. But throw a Black Mamba in the mix as an uninvited houseguest and you’ve got something. Now, cast Oliver Reed as the psycho and the great Klaus Kinski as the terrorist and you’ve reached levels of greatness not even God Himself could attain.
     That’s right, I’m talking about Piers Hagaard’s 1982 flick Venom.
     Philip Hopkins (Lance Holcomb) is the son of a wealthy couple and collects animals. He is sent to the local pet shop by his grandfather Howard (Sterling Hayden) to pick up a harmless snake to add to his collection. While this goes on we learn that Louise (Susan George, around long enough to get a credit), David (Oliver Reed) and Jacques (Klaus Kinski) plan to kidnap the boy and hold him for ransom. Upon returning home Philip insists that he has to get the snake into its vivarium before leaving with the trio. Upon opening the box he discovers that a Black Mamba is inside—which, of course, escapes after giving Louise a paycheck to buy the farm. Throw a murdered cop into the picture (after an awesome panning shot) and now you have a siege. The cops gather outside while the snake slithers inside. Will anyone make it out of this situation alive?
     Man, where to start with this flick? Fuck it, let’s go with the pace first. The film
moves along briskly, maintaining its No Bullshit attitude throughout. There is not one moment of filler, only the essentials. I checked the remaining runtime at one point and nearly shat myself when I’d seen that nearly an hour had passed. Filmmakers take note.
     Story-wise, the film would be a pretty routine hostage flick were it not for the inclusion of the Black Mamba, which is really the icing on the cake here. Filmmakers, take note again: you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just add a little something to give your movie some spice.
     But where this movie really shines is in the acting and characters, all of which are good and a joy to watch. Sure, you’re not gonna get complex characters here, but what you do get are characters who are defined and different from one another enough to be likeable or not. The pinnacle here is, of course, Klaus Kinski who outshines the others and here definitely here not just to collect a paycheck. He portrays Jacques Müller in what has to be one of the suavest roles of his career. Seriously, the dude breathes Million Dollar Pimpery. Just look at that fuckin’ suit! And that hair is what Donald Trump’s Roadkill Toupee aspires to. With that getup, I can almost guarantee Kinski was getting laid daily on the set.
     And, of course, we cannot forget the late, great Oliver Reed, looking great with his porn ‘tache as he drinks alcohol—big fuckin’ surprise—and screams at everyone and everything. And—oh!—Susan George. Only around for a short bit, but we get a great scene of her in black lace panties and undies. This’ll certainly leave some icing in your pants.
     But great props must go to David Ball, the man with the iron balls who handled the Black Mamba. As mentioned in the film just before the closing credits, without him this film could never have been made. Fuckin’ kudos to you sir! Without you, I wouldn’t be here raving like a loon about this totally awesome flick.
     And—bonus!—the film manages to conjure up some legitimate suspense even if you already know what’s coming, which is a testament to the talent of Hagaard. No matter how many times I watch this flick I’m always on edge when Howard is searching one of the rooms for the snake, or during the film’s climax which I always re-watch.
     Yes, Venom is the perfect antidote to lackluster crap—especially for me seeing as I viewed two duds beforehand. Watch it, watch it, watch it! And watch it again! Essential viewing, especially for the climax in which Kinski goes up against a rubber snake! Quintessential cinematic viewing!
     Did I already tell you to watch it?
So this is what a Black Mamba-induced orgasm looks like!

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