Sunday, June 26, 2016

Venom, Snake up the Pants

Are you happy to see me, or is that a snake up your pants? Ah, the proverbial question. In the case of Oliver Reed in 1981's "Venom," it is a snake.  Not an ordinary snake....a black mamba...the most venomous and aggressive snake known to mankind.  It bites die quickly. Mix this plot device with a bunch of know-it-all criminals who have one of those fool-proof plans to net millions. Yep, a plan in which nothing can go wrong.  We all know how that goes.

Because of a chain of weird events, 10 year old Philip (Lance Holcomb) brings home a black mamba snake from the pet store instead of a harmless house snake.  Uh oh...he gets home just as Jacmel (Klaus Kinski) attempts to kidnap him.  Jacmel has help, two servants, the chauffeur (Reed) and the lovely maid Louise (Susan George).  However lovely Ms. George is, she will be turned into a gray, twisted, contorting corpse-to-be when our snake leaps into her face and bites away.  So we did get a gratuitous glimpse of her in her underwear in the first few minutes. Oh yes...these kidnappers...even though they all have European accents, they are idiots.  Their fool proof plan was obviously drawn up by ....fools.
Uh oh, Dr. Stowe (Sarah Miles), a toxicology babe, figures out the mistake and sends the cops to the boy's house to collect the snake....just as Jacmel and crew begin their perfect crime.  Now there is a hostage stand-off...bad guys and predatory snake inside and the London cops on the outside.  Our snake finds the air vents and moves through the house with ease.  Cmdr. Bullock (Nicol Williamson) has set up an iron perimeter and Jacmel behaves like a cornered wild does the snake. Have you ever seen anyone bitten by a black mamba?  I guess we all ain't pretty. If you think it's awful that pretty Ms. George was bitten in the face...well...just wait and see where Mr. Reed is bitten....a true attack against good old fashioned virility.  As our snake racks up the casualties, and Cmdr. Bullock remains unbending, the crazy...and stupid...Jacmel gets desperate.
Perhaps we can look at this film as a pre-cursor to the recent Brexit vote, with the mamba a metaphor for an independent Britain....or perhaps not. The cast of this film is terrific, also featuring Sterling Hayden as the grandfather.  How many films do you remember in which you cheered for the black mamba?  "Venom" is suspenseful and the kills are painful and tortuous.  I love films when the evil and stupid get exactly what they deserve.  Available in great quality on YouTube, see "Venom."

1 comment:

  1. Evil, stupidity, and Black Mamba... that's quite a toxic mix.