Saturday, 23 February 2013
Makes Your Blood Run Cold
Sieges are great subjects for films, aren't they? Tense, exciting - and even more tense and exciting if you have a mix of ruthless criminals and sympathetic innocents, say an international criminal and a trigger happy drunk holding an asthmatic child, an old man and a lady doctor at gunpoint? No? Not exciting enough? Well, what if there was a Black Mamba loose on the premises? What about that? Yep, now you're interested...
'Venom' is really stupid. But as really stupid films go, it's a corker. I needn't go into how the deadliest snake in the world was given to a small child by accident, or how that very snake gets loose in a house and inadvertantly becomes a key character in a foiled kidnapping attempt, so let's just say that it happens and move on. I also won't go into why the house in question, a large Georgian terrace, was thoughtfully built 250 years ago with a massive stainless steel air conditioning system for the venomous killer to slither around in.
What I have to say, however, is that this film has one of the most eclectic and downright bloody dangerous casts ever assembled: Oliver Reed, Klaus Kinski, Nicol Williamson, Sarah Miles and Sterling Hayden - a collection of unreliable nutters, troublemakers, malcontents, free spirits, drunks and degenerates that shouldn't even be able to co-exist in the same small space in the universe. The insurance premiums must have been through the roof. Shame Brando wasn't available.
Throw in Susan George as a scheming maid who gets her kit off in minutes and then turns dying from a snake bite into something wanton and erotic and you have half a dozen reasons for watching, and that's before you even get to the quite amazing finale where an out of control Kinski grapples frantically with a rubber snake, trying to blow the synthetic serpent's head off as he himself is shot repeatedly by Police snipers. It's like something out of a Norman Wisdom film. That one with the guns and the snakes.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that Ollie Reed gets bitten on the bollocks. That's one brave hisser. Mr. Reed also suffers the indignity of a really nondescript credit, and I say that as someone who (much like everyone else) has several mates called Dave.