Thursday, April 23, 2015

Venom - 1981

Ah, snakes. We return at last to the subject of snakes. I've only touched on snakes maybe once so far in this blog? With that movie Stanley? That sounds right to me. The real question is which creature has more movies based on it, snakes or sharks? I'd guess sharks, but snakes are up there in terms of movies being made about them.

Venom is your usual British thriller film with a snake element added in. This movie feels extremely British, usually in the "bad" way- meaning lots of dialogue. Get ready to sit there and listen listen listen as these guys go on and on about something or other. It's not like there isn't any action in this movie, cause there is, but geez, someone could've taken a whole bunch of this dialogue out of the movie and nothing would have changed.

I also haven't reviewed a movie that has starred Klaus Kinski yet. I fuckin love the Kin-ster. He's amazing, and one of my favorite actors. I find it odd that he never really "made it big" in any movies, I guess his most known roles would be the 3 films he did for Werner Herzog. But that dude was a charismatic, insane actor! He could pull off a madman like no other, helped in no small part by how he looked. Kinski is smaller than his cohort in this movie - at 5'8" he wasn't huge, but his presence is way more intimidating than any other actor I can think of.

It seems to me that stars from Europe have more of a free pass now, it's not uncommon to see International stars pop up in all sorts of projects made for Americans now. Sure, the British and the Americans have always traded actors back and forth, but there are not a lot of German, Polish, or Scandinavian actors that I see in American movies. I think it's too bad, cause a lot of them are super good. Klaus Kinski was in some American made movies, but mostly they were bad ones like Time Stalkers, Android, and Schizoid (great named movies, right?).

Which leads me to my other point, no other "good" actor that has had successful movies was in so many terrible films. Sure, you can name dozens of good actors in bad movies, but by bad in this case I'm talking super low budget, made for TV, etc. It's a complete shame that Kinski was not better embraced by film casters, cause he would've been amazing in some American movies. I hear he was offered a part in Indiana Jones, but turned it down unfortunately.

Back to Venom....Venom is like I said, a snake thriller in which a young boy accidentally brings home a black mamba. At his home, there is some sort of theft going on with Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed, I didn't quite understand what they were robbing or why, maybe I wasn't paying attention. The mamba gets loose and bites Klaus's girlfriend like 6 times. At this point they don't know it's a highly venomous snake, because the boy thought it was a innocent garden snake.

Then the girlfriend dies and someone calls the police, a policeman shows up at the house and Oliver Reed shoots the officer. Thus the police force descend upon the house with their whole "situation" going on, the criminals inside have the boy and his grandfather hostage, and there's a deadly black mamba "somewhere" loose inside the house. It's a solid reason for thrills and spills aplenty.

I didn't like the lead police officer played by Nicol Williamson. For some reason he seems incredibly bored with this hostage situation, and overly tired. When he first meets Klaus Kinski he doesn't take him seriously as a threat, and just sort of wanders off after Klaus let's him know his demands. Why? Who the fuck knows. Later, Klaus feels obligated to show he means business, and has to literally terrify the hostages at gunpoint in order to let the police know he's serious. Sure, maybe the policeman was trying to call his bluff or something...but I'm pretty sure with 2 hostages you don't just say "they'll be fine" and leave.

This movie is apparently a cult film, but I'd never heard of it. I only know this because on IMDB the keywords are "grindhouse" and "cult film". psychotronic | grindhouse | cult film | black mamba | snake| See All (39) » See, that's what they put on IMDB. I guess I could see why, though in my opinion it's purely because it features a weird crazy criminal played by Kinski. Being a fan of him, but not of this movie is hard. Sure, it gets points for Kinski, the real snake, the realistic feel to the flick, and decent pacing. But somehow it also felt overdone, suuuuper slow at times, and just not very good. Maybe that was just me.

Problems aside, it's worth seeing if you like Kinski, slow thrillers, snakes, or what I feel might be an "accurate"-ish crime drama. Also, Kinski is written well, the dialogue he has is great, and his performance is spot-on. I guess in that light I'll, give it 2.5 stars. But for some reason, I just didn't like it, still.

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