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VILLAINOUS OLIVER REED AND KLAUS KINSKI BITING INTO 'VENOM'

Oliver Reed in VENOM Year: 1981 Rating: ****

A sickly British kid and his grandfather are overtaken by the help in their family estate: Earlier that day, the boy picked up the wrong snake from a pet shop: And now a deadly Black Mamba slithers around, mostly inside the vents for a snake-eye viewpoint...

A clever enough premise for a group of otherwise shady and hardened DESPERATE HOURS-inspired characters to be paranoid and terrified while cloistered in a doubly-dangerous setting...

Oliver Reed in VENOM

But it's a kidnapping/hostage story first and foremost.. more crime-thriller than creature-feature with Nicol Williamson as the tough yet patiently smooth police captain outside, as if an episode of his own TV cop series...

That somewhat hinders the intensity lurking within the premises where wild card Oliver Reed, an edgy, violent, initially reluctant chauffeur, overtakes Sterling Hayden, a hunting legend grandfather/mentor to his vulnerable grandson... 

Klaus Kinski in VENOM

With suspenseful direction by Brit local Piers Haggard, whose unpredictable cast of actor's actors (some notoriously difficult) outclass the basic crime story at-hand, who deserved something either dramatically superior to fit into or campier to rise above...

As the ultimately misguided caper's led by Klaus Kinski, nearly as formidable as the serpent yet slowburn cool, calculating, coldly professional... then there's RYAN'S DAUGHTER starlet Sarah Miles as a snake-poison scientist, and our token ingenue...

Oliver Reed and Susan George in VENOM

Yet starting off with a PSYCHO Janet "Dies Sooner Than Expected" Leigh character with STRAW DOGS Susan George as the seemingly friendly nanny, violently suffering a Mamba bite that takes a capable scream-queen to pull off...

And, overall, the combination of such legendary antagonists as Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski would have ignited sparks without any snake at all... so in this case, the creature is a bonus to the more devious and desperate human antagonists.

Black Mamba of VENOM
Black Mamba of VENOM

Oliver Reed in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM
Sterling Hayden and Cornelia Sharpe in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM with Susan George
Oliver Reed in VENOM with Susan George
Klaus Kinski in VENOM with Susan George

Oliver Reed as Dave the Driver in VENOM
The Black Mamba in VENOM
Sarah Miles and Katherine Wilkinson in VENOM
Sarah Miles and Katherine Wilkinson in VENOM
Katherine Wilkinson in VENOM
Sarah Miles and Katherine Wilkinson in VENOM
Sarah Miles and Katherine Wilkinson in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM with Klaus Kinski
Oliver Reed in VENOM
Lance Holcomb and Susan George in VENOM
Lance Holcomb and Susan George in VENOM
Local Flying Squad Nicol Williamson in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM
Black Mamba in VENOM
Black Mamba in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM
Oliver Reed in VENOM with Susan George
Oliver Reed in VENOM with Klaus Kinski
Nicol Williamson in VENOM with Klaus Kinski

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