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Venom is a 1981 British thriller directed by Piers Haggard (Blood on Satan’s Claw; television series Four-Mass, 1979), based on a screenplay by Richard Carrington (Mind Over Murder; Wait Until Dark), filmed from the novel of the same name by Alan Scholfield. Produced by Martin Bregman (The Bone Collector; Sea of Love; Scarface; Dog Day).

Movie stars: Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu de Vampire; Schizoid; Crawlspace), Oliver Reed (Blue Blood; Broad; Spasms), Nicol Williamson, Sterling Hayden (Deadly Strangers), Sarah Miles, Cornelia Sharpe (Peter Pride Reincarnation; Open Season), Lance Holcomb and Susan George (Wizards; Death of Screaming Marianne).


International criminal Jacmel (Klaus Kinski) involves housekeeper Ruth Hopkins (Susan George) and the driver (Oliver Reed) in a plot to kidnap their ten-year-old son Philip (Lance Holcomb), who suffers from asthma, for ransom.

Meanwhile, Philip had just brought a hose from a local importer, unaware that his new pet had accidentally been switched with a deadly black Mamba destined for the toxicology laboratory. The lab reports a mix-up, and a police officer drives to Hopkins’ house, only to be shot by an arrogant driver.

A London mansion is surrounded by policemen catching criminals, a child and his grandfather and Mamba who is now free in the ventilation system….


Toby Hooper was originally supposed to direct, but he dropped out because of creative differences. At a party at Elaine’s restaurant in Manhattan to celebrate the release of the film, Klaus Kinski boasted about how he and the other members of the film crew had worked together for a few weeks to replace Hooper. Director Piers Haggard says none of Tob Hooper’s original shots are still in the film.

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Of course, no actor, or even a group of actors, can save a bad movie. Well, Venom is a long way from that; in fact, it’s pretty good…. If something happens all the time, I can guarantee you that you will never lose interest in watching Venom; its 92 minutes seem to run out. 2,500 Film Contest

This film will surely delight anyone who enjoys an intense drive full of kidnappings, temptations, confrontations and a deadly creature whose bite will leave you rotting in agony […] Moreover, it’s simply fantastic to see Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski confront each other! Dependence on horror films

What, another stupid snake killer movie? Yeah, that’s it. Poison happens to be one of my favorite pleasures. It is one of those special films where the stories that surround it and the different aspects that are part of it are just as important and almost as entertaining as the film itself. And you call yourself a scientist!

Poison had the potential to be a classic garbage film, but the end result didn’t really work. But it’s fun, and this cast makes it a must-see for fans of overheated drama. DVD talk

Produced at a time when extreme visual style and graphic gore dominated the horror movement, Venom seems completely out of place. There are virtually no nasty effects, and the plot is shot with such a 1950s sensitivity that it really seems more dated than it actually is. The film isn’t about gore, it’s about intrigue, but with a crime story as boring as Poison, it doesn’t start. The digital horror.

This film… has a lot of potential, but it’s not quite right. The plot is simple, but it works.  The problem is that they can’t do much, which leads to a lot of long breaks and interruptions. In addition, the constant overlap between snake, police, criminals and hostages is a bit thin.  It’s not awful, it’s just a little distracting. Mondo Bizarro.

…this Black Mamba thriller is one of the strangest of its time. Despite the fact that this adaptation of the Alan Scholfield stew was virtually buried when it came out (in a year full of excellent genre recipes), it fits pretty well into the solid, unobtrusive genre mix eaten away by some of the biggest psychotic hams in the industry. Mondo Digital

The whole gang put in a strong performance, including Williamson as police commander and Miles as the genius toxicologist held hostage. Best Scene: fangirl’s relentless attack on George’s maid and her last moments, painful and brutal (via the very cool POV Snake). Very underestimated in general. Horror trap

Depressingly archaic in his reliance on the British B-peak of cheap thrills and worn-out dramatic clichés, and devoid of any self-parodic saving grace, Poison casts a box-office spell […] There is more (by the trick of the stars leaving, that is), but never enough to arouse interest or excitement in the siege rites of static films. Time Out (London)

The snake that shows moral discernment leaves good people alone (even if it gives them a real shiver) and only bites the wicked. Wide-angle shots depicting the appearance of the hose are projected into the drum to create frightening effects. The film has received one of the best awards in the British film industry for a long time; without the snake it could have been a tense thriller. tv guide

It all boils down to Poison, which suffers from numerous boring scenes of hostage negotiations and a blatant lack of bodies. Don’t get me wrong, if the snake attacks, it’s a hell of a good time. I especially found the scene where he bit Susan George in the face several times. However, part of the resistance manifests itself when the slimy sucker crawls up Oliver Reed’s trouser leg. Vacuum for video


Commander William Bullock: Can you tell me how dangerous, how very dangerous?
Dr. Marion Stowe: The most dangerous snake in the world, so dangerous.

Blu-ray output:

The 31st. In May 2016 Blue Underground released Poison as a Blu-ray + DVD combo with the following bonuses:

Recently transferred to 2K High Definition of negative
Audio commentary with director Pierce Haggard
Bioscope trailer
Teaser trailer
TV locations
Poster and gallery again
Booklet with new Fangoria editor Michael Gingold

Buy it: Amazon.com

The actors and characters:

Klaus Kinski… Jacmel-Oliver Reed… Dave Nichol Williamson… Commander William Bullock-Sarah Miles… Dr. Marion StoweSterling Hayden… Howard Anderson-Cornelia Sharp… Ruth HopkinsLance Holcomb… Philip HopkinsSusan George… … Louise AndrewsMike Gwilym… Detective Dan Spencer-Paul Williamson… Detective Sergeant Glaser-Michael Gough… David BallHugh Lloyd… Taxi driver Rita Webb… Ms. Life Hall-Edward Hardwick… Lord DunningJohn Forbes… Robertson… Sergeant NashJan Brimble… Officer at the Peter Porteous police station… HodgesMaurice Colborne… Sampson-Nicholas Donnelly… Police Commissioner Cyril Conway… The man in 17 Sally Lahey… The woman with number 17. David Stern… Driver Charles Cork… Older Howard Bell… Agent Alan Ford… PetersNorman Mann… WilliamsTony Meyer… Martin Michael Watkins… RogersGerard Ryder… SmithMoti Makan… Mr. Murkerjee-Katherine Wilkinson… Susan StoweEric Richard… Aviation clerk Arnold Diamond… The butlerPat Gorman… Officer Eric Kent… Employee (not credited)

Shooting locations:

London, England
EMI Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England

Recording data :

27. September 1980 to 20 September. December 1980

Production :

In an interview with Fangoria magazine in 2003, director Piers Haggard said that I took it on. Tobe Hooper realized it and they stopped for some reason. It didn’t work. I saw some of his stuff and it didn’t look good, plus he had some kind of nervous breakdown or something. Anyway, they stopped shooting and offered me this. Unfortunately, I had an engagement, so I had to make some commercials. Anyway, I took it with only ten days of preparation – and you can see that. It won’t be my picture, it’s a bit between …….

At first it was scary because he was testing you all the time. Difficult, but not as difficult as Klaus Kinski. Because Oliver [Reed] had a sense of humor. I was pretty good with him, he could be tricky, but he was actually pretty hot. He was just playing games and he was macho and stuff. Klaus Kinski was very cold. The biggest problem with the film was that they didn’t get along and fought like cats. Kinski is certainly a fantastic film actor and he is good at it, the role fits him very well. Both were played well, but it was a very unfortunate film. I think Klaus was the problem, but then Oliver spent half the film rubbing and teasing him. There were screaming matches because Oliver wouldn’t give up. This has nothing to do with art. All the things you try to focus on tend to slip away. So it wasn’t a happy time.



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