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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Venom (1981/Blue Underground Blu-ray w/DVD)

Venom (1981/Blue Underground Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: B+/B- Sound: B+/B- Extras: B Film: C+

Directed by Piers Haggard (who took over the director's chair from Poltergeist director Tobe Hooper), Venom is an interesting suspense/thriller with great characters and an interesting cast that includes Oliver Reed, Klaus Kinski, Michael Gough, Sterling Hayden, and Sarah Miles to name a few. For the first time, thanks to Blue Underground, the film has been beautifully restored on Blu-ray disc with a great new 2K transfer, restored sound, nice collectible package (complete with a color booklet - a rarity these days) and great extras that make this release definitely worth checking out for fans of cult cinema.

A duo of International terrorists (Kinski and Reed) attempt to kidnap a wealthy couple's asthmatic boy named Phillip with the help of their attractive Maid while his rich mother is gone for the week on a business trip. In hopes of making his grandson happy while his mother is away, his grandfather (Hayden - who happens to be a retired African explorer) decides to let the boy pick up a harmless house snake to add to his small collection of animals that he tends for in his small bedroom.

Things goes south when the boy picks up a deadly black mamba snake by mistake at the pet shop, which was meant for a local professor to experiment on in a controlled lab environment. As the boy gets home, the snake bites the maid and a police officer is shot on the property in quick judgement. Now, the terrorist kidnappers must fend for their lives inside the house where the snake is loose, all the while dealing with a Police standoff outside, which forces them with nowhere to turn. Will they survive the night?

The film is presented on Blu-ray disc in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an impressive list of audio tracks including lossless 7.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio), 2.0 DTS-HD lossless, lossy 6.1 DTS-ES discrete, lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX, and Stereo. The 2K restoration is flawless with lush color and impeccable details on characters and costumes. The film has never looked better than it does here! Also included is a DVD version of the film presented in standard definition with a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track and an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which looks good for the format but can't compare with the quality of the Blu-ray disc at all.

Extras include....

Audio Commentary with Director Piers Haggard

Theatrical and Teaser Trailers, TV Spots

Poster & Still Gallery

A very cool bonus Collectable Booklet featuring an essay by (now former) Fangoria Editor Michael Gingold

While the film starts out quite suspenseful some aspects of it are a bit dated and drags a bit during the second act, however the ending sequence definitely makes up for the parts that lag. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film, thanks in part to the great actors and the beautiful cinematography that is easy on the eyes.

The use of a real black mamba snake also adds to the suspense (I'm sure again that if it was remade today, the snake would be digital) and the filmmaking techniques used to make its attacks seem more vicious using point of view photography and quick cutaways to make the creature more threatening.

If you're interested in checking this film out, be sure you check out this release on Blu-ray disc. As mentioned, the transfer and new sound mix really bring the film the film to life in a way you wouldn't be able to experience otherwise. In some ways, the film reminds me of David Fincher's Panic Room in that it deals with building suspense, kidnapping, a main child character with asthmatic problems, and scenes of great tension.

- James Lockhart



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