Venom (1981 film)

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US movie poster
Directed by Piers Haggard
Produced by Martin Bregman
Richard R. St. Johns
Louis A. Stroller
Written by Robert Carrington
Alan Scholefield (novel)
Music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography Denys Coop
Gilbert Taylor
Edited by Michael Bradsell
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • 28 November 1981 (1981-11-28) (Japan)
  • 19 January 1982 (1982-01-19) (UK)
  • 29 January 1982 (1982-01-29) (U.S.)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $5,229,643[1]

Venom is a 1981 horror film directed by Piers Haggard and starring Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson and Sarah Miles.


An international criminal enlists Ruth Hopkins' maid and chauffeur in a scheme to kidnap her asthmatic ten-year-old son Philip for ransom. As the plot begins to unfold, Philip has just brought home a snake from a local importer, unaware that his new pet has been accidentally switched with a deadly black mamba destined for a toxicology lab. The lab reports the mix-up, and a police officer is dispatched to the Hopkins residence, only to be shot by the panicking chauffeur. The London townhouse is surrounded by police, trapping the criminals, the child, and his grandfather inside with the mamba, which is now loose in the ventilation system.



Tobe Hooper was originally attached to direct but quit because of "creative differences".

Klaus Kinski chose to do this movie instead of Raiders of the Lost Ark because the salary was higher. In his autobiography, Kinski Uncut, he also stated that the script for the Spielberg movie was "moronically shitty".[2]

Piers Haggard later recalled:

I took over that at very short notice. Tobe Hooper had been directing it and they had stopped for whatever reason. It hadn’t been working. I did see some of his stuff and it didn’t look particularly good plus he also had some sort of nervous breakdown or something. So anyway they stopped shooting and offered it to me. Unfortunately I had commitments, I had some commercials to shoot. But anyway I took it over with barely ten days of preparation - which shows. It doesn’t become my picture, it’s a bit inbetween... [Oliver Reed was] scary at first because he was always testing you all the time. Difficult but not as difficult as Klaus Kinski. Because Oliver actually had a sense of humour. I was rather find [sic] of him; he could be tricky but he was quite warm really. He just played games and was rather macho and so on. Klaus Kinski was very cold. The main problem with the film was that the two didn’t get on and they fought like cats. Kinski of course is a fabulous film actor and he’s good in the part, the part suits him very well. They were both well cast but it was a very unhappy film. I think Klaus was the problem but then Oliver spent half the movie just trying to rub him up, pulling his leg all the way. There were shouting matches because Oliver just wouldn’t let up. None of this is about art. All the things that you’re trying to concentrate on tend to slip. So it was not a happy period.[3]


The film was released theatrically in the United States by Paramount Pictures in 1982. It grossed $5,229,643 at the box office.[4]

The film was released on special edition DVD by Blue Underground in 2003.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times said, "If Venom doesn't turn out to be the silliest film of 1982, it's a good bet that it will land within a hoot and a holler of that distinction."[6]

Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict said, "If someone told you that a movie that combined elements of Dog Day Afternoon, Sssssss, and an episode of The Crocodile Hunter was actually an effective slice of serpentine horror, you'd report them to poison control as a victim of taste toxicology post haste. But make no mistake about it, this is one case of coral corniness that actually cures what ails you…if what you want is filled with gloriously hammy overacting and draped in the antics of an antsy anaconda. Venom is filled to the fangs with viper righteousness."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Dwight Garner. "Kinski Uncut". Salon Magazine. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  3. ^ Piers Haggard interview, 2003, MJ Simpson accessed 11 April 2014
  4. ^ "Venom". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  5. ^ "Venom". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  6. ^ Vincent Canby (1982-02-05). "Venom". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  7. ^ Bill Gibron. "Venom". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 

External links[edit]