Venom 1981 ***

Piers Haggard’s 1981 thriller is notable for the combination of two of cinema’s most notorious hell-raisers, Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski. From all accounts, they hated each other, and it’s remarkable that Haggard kept the film on track. They play two terrorists who attempt to take a child and his grandfather hostage in a London flat, only to find themselves trapped in a siege situation and a deadly black mamba snake loose in the building, picking off the bad-guys one by one. Although Venom failed to do for snakes was jaws did for sharks, venom is quite an engagingly trashy thriller, with the Black Mamba, Kinski and Reed all giving uniformly strong and rather similar performances. Kinski turned down Raiders of the Lost Ark to make this forgotten often amusing film, notable for a scene in which the snake boldly enters Oliver Reed’s trousers.


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