Venom (1981)

Seriously, what drugs is this movie on, how can we go back in time and get them and how great will the high be?

International criminal Jacques Müller (real-life maniac Klaus Kinski) and his lover Louise Andrews (Susan George) kidnap Philip Hopkins (Lance Holcomb), the grandson of hotel chain owner and great white hunter Howard Anderson (Sterling Hayden). It’s easy — Louise works as a maid, seduces chauffeur Dave Averconnelly (Oliver Reed) and gets him into the team without ever thinking through the psychosexual dynamics of the triad that she’s created.

The problem — well, one of many — is that Phillip meant to bring his snake and ended up grabbing a black mamba that is ready to kill anything and everything, but toxicologist Dr. Marion Stowe (Sarah Miles) was late, the switch was off and well, now we have a deadly snake that bites Louise’s face until she dies, leaving the cucker and the cucked to deal with the emotional fallout, as well as Dave just blasting cops when he gets too nervous.

Commander William Bulloch (Nicol Williamson) arrives — you can’t shot a cop in England without this happening, go figure — and Müller demands a million in different bills and transportation, while Dr. Stowe brings a case of anti-venom she just whipped up.

That snake wipes out all the bad guys and the end, well, it bits Müller repeatedly, then they both get shot so many times that you’d think they were a black criminal trying to outrace a white cop on foot, then they both fall off the building. Truly a death that was earned by Kinski.

As you can imagine, Kinski and Reed measured dicks this entire film, constantly trying to outdo each other. This was going to be a Tobe Hooper movie, which is blowing my mind right now, before he was replaced by Piers Haggard, who made The Blood On Satan’s Claw.

Haggard told Fangoria, “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 in between. . . 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 humor. I was rather fond 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.”

Once, at a party at Elaine’s, Kinski bragged about how he and other members of the cast and crew ganged up on Hooper a couple of weeks into the shoot to get him fired. It must have been a horrific set, as cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond quit at the same time and Haggard claimed that the Black Mamba was the nicest person on set.

And oh yeah — Kinski took this movie instead of Raiders of the Lost Ark, telling Spielberg that his script was “moronically shitty.”

For that alone, you should watch this movie. It’s on Tubi.

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