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Venom (2005)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Fangs, But No Fangs!"
1 stars

Remember the good old days of the immediate post-9/11 era when all of the Hollywood studios were suddenly (though briefly) struck with a sense of corporate responsibility and did everything that they could to make sure that their immediate releases bore not even the most minor reminder of the tragedy? The World Trade Center was digitally erased from numerous titles, scripts of films not yet in production were either rewritten or abandoned and, in the most infamous case, the Arnold Schwarzenegger epic “Collateral Damage” was delayed for six months because it dealt with a fireman looking for revenge against the terrorists who killed his family in the bombing of a building. Well, times appear to have changed considerably since then since less than a couple of weeks after the spectacle of Hurricane Katrina traumatized the world, we are being treated to “Venom,” a fairly dippy horror film in which a bunch of dopes are chased through the swamps of a rural Louisiana town by a bloated corpse that has revived and is out for blood. Apparently there is something in the world that is stronger than Hurricane Katrina and its emotional fallout and that is the desire of Miramax Films to finish unloading their shelves of troubled, long-delayed projects before their deal with Disney officially expires.

I mean, it isn’t as if the film is so fiercely original that it needs to be shown to the public as soon as humanly possible. The cliches fly so thick, in fact, that it seems as if the filmmakers got a checklist of everything that a crappy horror film is required to display and decided to try to shove all of them in. Ancient curses? Check. A malevolent town weirdo? Check. A Good Girl teen trying to confront a personal trauma? Check. A group of drunk and slutty pals who will serve as cannon fodder for most of the running time? Check. A PC-speech in which a mystical belief system is described as being a real religion and not just the material for crappy horror films? Check. Someone standing in front of a window for no other reason than to have the monster jump and grab them? Check. A black guy who serves as the first victim? Check. A morgue where the only lighting comes from a couple of malfunctioning fluorescent tubes that flicker on and off at appropriately menacing times? Check. A monster that is described as being incredibly powerful and practically unstoppable who is nevertheless defeated in the final reels by the girl whose IQ matches her bra size (thereby making her the smartest person in the story by far)? Check. A second finale that looks suspiciously like a last-minute reshoot (none of the footage really matches what we have seen earlier) designed to jolt the duller members of the audience and to open the door to a sequel that will probably happen right about the time that Piper Perabo and I welcome our third child into the world? Check.

I suppose I should give a couple of specifics. After retrieving a suitcase containing 13 snakes possessing the evil souls of 13 monstrous psychopathic killers on a dark and stormy night (even though there is no pressing reason as to why she can’t wait until daylight or even simply not remove the case from its hiding place in the first place), a voodoo priestess has a head-on collision on a bridge with a tow truck. Malevolent tow-truck driver Ray (Rick Cramer) tries to save and for his troubles winds up drowning in the back of her car while being bitten by the 13 now-free snakes. Inevitably, he becomes possessed by their evil and starts going on a killing spree with his trusty crowbar. Eventually, he focuses his pursuit on a group of dopey teens, including Good Girl Eden (Agnes Bruckner, whose presence is a surprise since she can actually act), pouting boyfriend Eric (Jonathan Jackson) and the priestess’s granddaughter (Meagan Good) and begins transforming them into beef jerky. If you need any more of the blanks filled in, you may as well go and see this film because it will contain endless surprises for you.

“Venom” is another dreary slog through slasher movie cliches (director Jim Gillespie and producer Kevin Williamson take extra care to borrow things from their not-exactly-classic “I Know What You Did Last Summer”) and what makes it especially annoying is that when the film does occasionally stumble upon a promising idea, it has no idea what to do with it. Since we know that Ray has been possessed with 13 different forms of evil, you might think that he would be doing different things to his victims as his various inhabitants fight for control of his body. Instead, he just does the same things you’ve seen Jason do a hundred times over by now. And then there is the brief appearance by Bijou Philips, who pops up in a couple of scenes (if not quite out) and then is killed via sandblaster. I know that the idea of Bijou Philips getting sandblasted in the face sounds like the punchline to an exceptionally arcane dirty joke but it could have led to a reasonably cool bit of goriness (which is the only reason anyone bothered to make the film in the first place). Instead, they have the sandblaster go into the camera lens and then cuts away–we don’t even get a decently icky shot of the end results later on. (Presumably it was left out in order to goose DVD sales with the inevitable “Unrated” edition.)

I take it back. There is one thing in “Venom,” a film so awful that the line “Can’t you de-milk him or something?” is not the worst line of dialogue, that I did get a kick out of seeing. The kids go into the spooky old house belonging to the voodoo priestess (and looking like it was the road-show version of the joint in “The Skeleton Key”) and poke around in the dark at the various talismans and bric-a-brac. Eventually the granddaughter enters, asks what is going on and then . . . she actually turns on a light so that everyone can see what they are doing. Will wonders never cease?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13095&reviewer=389
originally posted: 09/15/05 23:52:55
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User Comments

11/01/09 art SNAKEBITTEN! 3 stars
6/15/06 Garrett If you dont take it seriously. Its a great and fun movie. 5 stars
6/04/06 mary great 5 stars
3/26/06 chris f very good movie 4 stars
10/24/05 DEEDeeDEEe BFF YOUR YHR ONLY ONE WHO SEEN IT ! and paid 1 stars
9/17/05 bff great 5 stars
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  16-Sep-2005 (R)
  DVD: 17-Jan-2006



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