DirectorPiers Haggard Music directorMichael Kamen Duration CountryUK
WriterRobert Carrington, Alan Scholefield Release dateNovember 28, 1981
January 19, 1982
January 29, 1982 CastKlaus Kinski (Jacques Müller (Jacmel)), Oliver Reed (Dave Averconnelly), Nicol Williamson (Cmdr. William Bulloch), Sarah Miles (Dr. Marion Stowe), Sterling Hayden (Howard Anderson), Cornelia Sharpe (Ruth Hopkins) Similar moviesSnake Island, Vipers, Spasms, Beetlejuice, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Venom official trailer 1981
Venom is a 1981 British horror film directed by Piers Haggard, written by Robert Carrington, based on Alan Scholefield's novel of the same name, and starring Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson, and Sarah Miles.
An international criminal named Jacmel (Kinski) enlists Ruth Hopkins' maid Louise (George) and chauffeur Dave (Reed) in a scheme to kidnap her asthmatic ten-year-old son Philip (Holcomb) 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 (Hayden) inside with the mamba, which is now loose in the ventilation system.
Klaus Kinski as Jacques Müller (Jacmel)
Sterling Hayden as Howard Anderson
Sarah Miles as Dr. Marion Stowe
Nicol Williamson as Cmdr. William Bulloch
Cornelia Sharpe as Ruth Hopkins
Susan George as Louise Andrews
Lance Holcomb as Philip Hopkins
Oliver Reed as Dave Averconnelly
Mike Gwilym as Det. Constable Dan Spencer
Paul Williamson as Det. Sgt. Glazer
Michael Gough as David Ball
Hugh Lloyd as Taxi Driver
Rita Webb as Mrs. Loewenthal
Edward Hardwicke as Lord Dunning
John Forbes-Robertson as Sgt. Nash
Tobe Hooper was originally attached to direct but quit because of "creative differences", and Piers Haggard replaced him.
Kinski chose to do this film 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".
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.
The film was released theatrically in the United States by Paramount Pictures in 1982. It grossed $5,229,643 at the box office.
The film was released on special edition DVD by Blue Underground in 2003.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 50% based on 6 reviews with an average rating of 5/10. 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."