I think that at the turn of the century, we had all sorts of straight to video B-Movies coming out. The good news with this is that many of these were quick to wind up on TV, particularly on Sci-Fi Channel, and I was always entertained by these gems. Of course, this also meant I would tend to get these movies on DVD. Today’s movie is honestly one that I mistook for a different movie, however both movies involved rattlesnakes so I wasn’t too disappointed by the mishap. Now it’s time to see if today’s movie, Venomous, is as good as the one I was thinking of
The plot: In 1990 at a U.S. Department of Defense R&D Center in the Mojave Desert, Dr. Dutton sneaks two foreign agents, disguised as journalists, into the lab. Taking them into the genetics lab, he explains that they are doing some gene splicing with rattlesnakes at the moment. The two journalists take a look at the snakes, commenting that this is what the Americans have planned for their people, then quickly leave the room. Dutton is confused at their actions and follows them as they take a service elevator to the basement. Once there, the male agent knocks out a custodian, then proceeds to open his briefcase and start setting up a bomb and as Dutton tries to help the custodian to his feet, the female agent shoots the custodian, then Dutton. The two agents leave but another custodian enters the basement and, seeing the two bodies, hits the alarm button. Guards show up and a shoot out occurs, killing the two agents, but the bomb detonates and destroys the building. However, some of the snakes were not killed in the blast and manage to slither out into the desert. In present day Santa Mira Springs, CA, an earthquake occurs disturbing a large nest of rattlers that was living in an underground chamber. As the rattlers start making their way above ground, one of them bites a dog that gets too close to it. The dog runs off back to it’s owner Bob Jenkins, licking his face as Bob pets it, then Bob gets in his truck and drives off while the dog lays down on the front porch of the man’s store. As he is driving, he begins coughing and driving erratically, causing Sheriff Jack Crowley to pull him over. When Bob’s truck finally stops, Jack finds him having seizures in the truck and quickly calls for an ambulance. He is taken to the local hospital, where Dr. David Henning and Dr. Eric Foreman examine him but have no idea what he is suffering from. When Bob dies, David calls his estranged wife, Dr. Christine Edmonton, and explains what happens and asks if she could do a more detailed examination on a sample. A few days later, a young man named Billy Sanderson is bitten by a rattler outside his home. He goes to the hospital, where David gives him some anti-venom and insists that he wait a few hours before leaving. As David leaves to answer a call from Christine, Billy drinks a glass of lemonade and hands it to Nurse Josie Randall but it drops out of his hand and breaks and as Josie picks up the pieces, she ends up getting cut by some of the shards. As she leaves to tend to her injury, Billy leaves the hospital, coughing up blood as he gets in his car and leaves for work. David speaks with Christine, who tells him that the sample contained some sort of unknown virus and tells him she will bring it to her superiors’ attention. Billy goes to his job at a diner, where he continues coughing as he cooks the orders for various people, unknowingly contaminating their food. As his shift ends, Billy collapses to the ground outside the diner and his boss calls 911. David and Eric start treatment on Billy and as David talks with Billy’s wife Cindy and asks if Billy had any contact with Bob Jenkins, one of the diner’s customers shows up complaining of food poisoning. As David quickly puts a face mask on the woman and orders an isolation room made ready, Josie also collapses onto the floor and David calls out for help with her. In D.C., Christine goes over the case with General Arthur Manchek and explains that aside from Billy, Bob, and Josie, 4 customers also were admitted into the hospital with the same symptoms and asks that they be allowed to investigate the matter and Manchek agrees. After she leaves, Manchek takes the file and meets with Major General Thomas Sparks, saying that it is similar to the project they worked on 10 years ago but appears to be mutated. Sparks tells him that they can’t afford to have anyone investigating the matter, not even the White House, so Manchek intercepts the latest blood samples sent to Christine and switches them for some different samples. Back in Santa Mira Springs, Eric goes to the diner to speak to the owner about Billy while David goes to the sheriff’s office and gets the keys to Bob’s place, wanting to look around for signs of whatever might have killed him, eventually locating Bob’s dog’s body and he quickly calls Eric to get someone to pick it up. Back in D.C., Christine examines the samples and finds they contain E. Coli, but no trace of the virus that killed Bob, and Manchek tells her she should be happy and after she leaves, he makes arrangements to leave for Santa Mira Springs. Christine calls David and tells her what she found and he says there has to be a mistake but she informs him that she is coming to town and they can talk then. When the reports come in on Bob’s dog showing that it was bit by a rattler, David theorizes that the snakes are the common cause and has Eric put together an advisory with Animal Control. Suddenly, Manchek and some soldiers arrive, telling David they are there to help with the epidemic. When he learns that David is issuing an advisory on the snakes, he orders a media black out of the area, then heads to the sheriff’s office and tells him that the city is under quarantine. As another earthquake hits the area, Christine calls her sister Sue and asks to stay there while she is in town but later, after watching the news saying the town is in a media blackout, Christine tries calling again and finds she can’t get through. Meanwhile, Sparks goes to see the Presidents Chief of Staff and lies about what is happening in Santa Mira Springs, telling him it is an Ebola outbreak that has already killed 1000 people and possibly infected the whole town. Sparks wants to use an emergency directive to kill everyone in town to contain the virus but the Chief of Staff refuses to bring that option to the President. Meanwhile, the army is still maintaining a strict presence in the city, which is making many of the town’s residents nervous. As a doomsday prepper, Larry Kizinsky, and his family work on securing their home, the man is bitten by a rattler and his wife attempts to suck out the poison. When they both start felling sick, Larry’s brother Frank drives them to the hospital, where Eric admits them both while Frank claims he is fine. Christine uses her D.O.D. credentials to make it into town and heads to the hospital. She meets with David just as Eric tells them of the new snakebite victim and David invites her to see the virus first hand. Later, Christine heads to her sister’s house and warns her about the snakes just as her nephew Jimmy shows up with a baby kitten that he found. When Christine returns to the hospital, David tells her that there have been 4 more snakebite victims and Christine is shocked to find Manchek there. She accuses him of leaving her out of the loop on this and he tells her that since she was a civilian there were certain things that were deemed need to know, but since she is there now she won’t be permitted to leave until the virus is contained. That night, Manchek heads back to the base camp outside of town and receives a call from Sparks, saying to prepare for Directive 7-12, as he has the head of the Science Advisory Board agreeing with him and plans to speak with the Chief of Staff again in the morning. The next day, Frank shows up with a gun, demanding they release his brother so he can take him to a hospital in another town. Eric is shot as he tries to stop them and David tries to reason with them as Frank points his gun at him but Frank makes it outside with Larry and drives off. David tells the MP’s that Larry is contaminated and follows after them as the MP’s call it in. As Frank attempts to drive out of town, a helicopter flies overhead and starts shooting at them, causing the car to crash. Frank gets out of the car and grabs a bazooka from the trunk and shoots down the helicopter but a second helicopter appears and kills him. David witnesses the events and argues with Manchek over what happened, then questions why the medical supplies aren’t being delivered like they were promised. Meanwhile, the Chief of Staff contacts Sparks and says that if the whole town is dead like he says, then the President will authorize the air strike to eradicate any trace of the virus and Sparks simply smiles as he hangs up the phone. Back in Santa Mira Springs, Christine is testing some more samples when another earthquake hits and she ends up getting a piece of a broken test tube in her hand. Realizing what has happened, she removes the glass and attempts to treat the injury just as David shows up to see if she is ok and she lies about being injured. David checks in with Eric, then heads to a place where he figures the rattlers might be hiding, as he believes that they can get use the snakes to fashion antibodies to counteract the virus, since the snakes are apparently immune. Heading into the water maintenance tunnel, he finds some snakes and catches one, only to discover that more snakes have appeared in the tunnel and he carefully makes his way out of there. Returning to the hospital, David finds Christine passed out and he yells out for Eric to help her, then works on milking the rattler so he can get the antibodies needed to save her. Meanwhile, Sparks calls Manchek and tells him they received the authorization for Directive 7-12 and he will arrive there soon. That night, a family decides to try and break out of the quarantine zone and make a run for it. Sparks orders helicopters to pursue them and as they family makes it’s way along the mountain roads, the wife loses control of her car and ends up crashing down a ravine and dying in an explosion. The husband and son get out of their car and surrender but Sparks orders them to be killed as well. David tries out the anti-virus on Christine and when she flat lines, he believes he failed but her heart beat suddenly starts up again and she is shown to make a full recovery. With Christine’s help, David and Eric are able to create the formula for a synthetic antibody they can use to cure or vaccinate people and Christine heads out to see Manchek to get his help with the supplies but when she gets there, Sparks says he can’t help her, then orders the plane to launch. Outside the city, the reporter says that the army is evacuating the town, as the residents are all dead, and a fire bomb attack is being used to level the town and destroy the virus. Meanwhile, Sue discovers that the last earthquake damaged a water pipe and she goes out to fix it, not knowing that a rattler had managed to crawl into the pipe. When she turns the water back on and takes a shower, the rattler makes it’s way out of the toilet and bites her as she is drying off. Back at the hospital, David wonders what’s taking Christine so long and goes looking for her, only to be captured by Sparks and Manchek. Christine realizes that Sparks is responsible for the virus and he says it was developed for use against Iraqi forces during Desert Storm but a security breach caused the project to be suspended and some of the test subjects escaped and apparently bred. Manchek wants to abort the mission, as they have a cure to help the people, but Sparks shoots him, then gets onto a helicopter and flies out of there, only to find some rattlers had gotten into the helicopter while it was picking him up and as he tries killing them, he accidentally shoots the pilot and control panel, causing the helicopter to explode. David manages to free himself and Christine and as she heads to the barricade to explain to the media that there are still people in the town and beg that they stop the bombing, David heads to the sheriff’s office and grabs a flare gun to use to try and call off the bombing. Their plans work and the bombing is called off and the army starts helping capture some snakes to use for the vaccine. After the town is saved, Christine decides to stay in town and patch things up with David, while the army detonate the snake’s den, believing they have killed all of the snakes but unknown to them, some more snakes have survived deep underground.
This was a pretty good movie altogether. The acting was ok, with Treat Williams and Mary Page Keller doing good jobs in their respective roles of David and Christine respectively. I also liked Tony Denison, who seemed to go all in with his portraying Sparks as a completely amoral person that will do whatever is in his best interests, regardless on who gets hurt in the process. The story was interesting, mixing a lot of different themes to try and tell a full story. While the whole terrorist bit at the beginning was a weak way to set up the rest of the film, the military cover-up aspect was actually pretty well done. The special effects involving the snakes were pretty good, as they didn’t try making them bigger or faster, simply more aggressive, which made them seem more natural than some other snake movies. It’s not going to be for everyone, as plenty of people are scared of snakes, but it is a decent movie to watch.
Rating: 3 out of 5