Ahh, another bit of nostalgia hitting me right here. Back when I was a kid, I saw this movie one of the days while at day care (I already explained my experiences with day care). I don’t know why this had such an impact on me but I vividly remembered this movie years later and would often decide to go look for it. After several instances of it popping into my head and my wanting to watch it again, I decided to buy a copy of it on DVD. There was just one problem, for some reason, I remembered this title as being Black Mamba, which it apparently wasn’t it’s title. I eventually learned the real title just as a Blu-Ray release came out. So I immediately pre-ordered it and have enjoyed watching Venom (1981) ever since.
The plot: Ruth Hopkins picks up her son Philip from the American Academy in London and when they arrive home, says that she would like to spend some time with him before she leaves on her trip but Philip rushes up to his “zoo” to feed all of his animals. Ruth asks her maid Louise if her father, Howard, is there and she tells him he is downstairs so Ruth heads down to see him, asking Louise to bring them some tea but after she leaves, Dave, their chauffeur, gets Louise’s attention and motions upstairs. Ruth enters her father’s room and asks how he is doing and Howard says he should be out of their hair in 4 weeks. Ruth then talks about her trip, wondering if she should cancel it as she is overly worried about Philip’s health but Howard tells her he will be fine taking care of Philip and she needs to go, as she hasn’t seen her husband in a month. Meanwhile, meets Louise in her room as she is cleaning some of Ruth’s jewelry for her trip and he worries that she might cancel her trip at the last minute but Louise assures him that she is leaving. He then asks if she is sure about Jacmel’s plan and she tells him everything will be ok, then starts taking off her clothes as she says she plans on showing him what they will be doing once things are finished. That night, Ruth says goodbye to Philip and Howard and Dave drives her to the airport for her trip, but after she heads inside and disappears from view, Dave heads inside as well and asks if a flight from Madrid arrived. He is told it has and when he turns around, he is confronted by Jacmel, who says he is late and they head off, with Dave handing him a gun as they drive. Dave drives Jacmel to a secluded house in the country, telling him it is paid for 3 months in advance like he asked, then hands him the keys to the house and the car and drives off. Jacmel enters the house and checks it out and is met soon by Louise, who reveals that her and Jacmel are lovers and worked together on their plan. The next day, Howard calls a cab and helps Philip get inside and head off, despite Louise’s protest that he can’t leave on his own. After heading back inside, Howard receives a phone call from Jacmel, who tells Howard he is organizing a safari and would like to meet with him to discuss his leading it and Howard agrees to the meet. After Howard hangs up, Louise attempts to call Jacmel to tell him that Philip left but he is one the phone arranging to have Howard told he is delayed so that he can ensure Howard is kept out of the house. Philip arrives at a exotic pet store and when the owner’s wife asks what he is there for, he tells her that he is picking up his order. She tells him where his crate is and he grabs it and thanks her, then gets back in the cab to head home. Meanwhile, at the Institute of Toxicology, Dr. Marion Stowe is told by her assistant that the snake they received doesn’t appear to be the black mamba they ordered and when she looks for herself, she agrees and says it is a harmless rat snake. Realizing the store must have mixed up their orders, she calls and speaks to the owners wife, who tells her about Philip, and then calls the police. She tells them the situation and tells them that they need to send someone to get the snake quickly before it bites Philip or someone else. Philip arrives at the house and Louise greets him as he gets outside, then tries to get him into Jacmel’s car, saying Howard sent it for him, but Philips insists on putting his new snake in it’s cage, slipping away while she is distracted by the cab driver. Racing up to his room, Philip passes by Dave, with Louise close behind him, and convinces her to help him put the snake in it’s cage. As Louise opens the box, she screams as the snake rears up and starts biting her, then slithers off under the bed. Howard, who had just arrived back home, hears the scream and races inside, followed by Jacmel, and asks what happened. When Dave explains what happened, Howard says it was a rat snake and Louise is probably in shock but leaves to call for an ambulance, only for Dave to rip out the phone and attack him. Jacmel chastises Dave for his actions, telling him not to do anything unless he says so, and then goes to get Louise and Philip and take them out of there. Dave goes and loads a shotgun and meets them downstairs, where Jacmel yells at him for getting the gun, when a policeman shows up at the house about the snake. Philip yells out for help and when the officer opens the door to see what is going on, Dave shoots him in the chest. As Jacmel quickly closes the door and yells at Dave for panicking, the officer manages to crawl to his car and radio for help before dying. Philip manages to get away and Dave and Jacmel go after him and when they finally catch him, they see Louise violently reacting from the venom before dying. Dave weeps over her body and Jacmel says they should leave when they hear sirens getting closer as the police seal off the street and surround the house. Commander William Bulloch assumes command of the situation and speaks with Jacmel, who yells out through the window for them to stay back. Jacmel has Howard examine Louise’s body and he tells them she was bit by a mamba, having seen their bites before while in Africa. Jacmel escorts him upstairs to try and locate the snake, but unknown to them, they snake has made it’s way into the ventilation system. Outside, Bulloch has sharpshooters stationed across the street and makes all of his preparations before having Jacmel’s car towed. Dave, seeing them tow the car, yells at them and threatens to shoot but Jacmel drags him inside and slaps him, telling him to get a grip. Bulloch then calls out to Jacmel and asks for his demands and after Jacmel lists them, Bullock heads back to the control van. One of his assistants tells him they received a call from Marion who told them about the snake and Bulloch asks that she be brought there. Inside the house, Philip starts having an asthma attack and Howard asks to be allowed to get his medicine but Jacmel refuses to let him leave. When Marion arrives, she explains the situation to Bulloch and he has her go with him to tell Jacmel. Jacmel tells them that Louise has been bitten and asks that Marion come in and treat her but when Bulloch refuses to let her inside the house, Jacmel says they will bring her to the steps for Marion to treat. When Louise’s body is placed on the steps, Marion goes to treat only to discover that it was really Jacmel, who quickly takes her hostage and brings her inside the house. Angered by the deception, Bulloch goes over the building’s blueprints and old maps to make sure there is no other way in or out and discovers that a shop close buy was built on an old stable house that was connected to the main building and sends some men to see if there is a servant’s entrance that might have been covered up. Inside the house, Howard makes another plea to get Philip’s medicine and Jacmel takes him upstairs to get it, leaving Dave to watch Philip and Marion. When Dave decides to get a drink from the liquor cabinet, he is shocked to find the mamba inside and quickly leaps back before it can bite him. Jacmel and Howard return and Jacmel quickly closes the door and moves the cabinet from the wall just as the mamba is making it’s way back into the ducts so he covers it with a pillow. Deciding to try and force the cops into giving in to their demands, he has Dave hold her up to window as she starts screaming in pain, then Jacmel tosses a box out to Bulloch, which contains a female finger inside. Bulloch has the car brought back outside the house and as Dave rejoices in seeing it, Jacmel orders him to check all over the house to make sure it is locked up. Dave takes Howard with him and they check the house, making their way to the basement, not knowing that the mamba had made it’s way down there as well. Meanwhile, Bulloch heads to the shop and prepares to head through the service entrance to reach the basement, accompanied by a member of the herpetology department from the London Zoo in case the mamba appears. He burst through the wall just as Dave and Howard enter the basement and Bulloch shoots Dave in the shoulder but the mamba appears, forcing Bulloch back through the shop door while Howard quickly heads upstairs, leaving Dave to be killed by the mamba. Ruth arrives at the scene, frantic with worry for Philip, and the money arrives so Bulloch heads out to speak with Jacmel. Jacmel has Marion go onto the balcony and tell Bulloch that everything is fine but as Jacmel keeps an eye on her, Howard notices the mamba entering the room and making it’s way towards Jacmel. The mamba strikes Jacmel, who thrashes about and struggles with the snake, ending up smashing through the window on the other balcony. As he attempts to shoot the snake, the sharpshooters begin shooting at him and Jacmel manages to kill the snake before falling off the balcony to his death. As Bulloch and his men advance on the house and make sure everyone is ok, they are unaware that the mamba had been pregnant and laid it’s eggs in the ducts, one of which had already hatched.
This is one of those movies that is not exactly a good movie, but can be entertaining. The acting was ok, though a bit stoic and somewhat slow at times, which could bore some people. The story was interesting, basically a simple kidnapping/ransom story line that gets messed up with the inclusion of the mamba. I will say that Susan George’s (Louise) death scene, as well as Klaus Kinski (Jacmel) end scene with the snake was a bit overly dramatic but they didn’t exactly diminish the movie and could be laughed at to a degree. The special effects regarding the snake were interesting, but the odd camera lens they used for the snake’s POV was a bit annoying. I am sure a part of my enjoyment of this movie is due to some nostalgia but it is still a decent movie that is worth giving a shot.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5