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Film / Venom (1981)

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Not that one, Marvel fans.
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Venom is a 1981 British horror film based on the novel of the same name by Alan Scholefield, directed by Piers Haggard and starring Sterling Hayden (in his final film role), Oliver Reed, Klaus Kinski, Nicol Williamson, Sarah Miles, Susan George, and Michael Gough.

Master criminal Jacques Müller (Kinski) recruits Dave (Reed) and Louise (George), the servants of the rich Hopkins family, to kidnap 10 year-old Philip Hopkins. Unfortunately, a series of circumstances result in them kidnapping Philip's grandfather Howard Anderson (Hayden) and having to hole up inside of the Hopkins' London townhouse, which is now surrounded by the police. Oh, and a harmless pet snake Philip bought was accidentally swapped with a black mamba, the deadliest snake alive, which is currently loose in the house.

The film is notable for using an actual black mamba to play the snake.

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Not to be confused with the 2005 slasher movie, or the 2018 film adaptation of the Marvel comic book character.


The following Tropes can be used to describe the film:

  • Adaptational Nationality: Klaus Kinski's character was French in the book that the movie's based on.
  • Asshole Victim: The only victims the black mamba claims are the kidnappers.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Dave was a psychotic asshole, but his death is so cringeworthy that its hard not to pity him.
  • Ax-Crazy:
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Müller, the leader of the kidnappers, and the black mamba.
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  • Boom, Headshot!: The black mamba has it's head blown off by a police sniper at the climax of the film.
  • Bratty Halfpint: Dr. Stowe's teenage daughter.
  • Catchphrase: Dave’s “He’s a cheeky little bastard!”
  • Child Hater: Dave, who often screams about how Philip is a “cheeky little bastard” whenever he proves an inconvenience and is willing to let him die of an asthma attack.
  • Cold Ham: Müller.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Howard, and to a lesser extent Commander Bulloch.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The main protagonist of the film initially seems to be Howard Anderson, but it soon becomes clear it is an ensemble cast. The closest to a protagonist would be Cmmdr. William Bulloch, the police officer in charge of dealing with the hostage situation. Downplayed, as Howard still remains the most prominent of the hostages.
  • Disney Villain Death: Müller and the black mamba tumble off a balcony after being shot multiple times by police snipers.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After the black mamba is killed, the final shot of the film reveals it has laid an egg in the vents that has just hatched.
  • Fingore: Müller gives Cmmdr. Bulloch a severed finger which he claims belongs to Dr. Stowe. It turns out he’s lying, and it belonged to some random corpse.
  • Great White Hunter: Howard used to be this, but has long since retired.
  • Groin Attack: Dave's death is a nightmarish example.
  • Large Ham: Dave, mainly thanks to shouting almost all the time.
  • The Millstone: Dave causes more problems for the kidnappers than help, being the one to cause police to surround the building by shooting a police officer in broad daylight and giving away his own identity to Cmmdr. Bulloch.
  • The Mole: Louise, the Hopkins' maid was Müller's girlfriend and was sleeping with Dave to keep him on side
  • Ms. Fanservice: Hello, Susan George as the Hopkins' sexy maid Louise. Unfortunately she becomes a Ms. Disservice when the mamba gets her and she tries to take on her male co-stars in the scenery-chewing department.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The officer who goes to the Hopkins’ house to warn them about the black mamba is shot by Dave for his troubles.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted. Despite not taking Dr. Stove's warning that Philip has taken home the black mamba seriously, an officer is still dispatched to the Hopkins residence to warn them. Then further averted by Cmmdr. Bulloch, who is a Reasonable Authority Figure who handles the crisis as best he can, listens to Dr. Stove, and comes up with a way to free the hostages that only fails because the black mamba attacks.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Cmmdr. Bulloch.

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