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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Venomous: SE
Venomous: SE
Fox // PG-13 // January 22, 2002
List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted January 15, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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CineSchlock-O-Rama

Seen Outbreak? Well, the producers of Venomous (2001, 97 minutes) have secretly replaced its eeking Ebola-fied monkey with similarly-tainted diamondback rattlesnakes in an attempt to heighten the audience's squirm factor (without the recent resurgence of gigantism among killer critters). There's even a couple of earnest physicians struggling with the breakdown of their marriage, a precocious little nose miner who comes perilously close to never seeing junior high and a whole mess of mean-nasty military guys insistent on vaporizing the infected citizenry. Sounds mighty familiar, eh? B-regular Dan Golden takes credit for the script, while CineSchlocker fave Fred Olen Ray directs under his Ed Raymond alias.

The movie: Jimmy Olson from the Superman films (Marc McClure) let's some Iraqi spies posing as journalists into a high-security government facility that's juicing ordinary rattlers with a deadly virus that dissolves folks from the inside out. But the Iraqis thought enough ahead to bring along a briefcase full of explosives (labeled "C4" for clarity) and blow the joint sky high. Poor Jimbo! Miraculously the hearty snakes survive and slither out to Santa Mira Springs where they live peacefully deep below the desert floor having babies and hissing at each other. That's until 10 years later, when a series of tremors make the rattlers go crazy and LAUNCH themselves from the ground to go looking to bite something. Patient zero is a cute lil puppy dog who gets its snout struck and promptly gives its owner a big sloppy kiss. Both drop dead, but not before its master infects half the county, drawing the attention of our hero, Dr. Henning (Treat Williams). From there it's pretty much Outbreak city, except there's plenty of great footage where WE SEE rattlesnakes, while unsuspecting yahoos, their kiddos and pets DON'T and go reaching and sniffing where they shouldn't. Ah, the serenity of the manufactured tension of a frisky kitten clambering out of a child's bed only to meet the business end of a diseased viper! CineSchlockers may cry foul when another sickly snake goes toilet diving just like the cancerous python in Andy Sidaris' can-tastic classic Hard Ticket to Hawaii. And here there's no chance of seeing Playboy bunnies firing uzis.

Notables: No breasts. 21 corpses. Six snake bites. Exploding building. Multiple earthquakes. Gratuitous fry cook. Snake milking. Hypodermic closeup. Helicopter attack. Two-fisted gun shooting.

Quotables: Doc Henning is friendly toward belly-crawlers, "The rattlesnake is one of the most misunderstood creatures on Earth." Even when he's surrounded by gobs of them, "If you guys let me slide on this, no more wallets, no more shoes, no more belts." General Sparks barks, "National security is at risk here! Not to mention our own asses!!!"

Time codes: First shot of a coiled rattler (2:45). Sheriff polishes a not so-subtle plot device (30:35). Government goons descend on Santa Mira in biohazard gear (36:05). Treat navigates a real-life pit of vipers (1:04:45).

Audio/Video: Pristine widescreen (1.85:1) transfer. However, unavoidable grain appears in the stealth fighter stock footage. Robust Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks that sink viewers right in the middle of angry rattlesnakes. If that's a GOOD thing!

Extras: Somewhat mellow commentary by Fred Olen Ray. He does an excellent job illustrating how low-budget filmmakers can improve the production value of their work through effective camera moves and creative location management. CineSchlockers will especially appreciate his explanation of casting choices (like the great Andrew Stevens as a presidential adviser). Photo gallery. Cast bios. Trailer. Motion-video menus with audio. No printed insert or liner notes.

Final thought: No real surprises on any front. Snakes are icky. This disc earns a higher rating due to the commentary. Recommended.

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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.
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