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Venom – Blue Underground (BluRay / DVD Combo) 
Written by: on May 31st, 2016

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1982
Director: Piers Haggard
Writer: Robert Carrington
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson, Sarah Miles, Sterling Hayden, Susan George, Michael Gough, Cornelia Sharpe, Lance Holcomb

BluRay released: May 31st, 2016
Approximate running time: 92 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD 7.1 English, DTS-HD 5.1 English, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $29.98

Synopsis: A trio of terrorists plans to kidnap that child from a wealthy quickly turn deadly. When they discover that a black mamba lurking somewhere in the home they are unable to leave due to law enforcement waiting for them outside.

Venom was directed by Piers Haggard whose other notable films as a director include, The Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu. Key collaborators on Venom include, cinematographer Gilbert Taylor (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Repulsion) and composer Michael Kamen (Brazil, Mona Lisa).

Man verses nature is a theme that has been explored in countless other films and in the late 1970’s there was a while where these type of films were in great demand. And though this film exploits many of the elements that have since become synonymous with the man verses nature film cycle. There is one area where this film comes up short and that is when it comes to the nature half of the equation.

Let’s face it, the real star of this show is the deadly Black Mamba snake. With some of the most menacing moments being the tracking shot of Black Mamba’s POV. Unfortunately, when it comes to screen time for the Black Mamba it is far too limited. Fortunately, the moments trying to find the Black Mamba these are all well executed and they help sustain the mounting terror.

From performance stand point the entire cast are all very good in their respective roles, especially rock solid performances from Klaus Kinski (Marquis de Sade’s Justine) and Oliver Reed’s (The Party’s Over) in the roles of kidnappers. Other performances of note include, Susan George (Straw Dogs) in the role of the third kidnapper and a very understated performance from the ever reliable Sterling Hayden (The Killing, The Long Goodbye) in the role of grandfather of the boy who has been kidnapped.

Reportedly Venom was a troubled film that had to replace Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) its initial director early on in the production and a few actors also had to be recast. And trying to over a film progress can be a tricky proposition. Overall Venom is a flawed film that never fully realizes its potential of its premise.

The BluRay:

Venom comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand new 2k transfer has been created from the original camera negative and the end result is solid transfer that improves upon Blue Underground’s previous release in every way. Also there are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check.

This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD 7.1 mix in English, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. There are a wide variety of audio options, included with this release with the two standout tracks being DTS-HD mono mix and the DTS-HD 7.1 remix. The former offers up the most satisfying way for purists to listen to this film as it sounded when originally released theatrically, while the latter is a solid remix of the original soundtrack. All audio mixes included with this release sound, clean, clear, balanced and robust when they need too. This release comes with three subtitle options, English SDH, French and Spanish.

Extras for this release include, a reversible cover art, a poster & stills gallery, three T.V, spots (1 minute 35 seconds), a teaser trailer (29 seconds), a trailer for the film (1 minute 23 seconds), a twenty-page booklet with cast & crew information and an essay about the film titled Filmmaking Bites: The Twisting, The Turning History of “Venom” written by Michael Gingold and an audio commentary with director Piers Haggard.

Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, how he replaced the film’s original director Tobe Hooper, the cast and his thoughts about working with them, how the film would have tuned out differently if he had worked on from the beginning and not taken it over from another director, what is was like working with volatile actors’ like Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski and other production related topics.

Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Venom gets a first rate release from Blue Underground.

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