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Venom’ solely for horror addicts

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, April 25, 2006

“Venom” is a hard film to review. Its artistic merits fall flat, with a ludicrous plot and unbelievable actors. However, that’s really irrelevant.

The film is a throwback to the glory days of the slasher genre of horror films, movies that starred the iconic Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. Those were the days where dialogue and plot was secondary to gallons of gore and excessive violence. The heroes were secondary to the villain itself, who had to be over-the-top and completely evil. On that criterion, “Venom”is a masterpiece.

The handprints of director Jim Gillespie – the mind behind the mid-90s slasher “I Know What You Did Last Summer”-are evident in “Venom”as the gore is excessive, the plot is minimal, and the deaths are frequent.

The actual characters fit all the stereotypes, and are treated as mere fodder for the killer within the movie. There’s the small town girl who wants something more, the promiscuous girl, etc … . There’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before in a variety of ways.

Even the killer is a conglomeration of a variety of movie serial killers. Take a splash of the Creeper from “Jeepers Creepers,”a hint of Michael Myers from “Halloween”and a heavy dose of Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th”- you have the killer in “Venom.”

The movie begins with an old woman digging up a suitcase in the middle of a bayou. She takes the suitcase with her, but on the way to her destination she is run off the road by a truck driver. While the truck driver is helping her from the car, the car falls off a convenient bridge into a river, trapping him in it. To his surprise, the suitcase pops open, revealing a nest of snakes. Having been locked up for an indefinite amount of time underground, the snakes are not too pleased, and attack the truck driver, poisoning him as the car sinks below the water.

Unfortunately for the people within the film – but fortunately for the audience – the snakes represent the evil spirits found within people. The truck driver dies, but is brought back by the plethora of spirits that now reside in his body. These in turn drive him to commit murders and collect bodies as sacrifices to evil deities. They also slowly turn him reptilian as the movie progresses – creating a gradual, interesting process for the special effects people.

The movie also manages to play with many horror conventions. When the kids think they are safe within a voodoo protected house, the killer whips one with a chain and yanks him from the safety of the house. Overall, the house is ineffectual at keeping the killer out, as he finds an innovative – if not blunt – way of getting around the protective wards.

Like the Creeper, the killer also uses a giant truck as a secondary tool. It even manages to become its own character within the movie, as the sight of it is a good omen of bad things.

“Venom”is a horror film directed at horror fans. Other audiences will find little to like about the movie, but for its intended audience it’s an entertaining ride.