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Venom is a 1981 British horror film directed by Piers Haggard, written by Robert Carrington, and starring Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson, and Sarah Miles. It is based on Alan Scholefield's novel of the same name.

US theatrical release poster
Directed byPiers Haggard
Produced byMartin Bregman
Screenplay byRobert Carrington
Based onVenom
by Alan Scholefield
Music byMichael Kamen
Edited byMichael Bradsell
  • Morison Film Group
  • Venom Productions Limited
Distributed by
Release date
  • 28 November 1981 (1981-11-28) (Japan)
  • 19 January 1982 (1982-01-19) (United Kingdom)
  • 29 January 1982 (1982-01-29) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$5.2 million[2]



An international criminal named Jacmel (Kinski) enlists Ruth Hopkins' maid Louise (George) and chauffeur Dave (Reed) in a scheme to kidnap her asthmatic ten-year-old son Philip (Holcomb) for ransom. As the plot begins to unfold, Philip has just brought home a snake from a local importer, unaware that his new pet has been accidentally switched with a deadly black mamba destined for a toxicology lab. The lab reports the mix-up, and a police officer is dispatched to the Hopkins residence, only to be shot by the panicking chauffeur. The London townhouse is surrounded by police, trapping the criminals, the child, and his grandfather (Hayden) inside with the mamba, which is now loose in the ventilation system.



Tobe Hooper was originally attached to direct but quit because of "creative differences", and Piers Haggard replaced him.

Kinski chose to do this film instead of Raiders of the Lost Ark because the salary was higher. In his autobiography, Kinski Uncut, he also stated that the script for the Spielberg movie was "moronically shitty".[3]

Haggard later recalled:

I took over that at very short notice. Tobe Hooper had been directing it and they had stopped for whatever reason. It hadn’t been working. I did see some of his stuff and it didn’t look particularly good plus he also had some sort of nervous breakdown or something. So anyway they stopped shooting and offered it to me. Unfortunately I had commitments, I had some commercials to shoot. But anyway I took it over with barely ten days of preparation - which shows. It doesn’t become my picture, it’s a bit inbetween... [Oliver Reed was] scary at first because he was always testing you all the time. Difficult but not as difficult as Klaus Kinski. Because Oliver actually had a sense of humour. I was rather fond of him; he could be tricky but he was quite warm really. He just played games and was rather macho and so on. Klaus Kinski was very cold. The main problem with the film was that the two didn’t get on and they fought like cats. Kinski of course is a fabulous film actor and he’s good in the part, the part suits him very well. They were both well cast but it was a very unhappy film. I think Klaus was the problem but then Oliver spent half the movie just trying to rub him up, pulling his leg all the way. There were shouting matches because Oliver just wouldn’t let up. None of this is about art. All the things that you’re trying to concentrate on tend to slip. So it was not a happy period.[4]


The film was released theatrically in the United States by Paramount Pictures in 1982. It grossed $5,229,643 at the box office.[2]

The film was released on special edition DVD by Blue Underground in 2003.[5]

Critical receptionEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 50% based on 6 reviews with an average rating of 5/10.[6]Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "If Venom doesn't turn out to be the silliest film of 1982, it's a good bet that it will land within a hoot and a holler of that distinction."[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "VENOM (AA)". British Board of Film Classification. 2 February 1982. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Venom". Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  3. ^ Dwight Garner. "Kinski Uncut". Salon Magazine. Retrieved 29 April 2011.[dead link]
  4. ^ Piers Haggard interview, 2003, MJ Simpson accessed 11 April 2014
  5. ^ "Venom". Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  6. ^ "Venom (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  7. ^ Vincent Canby (5 February 1982). "Venom". New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2011.

External linksEdit