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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Visually Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Dolby Digital trailer
Venomous (Rental)
Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

I wasn't expecting much from this rental only (so far) release and I wasn't disappointed, and at best, Venomous can be described as 'lame’. Aside from the basic plot that has been done before, and better, there is little in this film to reward viewers who manage to stick it out to the end, but neither does it belong in the 'so-bad-it's-good' category.

The film's opening is set ten years ago, at the Mojave Research and Development Center in the Mojave Desert where rattlesnakes are being bred, but these are 'no ordinary snakes. These serpents have been mutated to carry a virus and are to be dumped in Iraq of all places, in what could be considered an ironic twist. The idea is that they are to be unleashed to infect and wipe out Saddam's forces. This doesn't eventuate, as the base is infiltrated and blown up by terrorists, but several of the super snakes manage to escape.

The film jumps to the present, to a small Californian town that is being rocked by earth tremors. These tremors have stirred up the local rattlesnake population, and they begin to bite a few residents who then become sick and die. A 'new' virus is pinpointed as the cause, but the military becomes alerted and seals off the town. The residents continue to get cark it, the army charges around town, and the hospital tries to find an antidote.

With the town about to be wiped out by the military in an attempt to end the situation, several key characters become infected, and the race is on to find the antidote quick smart.

So far this may sound okay, but it really is quite a hole-ridden plot. Apart from the fact that snakes are not naturally aggressive and do not seek out humans and attack them, and neither can they climb ladders or walls, there is the predictable sub-plot of two ex-lovers thrown together at a time of great drama, which ultimately fuels their long-dead love. Clichéd characters abound. The hospital doctors drop more medical clichés than the doctors on General Hospital, the military generals are all puffing on cigars and saluting anything that moves, and much of the dialogue appears to be written by a 12 year old.

The acting from the no-name cast varies from quite good to pretty average, and the snakes will win acting awards before many of the cast. The direction is decidedly average, and there is no real build up of tension or drama. The whole thing is a little predictable, and as said, has been done before, and better; the film Outbreak springs to mind, for one.

This is not really a film you can grab for the kids either due to the violence and occasional strong language. Horror buffs will be very disappointed as it is not exactly meant to scare, and those that love films that are so bad they are actually good will not find joy with Venomous either. It's difficult to suggest who would enjoy this film and perhaps the best advice is to give it a miss. There are a number of better films to spend your dollars on.

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

Naturally enough, being a recent film, and not a very good one at that, the actual transfer is quite good. Venomous is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16:9 enhanced. The picture is quite sharp with good detail and clarity. Colours are strong and natural and exhibit no problems with bleeding or chroma noise. There is no grain, other than for the stock footage of a stealth bomber, and shadow detail is also very good.

There are no MPEG artefacts such as shimmer, but there are a number of white flecks that manage to pop up quite regularly throughout the film. There are also a few black spots, but these are nowhere near as numerous.

There is no layer change, and the English subtitles for the hearing impaired are generally accurate.

The only option sonically is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and it does an adequate job. Most of the sound is placed in the front speakers, with some minimal panning and separation of sound. The rear channels are used for some ambient sounds, but little else. The score makes some use of the rear channels, and while the low-level sounds are quite good and deep within the musical score, the few large explosions are rather quiet and not what is typical of large explosions in 5.1 audio. There just doesn't seem to be any 'oomph' to them.

All dialogue is clear and audible, and placed mostly in the centre speaker. There is the occasional voice heard left or right of centre, to indicate direction. There are no problems with synchronisation.

The only extra included is the full frame, Dolby Digital 2.0 Theatrical Trailer lasting 1:26, which represents the film as a being a little more action-packed and better than it actually is. Typical, really.

"Been there, seen that" might be the best way to summarise Venomous. It is not a new idea, the notion of a deadly virus being spread by snakes, rats, spiders, polar bears or whatever, but it has been done better. This is not a bad film per se, it just doesn't have a lot to recommend it either. There are no extras to speak of, and although the video and audio is more than adequate, discerning viewers will want more than that.


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  •   And I quote...
    "This film bites..."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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