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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Venomous (2001)

"OK, here's what we've got. It travels through the bloodstream so quickly that an infected person is contagious within minutes. We don't know how it spreads."
- Dr. Henning (Treat Williams)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: January 17, 2002

Stars: Treat Williams Hannes Jaenicke, Mary Page Keller
Other Stars: Geoff Pierson, Catherine Dent, Tony Denison, Mark McClure
Director: Edward Raymond

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and brief language
Run Time: 01h:37m:06s
Release Date: January 22, 2002
UPC: 024543033233
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+A-B- B-

DVD Review

Venomous is a campy, but well made throwback to those marauding beastie flicks of days gone by, when any manner of frogs, spiders, bats, birds or rats were set loose on humanity, or at the very least an isolated community somewhere, with predictably deadly results. Here it's rattlesnakes, not surprisingly, and prolific B-director Fred Olen Ray (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers), here billing himself as Edward Raymond, has added elements of the contagious virus genre within what is essentially a snakes-on-the-loose movie that is noticeably goreless and loaded with wonderfully corny dialogue.As we learn in the pre-title sequence, a secret military research lab, somewhere deep in the California desert, has been doing some radical genetic experiments on rattlesnakes, apparently as some type of secret weapon. What's being done exactly is never made entirely clear, but a pair of terrorists blow the place off it's foundation with a satchel full of plastic explosives, and in the process unwittingly release the snakes into the wild.The story then jumps ahead 10 years to the sleepy California desert town of Santa Mira Springs, as it is rocked by a series of minor earthquakes. The quakes are jarring enough to spook those same long-lost, genetically altered snakes from their hidey hole deep underground, and they are really pissed about being disturbed. In the Venomous world, being bit by a snake infects that individual with some type of mysterious and fatal virus, but it also makes that person a walking contagion. As the population of the tiny town succumbs to the deadly plague, it is up to a pair of local doctors (Treat Williams and Hannes Jaenicke) and the head of viral research at The Department Of Defense (Mary Page Keller), who just happens to be the ex-wife of Williams' Dr. Henning, to stop the disease before the military nukes the town, and everyone in it.Admittedly a low-budget project, Venomous never looks like too much of a cheapo, and it features another very strong example of the effective cinematography of Andrea Rossotto (Kari Wuhrer Poison). Rossotto has a habit of making smaller films look quite good, and here helps to give director Ray/Raymond a finished product that is far better than the script would seem to allow, and as a result gives this B-grade virus/snake movie the look and feel of a more substantial film.I've always enjoyed Treat Williams (remember Prince Of The City?), and here he gives another one of those easy and relaxed performances that seem so natural for him. He seems to have made the transition to B-movie lead without much trouble, and delivers some genuinely silly lines of dialogue without an overt amount of smirking. The likeable Mary Page Keller (Duet) and Hannes Jaenicke are a nice compliment as the other heroic leads, though Keller spends a lot of time looking through a microscope and is forced utter a typically clichéd and obligatory near-death line that is a real eye-roller. The requisite amount of scenery chewing is supplied by the conspiratorial military, most notably General Sparks (Tony Denison) and General Manchek (Geoff Pierson). A movie like this cries out for nasty villains, other than the snakes, and Denison and Pierson are suitably gruff and heartless in their roles.To paraphrase from The Wizard Of Oz:Viruses, snakes and death, oh my...

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: A beauty. Fox's 1.85:1 widescreen non-anamorphic transfer looks terrific, with a rich, vibrant color palette. The image itself is far more crisp and sharp than most low-budget films, and this disc looks consistently brighter and has more detail than I would have anticipated. The source print is evidently very clean, with no noticeable flaws. Between d.p. Rossotto and Fox, Venomous looks excellent.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: There are two English audio tracks here, in 5.1 and 2.0. The 5.1 mix never completely succeeds to make full use of all available channels, and despite some helicopters whirring about overhead at times, or an occasional vehicle, the rears are used infrequently. When all channels are involved, the 5.1 mix works very well. Directional imaging across the front speakers is noticeable, but not entirely consistent throughout the film, either. Neal Acree's original score sounds large and threatening, and both the 5.1 and 2.0 tracks convey that effect nicely.A 2.0 French mix is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Fred Olen Ray
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Fred Olen Ray's scene-specific commentary track suffers from very poor sound levels, and it seems that the mike was about 30 feet from his mouth when it was recorded. That, combined with his very quiet speaking voice, require the viewer to crank the volume a bit. Just make sure you keep the remote handy, because when he stops talking (which is fairly often) the movie volume is subsequently blaring. As for content, Ray isn't shy about admitting the low-budget limitations he was under, and he spends a lot of time discussing numerous camera shots he employed in an attempt to liven things up. There is much talk about the various types of snakes used, and much of that is pretty darn interesting. He also contributes a couple of funny production anecdotes about the backlot "town" set that made me wish there was a deleted scenes section on this disc. The rest of the supplementals include filmographies, a 12 image photo gallery (who really looks at these things?), subtitles (English and Spanish), and 20 chapters.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Venomous reminded me of a good, mindless movie-of-the-week, with it's heady mix of a deadly virus, rattlesnakes, and government cover-ups. Not too heavy to tax your brain after a long day, this one provides a steady diet of low-key escapism and a few chuckles.

 


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