Fred Olen Ray, director of B-movies beyond counting, strikes again, with a DVD release some steps up from what many movies of this type receive.
In 1991, Iraqi agents blow up a secret US government lab, releasing genetically modified rattlesnakes (don’t ask). Over the years, these snakes breed, and in the present, minor earthquakes drive them to the surface, and they infect whoever they bite with a virulently fatal virus. Treat Williams is the small town doctor who must save the day, while…renegade Generals try to cover up the traces of their evil experiment, no matter what the cost.
It’s a little movie. It’s no classic. But in the spirit of lively B pictures, it’s fairly slick, and provides a decent amount of fun.
Though decent, there is some definite room for improvement in the sound department. The rear sound effects are way down in the mix, and an explosion at the beginning of the film is almost completely wasted. As the film goes on, the rear volume seems to climb, but the effects are never exactly stupendous. Even the music could do with some pumping up. There are also one or two instances of buzz on the dialogue. All in all, workmanlike, but far from impressive.
The video transfer is somewhat better than the sound. The colours are good (though they could be brighter) and the blacks are solid. There is some grain visible too. On the other hand, the film’s 1.85:1 ratio is preserved, and I’ve seen so many B-pictures manhandled recently that seeing the movie this way was a special treat. Thank you, Fox.
Venomous has one snazzy menu, at least on the main page: music pounds and scenes from the film flash by against a scaly background. The other pages are silent and still, but the look is preserved. The bonus features are a photo gallery (without titles); filmographies of director “Ed Raymond” (Fred Olen Ray), Treat Williams, Mary Page Keller, Hannes Jaenicke and Catherine Dent; the trailer (in 1.33:1), and a director’s commentary. And this commentary is fabulous. Ray is deadpan, informative, and hysterically funny. He has no illusions about the kind of film he has made, and he knows you don’t either. He’s there to have a good time with you, but he is also has a lot of great info to impart, be it the in-joke casting or how to work with snakes. This is one of the best commentaries I have heard in ages.
This was a very pleasant surprise: a little film packaged with a certain respect.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Director and Cast Filmographies
- Photo Gallery