I also want to give this one some credit for not being a one note script lamely wrapped around the plot of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Far be it from me to drool praise upon a movie for simply "not being as bad as it could have been". Especially because... well... Venom sucks. It's got more clichés than a Jay Leno monologue and more moments of self-destructive illogic than a Republican Party campaign promise. If we take three steps back and throw a magnifying glass on this whole shebang, we see a little more clearly what this film really is: A victim of the Disney/ Weinstein breakup... which made slightly less news than "Bennifer" did. Sigh. On top of the involvement of the Weinsteins on this Dimension Film, we also see the production credit of Kevin "Scream" Williamson and the directed by credit of Jim "I Know What You Did Last Summer" Gillespie. In spite of these names (not that these names mean a whole butt-load anymore) Venom is coated with evidence of budget cuts and shelving threats, especially in the sticky and greasy post production, featuring computer animation that comes off almost as convincing as the third time Johnny Carson said "I do!" Under funded and under advertised, the only way I even knew the damned thing was coming out was because a friend of mine emailed me a link to the Quicktime trailer in an email with the subject "Stan Lee should Sue!" Let's hope Gulager's Feast gets a better unveiling.
The plot of Venom, such that it is, surrounds a small Louisiana town's finest young teens, whose ambitions in life include getting the eff you see kay out of small Louisiana towns (sounds like me). They're just in between High School and College, and are thusly young enough to be incredibly hot, but still old enough for the lonely dudes in the audience to not feel too guilty for thinking they're incredibly hot. Who are we talking about? Hotties like, WOW, Laura Ramsey's Rachel, INCREDIBLE, Meagan Good's Cece and, OH MY HEAVENS, Bijou Phillips' Tammy! While they're stuffing their faces with fried food and moaning about College, a voodoo priestess named "Miss Emmie" (Deborah Duke), not coincidentally, Cece's Grandmother, digs up an old suitcase full of Weinstein Memories... oh, hell, I mean the evil of the souls she's saved. Sadly, through a series of incredible coincidences, her mystical Voodoomobile (an 80's model sedan) proves it's not in the "good hands" of a "good neighbor" and kills her deader than Al Gore's voice. Even worse, the aftermath of the accident, coupled with the now-open Haunted Suitcase(!), kills the town loser (Rick Cramer's Ray Sawyer), infecting his corpse with the sins of a thousand psychopaths.
By now, you can guess he's comin' back as a Zombie. Sure he's a water-logged, snake-Man Zombie, but he's a big badass voodoo zombie nonetheless! And from there, you've seen most of the rest of this flick before. From the GQ kids just dying to get back together, to the "LAST TEEN STANDING" motif that just won't quit, no matter how many silly horror films beat said motif to death with a rotten, petrified mastodon tusk. No teenager, no matter how hot, no cop no matter how corrupt and no stolen plot point, no matter how familiar, could possibly stand a chance against the resurrected corpse of ol' Ray Sawyer, his slashing crow bar, and his... uh... driving truck.
On top of everything else writers Flint Dille, John Zuur Platten and Brandon Boyce borrowed to make Venom, it's pretty horkin' obvious from the way old Zombie Ray drives around the Parish in a big, fat, creepy towing truck, that one, or all three of these clowns must have rented Jeepers Creepers while they were at it. And here, all I, and the other seven people who saw an ad for Venom, thought they'd be ripping off was that darlin', morphin' Spidey villain of the same name. What're they planning to call the sequel? Carnage? Hobgoblin? J. Jonah Jameson?
I have to tell you, though... while most bad movies piss me off and fill me with a rage to match the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, this one actually didn't. For one thing, there was potential here, possibly assassinated by the dead Disney deal. There was enough promise here to make me feel bad for the actors, especially leads Agnes Bruckner and Jonathan Jackson, who do their best with the material they've got. Also, this movie has much more right to the claim of "Zombie Film" than most of the walking undead hoard flicks do. Yet they don't use that to cash in. What's more, it's refreshing to see enough differences between this film and the usual gang of horror idiots that have cropped up here like fresh stalks of pot. Yeah, it's derivative, but the voodoo subplot is pretty cool. There is the occasional part that pumps up the scary and in one or two places, the film manages to become riveting. Too bad it's just a sprinkle of wine in the gassy swamp that is Venom. Folks, "not as bad as I thought it would be" does not a good review make!
There are more missed opportunities, bad choices, illogical logic and unexplained goof-ball phenomena here to fill up an entire X-Files Fan Fiction Site (which explains the brief cameo of James Pickens Jr., Director Kersh from that show). Further, Venom can't decide what the hell it's doing. Is this the reainimated corpse of Ray acting out the evils of the madmen that reanimate it, or is this Ray taking revenge on a town that hated him? We don't know... and, after a while, we just don't care. When you see enough stacked dominoes that don't fall, you stop expecting them to. It's the same old slasher formula of creative kill after creative kill after creative kill, avoiding the singular purpose of the killer's mission until the plot thinks it's convenient. Hell, he even kills rapper Method Man in the early stages of his rampage. Must've seen that lame Fox sitcom Method and Red he was on.
For those in the mood for an honest to goodness "B-Movie", this is it! While it is yet another pilfered slasher movie, and rarely terribly scary, it's sort of fun, eh? However, it's time for the makers of these crap movies to realize that there is a formula to these "B-Movies", and if you're going to be formulaic anyway, follow it! Seriously, if I'm drooling out my eight bucks and sitting through the same flick I paid eight bucks to see already, you'd better give me some nudity for my trouble. In spite of all this, I did sort of like Venom, in the same way one might like a TV movie about "Bennifer". As much as I liked it, and as much as I'd really like to give Venom more than Two Stars out of Five, I... can't. I... I just... I can't! It... it really is... quite, quite bad. Oh, shut up, Venom, you'll take your Two Stars out of Five and you'll like it! You're lucky you didn't get a Dog, you ungrateful... Sigh. Okay, seriously, after House of Whacks, The Skeleton Key, Cursed and this thing, I'm really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really in the mood for something completely different! Anybody hear anything about Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis? I don't know much about it, of course, but from what I've seen so far, no one has ever done anything like that before! Yeah! I can hardly wait! See you in that next snake-bitten and flesh ripped reel, Cher!
I want to see every chick in this movie naked. I wouldn't even be too upset if I saw CeCe's Grandma in the buff!
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