Venom (1971) Twilight Time Blu-ray Review



There’s something to say about Venom with its beauty and far-out approach to familiar tropes of the genre.


A photographer gets waylaid in a small community near a forest when he takes a photograph of a beautiful young woman … who has a connection to spiders.



The small community near Spitzwold Forest in a rural region of the UK is host to a superstitious and secretive group of people who don’t take kindly to strangers. When a handsome photographer named Paul (Simon Brent) drives through and stops on the side of the road to venture into the forest, he sees a pretty young woman named Anna (Neda Arneric) frolicking by herself. He goes to take her photograph, which deeply upsets her, and causes him to land on the nearby community’s radar. When the folks at the tavern realize Paul took a picture of the strange girl in the woods, they immediately turn against him and demand that he return the photograph and destroy it, putting him in the crosshairs of everyone around him. What’s going on here? Anna has a connection to a mad scientist (a former Nazi) who lives in a lab in the woods, and his experiments (Anna might be his greatest experiment of all) involve the poisonous venom of spiders and the nearby community is well aware to steer clear of him and Anna. With Paul meddling in the community’s business with unwarranted attention, he becomes a target – not just from the shotgun-toting villagers, but of the Nazi scientist and Anna, who seems to be under his command.


Very loosely scripted with whole sections featuring no dialogue, the less-than-90 minute scenic horror picture Venom resembles a Hammer horror film with its attractive locales, pretty women (some of whom appear nude in several scenes), and an overall sense of weird horror elements, this one revolving around arachnids. Filmmaker Peter Sykes – who later directed some Hammer films – gave the film a distinct style, and yet the movie has a too-loose quality that betrays its ultra thrifty budget and ambition. Sometimes the movie is gorgeous, while other times the film feels like a kid was handling the camera, and the movie works best when it’s concentrating on the oddness of the plot. When the film meanders and forgets that it’s trying to tell a story, the film flounders and becomes baffling and a little boring. Still, there’s something to say about Venom with its beauty and far-out approach to familiar tropes of the genre.


Twilight Time put out a limited edition Blu-ray of Venom back in 2021, and the transfer is rich in its restored state. It comes with an insert booklet about the film, which was a welcome read after I watched the movie.