As technology advances there are many fears that come with this advancement, however one universal positive is that forgotten pictures from the past are being re-introduced to the market thanks to DVD and Blu-ray discs. Some end up finding a whole new audience, others merely leave obscurity for a short while before returning there, and others just stay in their little curio corners. You might say the latter could apply to this DVD release of Peter Sykes’ 1971 horror film Venom (also known as The Legend of Spider Forest). Despite sounding like another in the highly populated 'nature attacks' genre, the focus of this unusual offering is on arachnids, mad scientists and baffling plots and not big ass snakes… sadly.
Venom tells the story of young artist Paul Greville (Simon Brent) holidaying in a remote region of Bavaria, however his peaceful trip soon turns into something more nightmarish as he encounters a strange woman (Neda Aneric) surrounded by mystery and more seems to be going on in this small community than meets the eye. The strangest thing about this discombobulating mash of ideas, genres and images is that while in many ways a terrible film it is certainly not uninteresting. From the opening green-tinted sex and death scene to a ludicrous last minute dose of transvestism (that is so laughably spontaneous it feels like someone in the crew mentioned Psycho so they threw it in), this horror makes not a lick of sense. Building initially as a Wicker Man-like folklore horror surrounding local legends of a “Spider Goddess” before becoming a mad scientist flick, Venom is less a film more a group of ideas glued together.
There are some flourishes of creepy mystique within this curious offering but come the end of it you are more puzzled than frightened. Assorted sex scenes, hairy spiders, whippings and vacant-faced females populate a film that narratively gets lost and eventually ends up as a truly bizarre viewing experience. At times Venom feels like a naff video oddity, and in all fairness those of you with kooky tastes will probably dig the film’s dizzyingly trippy vibe. The acting is stilted, with some campy vibes being visible in scenes that are probably meant to be menacing. Still, Brent is not bad in the lead and Aneric gives a weirdly hypnotic performance as the film’s enigmatic female figure.
All in all it is hard to summarise ones feelings about a film as odd as this. There are films out there that are weirder and there are films out there that are better, but few other films casually abandon logic as this one does. Plots come and go at random in Venom and all of them amount to pretty much nothing by the end of this head scratchingly silly cheap B-movie. The picture quality, repetitive score and unfocused direction all place the film in its era, and while this DVD does give us chance to see a forgotten curio, perhaps there is a reason this one was forgotten. Odd, not boring though, just nonsensically odd, silly and laughably straight-faced with its ridiculous content. Wanting logic? Then you might want to pick another poison.
Special Features: None
DVD REVIEW: VENOM/ CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PETER SYKES / SCREENPLAY: DEREK FORD, DONALD FORD / STARRING: SIMON BRENT, NEDA ANERIC, SHEILA ALLEN, DEREK NEWARK / RELEASE DATE: JULY 6TH
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10