Picks and Pans Review: Venom

updated 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Catch the ads for this one: "the mystery of The Birds," "the danger of Psycho," "the evil of The Omen," "the terror of Jaws." That's known as the hard sell—and this movie needs it. A young boy living with his rich American parents in London goes to the local pet store to pick up a snake he has ordered. By mistake, he takes a deadly African mamba home in a box. When he gets there, he finds some nasty kidnappers waiting. When one of them accidentally shoots a curious cop, the house is quickly surrounded by Scotland Yard. The only question is, who will collar the bad guys first, the police or the snake, which by this time has been let out of the box. The silly plot wastes a lot of good actors, including Nicol Williamson as the hard-boiled cop trying to smoke the kidnappers out, Klaus Kinski as the menacing kidnapper and Oliver Reed as his trigger-happy sidekick. Susan George is the snake's first victim, and Sterling Hayden is the kindly grandfather trapped in the house with the boy (Lance Holcomb). But the movie really belongs to the snake, which slithers through the heating ducts of the house in search of something to eat. The snake hisses constantly—and intelligent audiences will too. (R)

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