Back in the early aughts there was another film called Venom and it wasn’t about a sharp-toothed Symbiote comic book villian. This one took place in the Louisiana Bayou and with Fat Tuesday upon us, I thought I might revisit this Dimension film and I’m glad I did.
Shrouded in voodoo lore and magic spells, Venom follows a group of teenagers who inadvertently become tangled in a local curse which allows an ancient monster named Mr. Jangles to come back to life to terrorize the town.
Jangles is first exposed after a freak car accident releases 13 snakes who enter the body of a local mechanic after they slither out of an old suitcase recently sealed by a now deceased “old-time Creole,” or voodoo priestess.
It’s up to her granddaughter to figure things out, but in doing so she accidentally involves her schoolmates which are dispatched in various ways after Jangles traps them in a secluded house.
Jangles is part Jason Voorhees, part Creeper (he even has his own industrially modified utility vehicle) and partakes in creative ways to off his victims using sand blasters, machetes and tow chains; Jangles is unstoppable.
Venom was released in 2005 at the end of the Kevin Williamson-era of young adult R-rated horror films, just as “torture porn” was being handed the horror baton.
Williamson and wannabes reigned supreme over the industry between ’96 and 2006, with movies such as Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Final Destination, The Faculty, Wrong Turn and yes Venom.
Venom doesn’t stray far from the striplings-in-peril formula: These teenagers with teenage problems are hip, but won’t live long enough to see Tinder, UBEReats or Lyft; they don’t even have smartphones or Wi-fi yet.
Dimension was the gold standard for this type of narrative; they hired beautiful actors, able writers and used genre directors to bring it all together as slick as could be, even creating modern tropes in the process.
Beautifully shot on location in Louisiana, Venom is also a postcard to pre-Katrina devastation that would destroy the landscape the same year of its release.
Although Venom won’t go down in history as one of the better films — it’s not on par with genre changers such as Scream or Final Destination — I think it’s an important one, it sort of wrapped up the Williamson era to usher in new visions from new filmmakers such as James Wan, Jason Blum and Eli Roth.
If you can’t get to Louisiana on Fat Tuesday, bring it to you with Venom. Lucky Amazon Prime members can stream Venom now for free.