MOVIE: Silent Venom (2008)

I have a thing for submarine movies.  I’ve loved them ever since the first time I saw Das Boot, which was about fifteen years ago.   It was the director’s cut, so it was, of course, about 87,000 hours long (give or take, though not by much), and it was playing in Seattle at a local theater with surround sound.  I don’t remember anything about the time of year, the time of day, or even who I went with, but I do remember that seeing that movie in a small, dark theater with surround-sound-generated drips and pings coming from all sides made for one of the most thoroughly claustrophobic experiences of my life.  And also, hands-down, one of the most utterly exhilarating ones too.

I would not go so far as to say that the 86 minutes spent watching Silent Venom were anywhere near as insanely great.  HOWEVER, despite the fact I can’t stop calling this movie Snakes on a Sub and then yelling out things like, “I’m tired of these mother-f*cking snakes on this mother-f*cking sub!” to my own inane amusement, this movie wasn’t half bad.

(Well, wait.  Now that I think about it, maybe it was, in fact, exactly half bad, as that would sort of suggest it was also kind of half good.   That sounds about right, as long as your standards for “half good” aren’t very high.)

The story opens with Dr. Andrea Swanson (Krista Allen) and her assistant Jake Golden (Louis Mandylor, who looks like a poor man’s version of his brother Costas but is actually the better actor, if you ask me) hanging out on an island in the Far East doing scientific experiments on the local region’s deadly vipers.

When a couple of the killer snakes get loose and take out some of the locals, the two are ordered to pack up their stuff and wait by the beach for rescue.  Dr. Swanson tells Jake to kill all the snakes except for the two that have been genetically altered, but, smelling money to be made from snake-o-philes, Jake instead packs all the vipers up and smuggles them down to the beach with the rest of their stuff.

Sent to pick them up is a military sub, captained by Lt. Comdr. James O’Neill (Luke Perry!), who is on one last mission before he retires to go spend more time with his family.  Dr. Swanson and Jake load all their equipment — and the badly-secured containers of smuggled snakes — on board the vessel, and away they go.

As he organizes their equipment in the cargo bay, Jake becomes more and more concerned that his secret might get found out.  So, he makes the brilliant decision to pull aside two young sailors and say pointedly and with much stern seriousness, “Whatever you do, DON’T OPEN THESE CASES BECAUSE THEY ARE CLASSIFIED.”   Might as well put a big red button on the wall and label it, “DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON OR ELSE!  NO SERIOUSLY, DON’T!”  Because, of course, the minute Jake is out of the room, those dumb kids hit that metaphoric red button with everything they’ve got.  They uncover the first crate they can get their hands on, bust open the lock, and with hisses, growls (yep, the snakes in this movie growl!), and slithers, out come a whooooole lotta cranky reptiles.

From there, the movie moves forward in a fairly predictable manner.  The crew can’t call for help or race to the nearest shore because they’re also being stalked by a Chinese sub and are on silent running (no engines, in other words).  But meanwhile, lots of poor souls on board are being nom-nom-nom’d by deadly vipers.  The Lt. Comdr. and the Dr. team up to try to brainstorm some ways to corral the snakes (and even have a brilliant idea at one point regarding the strategic use of the ship’s heating system — an idea they promptly blow, of course, because they can’t exactly be catching all the snakes 20 minutes into their 86 minute movie).  But the battle gets a little more complicated when the two genetically altered snakes, which have been doubling in size at random intervals and are now INSANELY ENORMOUS, also bust out of their boxes and begin devouring ensigns left and right.  And whole.

If this is a movie that sounds like fun to you, you’re probably going to like it.  The acting is not terrible (except for Tom Berenger, who can’t help it), the story is often hilariously ridiculous (I loved how many scenes in this movie involved someone standing/sitting somewhere completely unaware of the fact a dozen snakes were slithering on and around their feet — apparently, people on submarines never look down), and I’ll be damned if Luke Perry doesn’t look darned good in a Navy uniform.

As far as submarine movies go, you could do a lot better.   But as far as good-bad snakes movies go, you could certainly do much worse (Python 2, anyone?).   Recommended to all fans of the snakes-on-a-vehicle genre.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Horror, Monsters
Cast:  Luke Perry, Krista Allen, Tom Berenger

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3 Responses to “MOVIE: Silent Venom (2008)”

  1. Liz Says:

    Hah! “Snakes-on-a-vehicle genre!” I love it! I just saw – and was bored by – “Snakes on a Plane” – on TV(!), which may account for one reason why I was bored with it. But this movie does sound like fun – so what does that make me??

    BTW, Tom Berenger isn’t THAT bad (did you see “Major League?)! I actually like him more than Luke Perry!

  2. shaksatak Says:

    please email how 2 watch movies

  3. megwood Says:

    Step one: Rent movie.
    Step two: Put movie in machine.
    Step three: Get snacks.
    Step four: Turn on machine.

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