Article 5081 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Piers Haggard
Featuring Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson
What it is: Crime thriller with a touch of horror
A trio of criminals plans to kidnap a boy for ransom, but the plan goes awry when the boy (who collects exotic pets) is inadvertently given a deadly poisonous black mamba snake.
For the most part, this is a crime thriller, and plays out like one. The sole horror element is the presence of the black mamba, which brings it into the “scary animals” horror category. Actually, the presence of the snake is the most problematic element here from a story perspective; its very existence has the air of being a deus ex machina in the making, and this somewhat short-circuits the suspense of the basic situation. Nonetheless, I rather enjoyed the movie, thanks in part to some familiar faces (Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed in their only film together, Sterling Hayden and a cameo from Michael Gough). From reading the trivia on IMDB, this movie had a very troubled production; Piers Haggard was pulled in as a replacement for Tobe Hooper, and Reed and KInski didn’t get along at all; Haggard was quoted as saying that the snake was the nicest person on the set. Incidentally, the character played by Michael Gough was based on a real-life reptile expert from the London Zoo who helped with the production. Incidentally, the movie sets itself up for a sequel that never happened.