Review – The Oddest Odd Couple Ever (“Venom: Let There Be Carnage”)

San Francisco’s own crack investigative reporter, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), and his murderously hungry alien symbiote host, Venom, are back! This time around, as teased in the last movie, Eddie & Venom go up against another deadly alien symbiote, a big red one called Carnage!

Picking up from events of the 2018 film, Eddie Brock and his inner demon, Venom, are still trying to get along, but definitely need couples counseling, especially with Venom being the smarter of the two and proving it all the time. Meanwhile, serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) wants to see Eddie as a last request and, thanks to Venom, Cletus get a one-way ticket to death row. As a going-away gift, Cletus gives Eddie a savage bite on the hand and some of Eddie’s symbiotic-infused blood mixes with Kasady’s and badda-bing, badda-boom, a new symbiote is born! But THIS one is twice as big, red, more powerful, and totally evil! Uh-oh!

Once Cletus breaks out of prison, he tracks down his childhood sweetheart, an imprisoned mutant with lethal sonic-voice powers (like The Arrow‘s Black Canary). Her name is Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris), but she goes by Shriek. After breaking her out of the Ravencroft Institute, Cletus and his symbiote (who goes by Carnage) go on a killing spree. Shriek wants to kill police Det. Mulligan (Stephen Graham) who tried to kill her once, and Cletus/Carnage wants to destroy Eddie/Venom. Problem is, Eddie and Venom had a lovers spat and have separated, leaving the gooey black symbiotic mass to latch onto anyone he can find.

Look like it’s up to Eddie’s ex-girlfriend, Anne (Michelle Williams) and her reluctant fiance, Dr. Dan Lewis (Reid Scott), to track down Venom and get him back into Eddie’s body so the incredible third act fight scene can happen, and hoo-boy! It’s worth the wait! Thankfully, this time around the script is shorter, leaner, and gets down to the nitty-gritty quicker than the first film. Only Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks) is back from 2018 as the lone screenwriter and that’s a good thing! She delivers a nice one-two punch with loads of action, a hefty amount of big laughs, and snappier dialogue than the original. Okay, so there are some major plot holes and bumps along the way, but it’s a solid sequel and way too much fun to overlook.

Director Andy Serkis, the master of mo-cap and a helluva actor himself, proves he’s no slouch when it comes to directing an action piece. He knows how to inject pure energy in his camerawork and, like Sam Raimi, leaves very little to waste. Tom Hardy has slipped into this role with the comfort of an old shoe, making his duo-personality look easy and Williams has more fun this time around.

But it’s Harrelson & Harris that steal the movie with their combined lunacy. Woody is about as nutty and batspit crazy as a Natural Born Killer, while Naomi is deliciously twisted. I really wanted to see more of her character, but alas, twas not to be. Will there be a part three? If the mid-credits credits have anything to say about it, you bet there will be. I just hope Disney and Sony can iron out their petty squabbles over who owns what.

**Now playing only in theaters

Parasite (1982)

NOT to be confused with the Oscar-winning 2019 Korean film, Parasite, this deliciously awful B-movie and “it’s in 3-D!” gimmick had someone very special in the cast. . . a young Demi Moore! Oh well, we all gotta start somewhere, right?

Dr. Paul Dean (Robert Glaudini–looking like if Jeff Goldblum and William Fichtner had a kid) is having a really, really bad day. Besides living in a post-apocalyptic New York, this guy has a nasty parasite living inside him. Ouch! Y’see, Paul has been hired by the ‘new’ government to make this parasite by the Merchants (the new ruling class) to take over the common folk. On the run from the Merchants, Paul has only two of the last remaining critters alive. . . one inside of him, and the other inside a large Thermos jug. While trying to figure out how to kill the one inside his belly, he stops off at a run-down roadside motel & diner to re-group and experiment.

There he meets the sex-starved innkeeper, Miss Daley (Vivian Blaine) and kindly Collins (Al Fann), the cook. But his short-lived complacency is interrupted by a street gang of weirdo punks, lead by runway-model Ricus (Luca Bercovici–looking like a young, flowing-haired Ted Danson). Naturally, Paul is hassled & harassed by Ricus and his gang, but saved by the street-smart Patricia Welles (Moore), who seems to be the only sane person in this nutty town. Things turn ugly when Ricus steals Paul’s Thermos and lets loose the second parasite onto Zeke (Tom Villard), his gang buddy. Oooo! Big mistake! That little parasite soon grows, sprouts nasty teeth, kills Zeke, and then goes after Ricus’ girl!!

Meanwhile, a heartless Merchant named Wolf (James Davidson) has entered town (driving a nice black Lamborghini, no less!) and is hunting for the whereabouts of Dr. Dean, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. By the second act, the tables have turned, and Ricus and his gang are now the protagonists, desperately seeking help for their fallen comrade and that gigantic, murderous worm-thingy. Luckily, Paul has figured out a way to kill the parasite with sound waves, but will he get a chance now that Wolf has found him?!

Yeah, this is one dumb movie! Shot in just three weeks (!!!!), Demi Moore has gone on record as saying this was “the worse movie I’ve ever done!”. A horrible, stupid, and laughably slow script by Michael Shoob (Driven), Alan J. Adler (The Alchemist), and Frank Levering (his only screenplay ever), this is one of those movies ripped apart by Rifftrax or MST3K. It’s badly acted, has terrible dialogue, stuff flies at the camera because it’s a 3-D movie, and it’s directed by the prolific B-movie master, Charles Band, who had a career making schlocky, low-budget films, like his Puppet Master franchise. The only thing of worth are the SPFX done by Stan Winston and Co. At least they’re pretty decent! LOL!       

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