VENUS FLYTRAP – 13 Days of Shot on Video! (#4)

With 13 Days of Shot On Video I’ll be reviewing a new shot-on-video horror film every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.

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I had no idea what to expect going into Venus Flytrap. Not much info exists about it online (no Wikipedia page, a scant IMDB page, and only a handful of horror blogs have reviewed it), and the only reason I happened upon it was because it was included in one of those “buy this group of DVDs together, save this amount of money” type deals when I was adding DVDs to my shopping cart on Amazon. The cover art looked really unique and I don’t think it cost no more than ten bucks, so I thought, what the hell. You only live once, right?

Let me say, I am so happy I took a chance on Venus Flytrap!

Now, I don’t know if it’s my mind warping from watching too much shot-on-video crud back-to-back, but I genuinely like Venus Flytrap and think it’s a really well made, competently acted movie — y’know, by shot-on-video standards. Hell, by shot-on-video standards, this movie is …I don’t know, what’s a good movie? Citizen Kane? Gone with the Wind? Young Einstein?

The movie opens in a record store (something I’ve found with these s.o.v. gems is they either involve a video/record store or the woods in some fashion. If you know someone who works at a video/record store, you can probably shoot in it after hours for free, and as for the woods, well, those are always open and always free); a trio of punks force their way in to rob the owner. They take him to a back room to open the safe, but while they’re back there, they hear some customers come in. The punks leave the owner in the back and go up front to find a couple of rich Muffy types attempting to shoplift. The punks decide to intimidate the rich kids and in the process find out they were planning on heading to a party next. The punks demand to join the festivities, and the group goes back to an apartment where a tiny get-together is already in progress. We learn that the head punk is a bully, his girlfriend is desperate for affection and attention, and the third punk (“Wimpy”) just wants to be accepted. Soon, people start pairing off with each other, and that’s when the night really turns interesting.

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If you haven’t already noticed from my plot description, the movie is very similar to House on the Edge of the Park, Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 Video Nasty. Still, there are enough differences in Venus Flytrap for it to stand on its own.

I’m telling you, I really liked this movie! Besides the solid performances from a bunch of unknown, struggling actors, the movie is shot skillfully by cinematographer Don Knight; he only lensed three movies in his career, one of them being Blue Sunshine — which is another huge favorite of mine. The filmmakers also make great use of beautiful glowing neon signs in several scenes; some soaked in green, others drenched in hot pink. Very ’80s, and I love it. There’s even a epilogue scene that plays under the credits — a fun and adept change in an oftentimes formulaic medium.

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One final thing I wanna point out: while watching the movie, I noticed several moments of overt homophobic behavior from the head punk directed at the impressionable and soft-spoken “Wimpy”. It wasn’t so in my face that it was distracting, but it was definitely there and it made me wonder if the filmmakers were trying to make a statement about something. So afterwards I checked out the film credits on IMDB and found that the writer of Venus Flytrap, Marvin Jones, would later go on to direct a few gay porn films! I then read the insert included with the DVD, and one of the actors from the film, Kevin Glover (who also produced the movie) states that he, too, has read many things online about this movie being homophobic, but that it wasn’t meant to be at all. I just found that bit of info interesting. It’s too bad this group of filmmakers never made anything else of note, because Venus Flytrap shows tons of promise.

I highly, highly recommend this movie! It’s on Amazon for about $12 (you can buy it through the link below) — but even if you don’t want to buy it, at least track down someone who owns it and watch it. I promise you will not be disappointed. Venus Flytrap went from being an unknown ‘maybe’ to becoming one of my Top 3 shot-on-video horror movies!

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