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Silent Venom

One disc; 20th Century Fox; $22.98

By Michael S. Gant

First off—the title. Isn't all venom silent? That careless redundancy signals the overall cheesiness of this straight-to-DVD feature that should have been titled Snakes on a Sub. Luke Perry of Beverly Hills 90210 infamy plays a maverick sub commander (he stood up for what he thought was right and got struck down by the brass—isn't that always the way?) given one last assignment: pilot a decommissioned tin can to a remote island to evac some scientists working a secret project. Oh, and the mission has to be done in advance of Chinese naval maneuvers, explains Tom Berenger's expanded-to-Michael-Madsen-dimensions admiral. Unfortunately for all hands aboard, the rescued scientists have brought along their pet project: some mutated snakes with extra-deadly (and, yes, silent) venom. When they aren't playing cat and mouse with a Chinese submarine, Perry and company are racing through narrow corridors and torpedo rooms trying to stay one step ahead of the angry reptiles. Some of the villainous slitherers are real stunt snakes, but some are special effects that are less convincing than Gertie the dinosaur from the early days of movie animation. The lady herpetologist is played by Krista Allen, whose credits include eight, count 'em eight, Emmanuelle soft-core erotica features, which explains her helium-powered baby doll delivery. Mercifully, no extras.

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