Venom‘s horror credentials recently took a bit of a whack when the film was revealed to be targeting a PG-13 rating. Word is that the pic originally aimed for an R (which fits with the gory reports of the footage screened at Comic-Con), but Sony executives decided that their nascent cinematic universe would be better served by a more kid-friendly release. Undoubtedly, this is a disappointment to horror fans who were hoping that the brain-munching alien symbiote might mark a rare horror-themed adult entry into the busy superhero genre.
That means it’s a slight relief to see director Ruben Fleischer listing some of the inspirations he had in mind while making Venom. First and foremost is John Landis’ stone-cold 1981 classic An American Werewolf in London. That film’s a perfectly pitched mix of horror and comedy, both understanding the ridiculousness of a tourist cursed with a lycanthropic transformation in the middle of London and unafraid to get genuinely terrifying and morose.
Given the transformational elements of Venom, I suspect that American Werewolf‘s most famous scene played a big part in Fleischer’s thinking. This is the iconic Rick Baker transformation scene, which remains to this day a hugely impressive achievement in makeup and practical effects. If you haven’t seen it, check it out right now!
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The second influence he mentions is a bit more obvious: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It should be pretty clear what relevance a guy turning into a monstrous version of himself who can realize his darkest and most violent impulses has on the character of Venom. But in case you haven’t caught on, Fleischer lays it out as so.
“He’s the real Hyde, he’ll rip somebody’s head off and eat their brains. There’s this forbidden-fruit quality of this guy who will just do whatever he wants.”
While I can’t deny I’m a bit bummed out that Venom won’t be R-rated, at least Fleischer seems to have his influences in all the right places. And anyways, there’ll definitely be an uncut version on the Blu-ray/DVD, right?
Source: USA Today