Did watching Venom make you hungry for more – and better – “frenemy within” movies?
If you enjoyed the idea of Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock being taken over by a homicidal alien “loser” obsessed with eating people’s dismembered parts and the Odd Couple dynamic created by Eddie’s attempts to regain control of his faculties in Venom, then you should check out these movies – a mix of horror flicks, comedy classics, and madcap mayhem.
Read on or sift through the slideshow below for 11 movies you “must watch” if you either enjoyed — or tolerated — Venom, especially while we wait for what the post-credits scene sets up for the sequel. Here are some humble suggestions for films to watch that share a lot of what Venom attempted to accomplish.From Jake Gyllenhaal squaring off against a squirmy slug thing from Mars to Edward Norton going toe-to-toe with himself to a rat improving the life of a guy who can’t cook for s***, here are some “Venom”-type movies to consider…
Upgrade is the most similar Venom movie of them all – and it came out this year. Not only does it feature a ruined man finding his life “improved” by an A.I. implant, which allows him to kill people like an expert assassin, but the man is played by the extremely Tom Hardy-esque Logan Marshall-Green. It’s been a modest joke over the years that Marshall-Green – who you’ve seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming and short-lived TV shows like Quarry and Damnation – is a Hardy clone. Here he gets to put both his emotional and physical acting on display as a man who often finds himself at odds with a crazed computer program that can take control of his body – for better or worse. Seriously, Upgrade is worth your time.
THE MASK (1994)
Jim Carrey’s career skyrocketed thanks to both Ace Venture: Pet Detective and this oddball comic book-based adventure (that also introduced the world to Cameron Diaz) about a down-on-his-luck bank clerk who finds an ancient mask created by the Norse god Loki. When applied to his face, the mask gives him the power to… well, do anything his zany brainy can come up with. It just so happens that his inner voice leads him on a warped warpath, exacting vengeance on bullies and unleashing a reckoning upon a local crime lord.
FIGHT CLUB (1999)
You probably won’t find a better example of a dude literally fighting himself – i.e. the dominant alpha personality within him that he mistakes for a separate person – for control of his life, and the welfare of others, than David Fincher’s Fight Club. For the most part, our unnamed protagonist, played by Edward Norton, was more than happy to let Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden take the reins. But in the third act, when Durden’s “Project Mayhem” plans escalate into acts of domestic terrorism, the two personas rage within Norton’s body, duking it out for dominance.
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
Venom director Ruben Fleischer has cited this John Landis classic, which won an Oscar for Best Makeup, as his go-to influence for a perfect blend of horror and comedy. It’s not exactly about a man sharing his body with a separate sentient being, but it is about an American backpacker (David Naughton) who gets turned into a werewolf and has to deal with the murder and chaos he causes come nightfall. Plus, the practical effects used in Naughton’s first wolf transformation were groundbreaking.
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1931)
Naturally, your journey for more (and better) Venom should take you back a century or more to Robert Louis Stevenson’s original “two personalities sharing one body” horror story: Jekyll and Hyde, in which a meek scientist concocts a potion in his lab that inadvertently changes him into a murdering maniac. There’ve been many adaptations of Stevenson’s 1886 novel over the years, but the best one came in 1931 and featured Fredric March as both Dr. Jekyll and his chaotic, conscience-free alter ego Hyde.
You might not immediately think of Paul Verhoeven’s sinister and satirical Robocop as having much in common with Venom, but it’s still about a destroyed man being brought back from the brink by sharing his body with an “other.” Peter Weller’s Alex Murphy must rise above his programming and smothering circuitry to embrace the humanity that still exists within him; the end result being the best of both worlds. An enhanced human law-bringer with the emotional capacity to break from his cyber-chains if the situation calls for it.
THE FLY (1986)
If you’re looking for a little more brutal body horror with your human enhancement, look no further than David Cronenberg’s The Fly, starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. Here, the scientist played by Goldblum, Seth Brundle, doesn’t so much share his body with a sentient double as he finds himself totally transforming into a new type of super-being/monster due to a lab mishap involving a teleporting machine and an errant fly sharing his test run chamber. Brundle may insist that he feels great and that what’s happening to him as “Brundlefly” is an awesome hybrid of human and insect, but mostly he’s just gross.
ALL OF ME (1984)
Shifting genres completely here, Carl Reiner’s All of Me – starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin – is a playful body puppet movie made palatable by Martin’s ingenious comedic acting. It’s the story of a lawyer who discovers that the soul of a recently departed eccentric millionairess has been transferred into his body. Besides being able to hear her thoughts, he’s able to see her in reflections and the two of them bicker up a storm while trying to thwart a plot to murder him in an attempt to kill her soul off once and for all.
Steve Martin’s not the only one who can let loose with hilarious physical comedy stemming from a body being possessed by a hidden alternate. In 1987, Martin’s buddy Martin Short gave it a whirl in Joe Dante’s Innerspace, where Short played a nerdy grocery clerk whose body gets infected with a case of…Dennis Quaid? Yes, in this case Quaid is a microscopic aviator inside a submersible pod who gets accidentally injected into Short. Navigating his craft through Short’s body, the two converse, argue, and – yes – even battle for control while evading hitmen and various dangers involved with the business of shrinking a human and putting that tiny human into another human.
This 2017 space horror hunkfest, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, is Venom if Venom was just straight scary and the alien symbiotes never touched down on Earth (or do they???). If you were looking for some creepy close-quarters craziness involving a hostile, predatory Martian fungus blob that yearns to feed off everything in its sight then give Life a spin.
Hapless hero? Check. An unexpected hidden helper obsessed with food? Yup. A woman who starts to fall for the hero once she learns of his particular predicament? Sure. Also, never forget that Remy the Rat tugs Linguini around like a marionette puppet, allowing Linguini to whip up culinary delights like never before. Definitely an upgrade.
For more on Venom, check out our review as well as our breakdown of all the Easter eggs and the ending and post-credits scenes. You should also check out what director Ruben Fleischer told us about saving Carnage for Venom 2 and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man not being in the movie.
Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA). Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.