Fair Game (1988)
By: Devon B. on November 20, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Image Entertainment (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 81 minutes
The Movie
Director: Mario Orfini
Starring: Trudie Styler, Gregg Henry, Bill Moseley
Screenplay: Lidia Ravera, Mario Orfini
Music:Giorgio Moroder
Country: Italy
AKA: Mamba
At the tender age of as young as I can remember, I held a fear deep in my soul. It was not a logical fear, by any means, but I was still scared. Despite living in a region completely free of poisonous snakes, I was terrified one would come into my room one night, crawl up in my bedding, and bite me. My first solution to this was to wrap my feet in an extra blanket, or create a blanket barrier between the foot of the bed and me. I guess the logic behind this was that while a snake might crawl under my top blanket, it would be completely befuddled by a second one IN the bed. Eventually I upped the security in the form of my German Shepard, Rita. I would try and position her on the bed between me and any nasty reptiles that might teleport into my room from Africa and go after my feet. I felt safer, but man, my bed stunk.

Naturally, I outgrew this paranoia as I got older, but one night in my early double digits, everyone in my family was gone. A high school reunion had called away the only family member even in the same region as me, and that person didn't get home till after 3:00 a.m. Being able to watch whatever I wanted on the pay channels, I recklessly careened through hours of things I shouldn't have been viewing. And then I hit Fair Game. 1:00 in the morning. A movie that played off of the one thing I'd always irrationally feared. Of course, I had to watch.

Years later, I happened to read Venom, and became obsessed with seeing the film adaptation as well as seeing Fair Game again. Trouble was, I'd forgotten Fair Game's title, so it took some researching to find it. Seriously, though, Fair Game? The 'game' isn't fair, it's highly rigged. Plus, that title makes it sound like the sort of dumb action movie Cindy Crawford would star in. It shoulda had a name revolving around the snake, like it should have been called Mamba, or something. Oh, wait, it was called Mamba, but some idiot renamed it. Jerk.

Fair Game is about Mrs. Sting leaving her bastard of a husband. He doesn't cope well with the split, and decides that to get even he'll lock her in her new flat with a highly venomous Mamba snake. But just locking her up with one of the world's deadliest snakes isn't enough, he also injects the reptile with hormones, making it sexually revved up. This leaves the snake producing even more venom than usual, so it has to bite, making it even more dangerous. Mrs. Sting spends a bit of time unaware she's got a visitor, then freaks out when she finds out about her new friend, and all the while her ex watches a simulation from a computer screen. I'm not sure why he's so upset she left, she seems like an utter fruitcake, talking to herself all the time and doing interesting things involving fire and boots.

Fair Game is very 80s, especially the score by Giorgio Moroder, who won an Oscar for Top Gun's "Take My Breath Away," and the computer program the husband uses to watch the non-wife. The plot line is very contrived, but the handling of the material is surprisingly good, especially considering that a cast of, oh, four have to carry the whole thing. And that total includes the delivery boy cameo. It's not easy to keep things interesting with only two main characters and a small enclosure, but Fair Game does well. I'm not sure it was necessary to supe up the mamba, and maybe a side effect of that augmenting is the reason the snake is a bit slow moving. The injection must've really messed the snake up regardless, because while it has to bite, it also flees at times and disappears completely in the finale.

Watch for the magical recording device that floats mysteriously from the ceiling in the snake guy's house.
The DVD presents Fair Game at 1.33:1. The film looks squished in the credits, so I'm sure it's not in the original ratio. The print can get very speckley and doesn't appear to be been remastered in any way.
The audio is an English 2.0 stereo track. The sound is represented decently, but unless you're a purist, this track will be disappointing. As I said, the score is very 80s, but there is a Cannibal Holocaust like track that accompanies the snake cam. I'm not sure that really helps the music overall, though.
Extra Features
The only actual extra is the trailer, but the DVD includes a cool striking snake icon when you select a chapter or the trailer. The trailer is weird, because it deliberately avoids the plot's snake element, instead opting to pass the movie off as a truly bland love revenge thriller.
The Verdict
Fair Game is an overlooked, well-done thriller. It's not as good as Venom, but was also made with a much smaller budget. While this particular DVD leaves a lot to be desired, the film itself is recommended.
Movie Score
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