A formerly institutionalized young man (Anthony Perkins) meets up with a cute, sexy high school cheerleader (Tuesday Weld) and pretends to be a CIA agent to get her interested in him while she responds to his fantasy all too willingly. This, combined with her adult craving for sensual excitement, adds up to a potentially explosive pairing indeed. And explode it does. Written by
[upon being released on parole from a mental institution]
I must tell you, Mr. Azenaur, a lumber yard does seem like a slight waste of my talents.
Is that so?
Yes, sir. I've been taking a secret course in interplanetary navigation. I had hoped to be appointed to the first Venus rocket.
Cut that out, Dennis!
I was kidding, sir.
These fantasies of yours can be dangerous. Now, you lay off that stuff!
Yes, sir. Well, I better not miss my bus to the lumber yard. You'll be hearing from me.
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A twisted, neglected gem, sparked by Weld and Perkins.
"Pretty Poison" is one of those low-budget finds you discover every once in a great while on late-night TV or at the video store when none of the new releases pique your interest. Deftly adapted by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. from Stephen Geller's Book "She Let Him Continue," director Noel Black (in his debut) hits all the right marks with this thoroughly bizarre, inventive tale of madness and deception.
Loony, neurotic Anthony Perkins (about on par with his classic Norman Bates character) is a fidgety-looking arsonist who lures young co-ed Tuesday Weld into helping him pull off his next big "project." He finds Weld not only willing but his perfect match when it comes to cooking up schemes. To say any more would absolutely ruin this diverting, kinky little "black comedy." Suffice it to say there are enough forks in the road to keep your mind thoroughly on "drive."
Perkins and Weld are at their offbeat best here. Perkins goes without saying, but Tuesday Weld has always intrigued me with her coy, playful, deceptive little vixens. She has an off-the-wall style all her own! Just catch her in "Lord Love a Duck," "Who'll Stop the Rain," "I Walk the Line," "Play It As It Lays" (again with Perkins) or "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" to see precisely what I mean. She's absolutely bewitching! Beverly Garland, too often wasted in films, has one of her best roles here as Tuesday's flinty mom who becomes an unwitting element in the scheme.
If weird is your game, "Pretty Poison" is the name. You won't be sorry.
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