IMDb > Poison (1991)
Poison
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Poison (1991) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

User Rating:
6.6/10   2,219 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Jean Genet (inspired by the novels of Jean Genet with quotations from "Miracle of the Rose", "Our Lady of the Flowers" and "Thief's Journal")
Todd Haynes (written by)
Contact:
View company contact information for Poison on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
16 August 1991 (Sweden) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Three intercut stories about outsiders, sex and violence. In "Hero," Richie, at age 7, kills his father and flies away... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
4 wins & 6 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Intriguing But Flawed See more (22 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Edith Meeks ... Felicia Beacon
Millie White ... Millie Sklar
Buck Smith ... Gregory Lazar
Anne Giotta ... Evelyn McAlpert
Lydia Lafleur ... Sylvia Manning

Ian Nemser ... Sean White

Rob LaBelle ... Jay Wete

Evan Dunsky ... Dr. MacArthur
Marina Lutz ... Hazel Lamprecht
Barry Cassidy ... Officer Rilt
Richard Anthony ... Edward Comacho
Angela M. Schreiber ... Florence Giddens
Justin Silverstein ... Jake
Chris Singh ... Chris
Edward Allen ... Fred Beacon
Carlos Jimenez ... Jose
Larry Maxwell ... Dr. Graves

Susan Norman ... Nancy Olsen (as Susan Gayle Norman)
Al Quagliata ... Deputy Hansen

Michelle Sullivan ... Prostitute
Parlan McGaw ... Newscaster
Frank O'Donnell ... Old Doctor
Melissa Brown ... Woman in the Alley / Additional Voices (voice)

Joe Dietl ... Man in the Alley
Don Damico ... Doctor #1 / Cop #2 / Additional Voices (voice)
Charles Cavalier ... Cop 1
Kyle De Camp ... Neighbor (as Kyle deCamp)
Aimee Scheff ... Neighbor
Jessica ... Nurse
Lorraine Traverson ... Nurse
Phil W. Petrie ... Doctor
John C. Nadeau ... Doctor (as John Nadeau)
James Cagnard ... Bartender
Lauren Zalaznick ... Waitress
Chris Henricks ... Sleazy Man
Leah Mullen ... Little Girl
Elyse Steinberg ... Little Girl
Bruce Cook ... Dr. Strick
Andrew Bishop ... Child's Hands
Tom McCullough ... Townsperson
Chava Tiger ... Townsperson
Jack Tiger ... Townsperson
Frankie Waters ... Townsperson
Richard Hansen ... Narrator (voice)
Joe Glick ... Additional Voices (voice)
Scott Renderer ... John Broom
James Lyons ... Jack Bolton
John R. Lombardi ... Rass

Tony Pemberton ... Young Broom
Andrew Harpending ... Young Bolton
Tony Gigante ... Inspector

Douglas Gibson ... Van Roven

John Leguizamo ... Chanchi (as Damien Garcia)
Les Simpson ... Miss Tim
Joey Grant ... Jamoke
Gary Ray ... Canon / Additional Voices
David Danford ... Basco
Jason Bauer ... Doran

Ken Schatz ... Preacher
Maurice Clapisson ... Guard 1
Matthew Ebert ... Guard 2
Marie-Françoise Vachon ... Foster Mother
Michael Silverman ... Foster Father
Shaun Wilson ... Broom Age 6
Nino Bua ... Fontenal Inmate
Wayne Compton ... Fontenal Inmate
Raymond Dragen ... Fontenal Inmate

John Duffy ... Fontenal Inmate
John McGhee ... Fontenal Inmate
Michael A. Miranda ... Fontenal Inmate (as Michael Miranda)

Anthony J. Ribustello ... Fontenal Inmate
Jonathan Smit ... Fontenal Inmate
Oscar Tevez ... Fontenal Inmate
Gideon Joslyn Brown ... Baton Inmate

John Gleeson Connolly ... Baton Inmate (as John Connolly)

Tom Cross ... Baton Inmate
Eric Cubano ... Baton Inmate
Dani Michaeli ... Baton Inmate
Jim Fletcher ... Additional Voices (voice)
Tom Wayland ... Additional Voices (voice)
Norman Yugutta ... Additional Voices (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Michael Reardon ... Bartender (uncredited)

Directed by
Todd Haynes 
 
Writing credits
Jean Genet (inspired by the novels of Jean Genet with quotations from "Miracle of the Rose", "Our Lady of the Flowers" and "Thief's Journal")

Todd Haynes (written by)

Produced by
Brian Greenbaum .... executive producer
James Schamus .... executive producer
Christine Vachon .... producer
Lauren Zalaznick .... associate producer
 
Original Music by
James Bennett 
 
Cinematography by
Maryse Alberti (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Todd Haynes 
James Lyons 
 
Casting by
Karim Aïnouz  (as Karim Ainouz)
Laura Barnett 
Andrew Harpending 
John Michael Kelsey  (as John Kelsey)
 
Production Design by
Sarah Stollman 
 
Art Direction by
Chas Plummer 
 
Costume Design by
Jessica Haston 
 
Makeup Department
Angela Johnson .... hair stylist
Angela Johnson .... makeup artist
Scott Sliger .... effects makeup
 
Production Management
Andy Fair .... unit manager
Lauren Zalaznick .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Mark Haffenreffer .... second assistant director
Andrew Harpending .... second assistant director
Christine Vachon .... first assistant director
 
Art Department
Matthew Ebert .... set dresser
John Hansen .... set designer
Kelly Reichardt .... property master
 
Sound Department
Neil Danziger .... sound recordist
Julie Lindner .... assistant sound editor
Mary Ellen Porto .... sound editor
Reilly Steele .... sound mixer
Julie Wilde .... boom operator
 
Visual Effects by
Paul Seidman .... production assistant
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Karim Aïnouz .... third electrician (as Karim Ainouz)
Stephen Earley .... second assistant camera
Barry Ellsworth .... black and white camerawork
Russell Lee Fine .... still photographer
Tom Gilmour .... first assistant camera
Sam Henriques .... first assistant camera
Jenny Hwozdek .... best boy
Bethany Jacobson .... still photographer
John C. Nadeau .... gaffer
Dave Samuel .... gaffer
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Ivan Flores .... assistant costume designer
Julie Lindner .... wardrobe supervisor
Kelly Reichardt .... key dresser
 
Editorial Department
Karim Aïnouz .... supervising assistant editor (as Karim Ainouz)
Tim Brennan .... negative cutter
Alan Hofmanis .... apprentice editor
Irin Strauss .... assistant editor
Dave Pultz .... color timer (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Peter Golub .... conductor
 
Other crew
Andy Fair .... location manager
Philip Harrison .... production assistant
John O'Hagan .... intern
Jennifer Opresnick .... script supervisor
Jeffrey Schwarz .... production assistant
Derek Yip .... production assistant (uncredited)
 
Thanks
John Waters .... thanks
 

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
MPAA:
Rated NC-17 for explicit sexuality
Runtime:
85 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
According to James Lyons, on the film's commentary, the film was at one point called "H".See more »
Quotes:
John Broom:[V.O] Prison was not new to me. I'd lived in them all my life. In submitting to prison life, embracing it... I could reject the world that had rejected me.See more »
Movie Connections:
References A Song of Love (1950)See more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
22 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
Intriguing But Flawed, 10 June 2007
Author: gftbiloxi (gftbiloxi@yahoo.com) from Biloxi, Mississippi

Filmed in 1990, POISON was an extremely obscure art house film--until Senator Jessie Helms, a hysterical homophobe, threw a public temper tantrum over the fact that it had been financed in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Helm's tirade had the effect of piquing public curiosity, and while it never played mainstream cinemas POISON did indeed go on to a wider release on the art house circuit, winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival and receiving an unexpectedly rapid release to the homemarket as well. Thereafter it rapidly returned to the same obscurity from which came.

In a general sense, the film is inspired by the writings of Jean Genet (1910-1986), a French author associated with the existentialist movement. A deliberate outsider, Genet spent so much of his youth in and out of prison that he was ultimately threatened with a life sentence as a habitual criminal. In his writings, Genet fused his homosexual, criminal, and prison adventures into a consistent point of view--one that championed freedom of choice (no matter how unattractive the choice), self-determination (no matter how unfortunate the result), and generally gave the finger to any form of authority (no matter how necessary.) POISON specifically references three of his most celebrated works: OUR LADY OF THE FLOWERS, THE MIRACLE OF THE ROSE, and THE THIEF'S JOURNAL, all of which were to some extent autobiographical.

At the same time, the film also references a host of other films--so many that it is sometimes difficult to know whether a single reference is deliberate or simply a fluke, an effect that Genet himself would have likely admired. The most obvious of these references is D.W. Griffith's 1916 silent masterpiece INTOLERANCE, for like that film POISON tells three distinctly stories, cross-cutting between them that they might heighten each other. Unlike INTOLERANCE, however, each story is also told in a distinctly different cinematic style, and these too seem to reference various other films.

The first of these stories, HOMO, is very specifically drawn from Genet. It tells the story of a constant criminal and homosexual who, while in prison, meets a man whose repeated sexual humiliation he witnessed when both were children in a reformatory. He forces the man, who is unwilling mainly due to fear than from morality, into an emotional relationship and later rapes him. The "present" sequences are shot in a murky half-light, the prison presented as a labyrinth of potential sexual destruction. When the prisoner recalls his youthful past, however, the tone changes to a surrealistic and extremely artificial beauty--not unlike that seen in such films as James Bidgood's PINK NARCISSUS and Fassbinder's QUERELLE. It is worth pointing out that these different styles are ironic in use: although shot darkly, the events of the "present" sequence are only mildly shocking in comparison with the events of the "past" sequence, which is shot in a bright and rather romantic style.

HORROR references the 1950s and early 1960s cinematic style of such "B" directors as William Castle and Roger Corman, and it frequently borrows cinematic ideas from Rod Sterling's television series THE TWILIGHT ZONE. In this particular tale, a scientist has labored to isolate the essence of the human sex drive--and succeeds only to ingest the element by accident. With human sex drive raging out of control in his body, he develops oozing sores, and his physical contacts with others spread the condition. It is difficult not to read this as a reference to the AIDS epidemic.

The third story, HERO, is actually presented very much like a modern television news story and is told through a series of interviews. Here, a young boy has shot his father--and then, according to his mother, leaps from the window sill and simply flies away. Neighbors comment: the boy exposed himself. School teachers comment: the boy was unnatural, the boy was normal, the boy was creative, the boy was a liar. A doctor comments: it is possible the boy had a, er, disease of the genitals. As the story progresses the layers add up--but it leaves us without clearcut answers, much less a clearcut response, and in this last respect it is exactly like the other two stories.

It is extremely, extremely difficult to know how to react to POISON. It has moments of remarkable beauty, but these are coupled with moments of equally remarkably off-putting disgust. It is often an erotic film, but the eroticism is tinged and occasionally saturated with revulsion. And in all of this it is remarkably true to its original source: Genet, whose works typically provoke exactly the same sense of beauty, disgust, sensuality, revulsion, and uncertainty of response. I cannot say that I like POISON, which was the directorial debut of Todd Haynes, presently best known for FAR FROM HEAVEN--but then, it is not that sort of film; it does not invite you like it, but rather to consider it both in whole and in part. It strives to be interesting, and in that it is often quite successful.

Unfortunately, it may also be a little too interesting for its own good. While it certainly has its visceral moments, occasionally to the gag point, it asks us to solve a puzzle from which pieces are missing. This not a necessarily a bad thing, but in the case of POISON too many pieces have gone astray; it seems deliberately unsolvable. This may actually be intentional, but if so it was a mistake. A sense of mystery is one thing, but mystification is another, and given its overall strangeness--not to mention the subject matter--I think it very, very unlikely that it will ever have more than curiosity appeal outside an art house audience.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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