The Young Poisoner's Handbook (1995)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  23 February 1996 (USA)
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This film is based on a true story about a British teenager who allegedly poisoned family, friends, and co-workers. Graham is highly intelligent, but completely amoral. He becomes ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tobias Arnold ...
Young Graham
Norman Caro ...
Mr. Goez
Dorothea Alexander ...
Mrs. Goez
Paul Stacey ...
Samantha Edmonds ...
Robert Demeger ...
Mr. Dexter
Peter Pacey ...
Dickie Boone
Joost Siedhoff ...
Dr. Scott
Vilma Hollingbery ...
Aunty Panty
Frank Mills ...
Uncle Jack


This film is based on a true story about a British teenager who allegedly poisoned family, friends, and co-workers. Graham is highly intelligent, but completely amoral. He becomes interested in science, especially chemistry, and begins to read avidly. Something of a social misfit, he is fascinated by morbid subjects such as poisons and murder. His family environment is intolerable to him and, in particular, his stepmother torments him. He decides to poison those who annoy him, first with antimony and later with thallium. He smugly thinks himself cleverer than all those around him, but nevertheless he is caught and sentenced to 'rehabilitation' at a psychiatric institution. Once there, he undertakes to deceive the new eminent psychiatrist sent there to 'cure' him, thereby securing his release. Written by Tad Dibbern <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He gave his life to his research, so did his family. See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for murders by poisoning, language and some nude photos | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

23 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Handbuch des jungen Giftmischers  »

Box Office


$749,812 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie does take some liberties: an example is that Young did not kill his Stepmother in real life - indeed he was close and devoted to her as she had a terminal illness. However, due to his sociopathic behavior, the film seems to explore the possibility he had a hand in her death. See more »


When Dr. Zeigler visits the institution for mentally unstable criminals in which Graham is hospitalized, the director of the institution says, referred to another patient: "Vulpes pilum mutat, non mores", saying it means "The leopard never changes his spots". Graham corrects him, saying it means instead: "The wolf changes its fur, but not its nature". Actually, "vulpes" means "fox". See more »


Molly: You contaminate everything you touch. I'm going to scrub you till you are raw.
See more »


References A Clockwork Orange (1971) See more »


Peanut Butter
Performed by The Big Three
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User Reviews

The best thing since "A Clockwork Orange"
29 June 2001 | by (Hong Kong) – See all my reviews

I don't know what to make of it, honestly. When I first saw it (on late night, and I stayed up till three AM watching it), I thought it was a little like "A Clockwork Orange".

Graham Young (Hugh O'Conor) I found an odd mixture of three parts: curiosity (what leads him to poisoning), clinical detachment (as he watches the results), and a longing to belong (when he tries to be normal -and fails miserably).

First he silently threatens everyone with a gruesome retaliation for the slightest things, and then charts their decline with frightful accuracy as they get sicker and sicker. After that, he retreats into his den again until something better comes along. And then he gets caught.

Then there's that uproarious scene when he's out with a girl, and he tries to get her in a conversation on disembowelment. You can almost see her turn green as he gets into stride. To him, it's an innocent thing; something he likes. For her (and for us, the audience), it's...sick.

I thought that the rehabilitation sequence was a farce. It's as ludicrous as the rest of this quirky gem of a movie, with great performances by all the actors, particularly Hugh O'Conor. He says more with his eyes than most could with their lips.

I mean, the movie is funny (not ha ha funny, though), dripping with corrosive irony. Young is all at once twisted and innocent, torn between conforming and that endless fascination with poison. The comparisons between this and "Clockwork" are almost inevitable, but unlike Kubrick's thriller, this one has a more subtle, menacing tone, for the mind rather than for the eye. It's not a laugh-out-loud film, though it's undeniably hilarious. Whatever you feel, it's kept inside.

If you're one with a sensitive stomach, suicidal tendencies, strange addictions, goody-goodies/puritans, then stay away. Otherwise, WATCH THIS FILM!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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