6.5/10
3,545
26 user 35 critic

Poison (1991)

A boy shoots his father and flies out the window. A man falls in love with a fellow inmate in prison. A doctor accidentally ingests his experimental sex serum, wrecking havoc on the community.

Director:

Todd Haynes

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

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4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edith Meeks Edith Meeks ... Felicia Beacon
Millie White Millie White ... Millie Sklar
Buck Smith Buck Smith ... Gregory Lazar
Anne Giotta Anne Giotta ... Evelyn McAlpert
Lydia Lafleur Lydia Lafleur ... Sylvia Manning
Ian Nemser Ian Nemser ... Sean White
Rob LaBelle ... Jay Wete
Evan Dunsky ... Dr. MacArthur
Marina Lutz Marina Lutz ... Hazel Lamprecht
Barry Cassidy Barry Cassidy ... Officer Rilt
Richard Anthony ... Edward Comacho
Angela M. Schreiber Angela M. Schreiber ... Florence Giddens
Justin Silverstein Justin Silverstein ... Jake
Chris Singh Chris Singh ... Chris
Edward Allen Edward Allen ... Fred Beacon
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Storyline

Three intercut stories about outsiders, sex and violence. In "Hero," Richie, at age 7, kills his father and flies away. After the event, a documentary in cheesy lurid colors asks what Richie was like and what led up to the shooting. In the black and white "Horror," a scientist isolates the elixir of human sexuality, drinks it, and becomes a festering, contagious murderer; a female colleague who loves him tries to help, to her peril. In "Homo," a prisoner in Fontenal prison is drawn to an inmate whom he knew some years before, at Baton juvenile institute, and whose humiliations he witnessed. This story is told in dim light, except for the bright flashbacks. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sensuality, strong language and sexual violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 1991 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Veneno See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$787,280

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$787,280
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film received a $25,000 completion grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. This caught the attention of Republican senator Jesse Helms, who in spite of not having seen the film declared it an abomination and a waste of taxpayer money. See more »

Quotes

Sean White: Some people felt sorry for him, but most of them wanted to hit him and stuff. It was weird, because he was just the kind of person that you want to see get creamed.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Edited, "R" rated version is available on video. See more »

Connections

Featured in Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
heavy with tender, bittersweet emotion and gut wrenching paranoia
12 October 2017 | by framptonhollisSee all my reviews

31 Days of Spookoween: DAY ELEVEN

Film #11: Poison (1991)

Review: It feels both right and wrong to classify Todd Haynes' brilliant feature film debut "Poison" as a horror film. It is unlike any other film that would fit into the genre (although one of its three segments obviously replicates the sci-fi/horror B-Movies of the 1950's), and yet it is still spine tingling and disturbing and, in all honestly, occasionally horrific. But, it is many other things as well, a long list of adjectives taking up line after line could easily be the remainder of this very review. One moment may have some fittingly mild black comedy, while the next may be a poignant love scene, while the nest may be gripping, while the next may be terrifying, while the next may be madly surrealistic. It's deftly unpredictable and oddly engaging, not a minute is wasted and the pacing feels like a gentle breeze that suddenly morphs into a Hellish blaze of howling wind.

Back in the early 90's when the film was first released, it was rather infamous. Hotly debated and heavily controversial, the film was met with outrage from some, and a totally unreasonable NC-17 rating from the MPAA. Yes, it is true that this film tackles heavy themes, particularly those that deal frankly and explicitly with homosexuality, and there are some brief flashes of rather strong sexual imagery, but the film never dwells upon anything that is at all "obscene" or "vulgar". Often, these "dirtier" sequences evoke a feeling much different than lust...they evoke feelings of pain and heart ache and horror and beauty, there's never the sense that what you're watching is in any way "filth"; no, everything feels tasteful and necessary and meaningful, and this creates an experience filled with enigmas and experiments and romances and an overall entirely unique expression of the pains, pleasures, and paranoia that comes with human sexuality.


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