6.5/10
3,648
26 user 36 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
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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 1991 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Poison 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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The three episodes are set in 1944 ("Homo"), 1985 ("Hero") and probably the 1950s ("Horror") and their stories are not connected in a conventional sense: "The film's three strands are stylistically distinct - a newsmagazine-style account of a suburban boy who killed his abusive father, a black-and-white B-movie about a scientist turned leprous outcast, a rough-trade romance set in a Genet-like prison - and it cuts among them to create a web of unsettling correlations and an echo-chamber effect." [Dennis Lim, N.Y. Times, 2010] See more »

Quotes

Millie Sklar: Richie was a complicated boy. On the one hand, very intelligent. But at the same time... withdrawn. It was really strange though, the amount of animosity that he would induce in the other children out of nowhere.
See more »

Alternate Versions

When first released on video in the US by Fox Lorber, three versions were offered. The director's cut was released as the NC-17 version; an "unrated" version was released which was essentially the same, minus a brief shot of an erect penis sticking out of a man's shorts; and finally an R rated version was sold, one which was cut in several places to placate the MPAA. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Strange, but fulfilling feature debut.
22 February 2016 | by punishmentparkSee all my reviews

Well, this is indeed a pretty weird mix of three seemingly unrelated stories, the debut feature film by Todd Haynes. I had seen nothing by him before, but I've been interested in seeing 'Safe' (1995) for a while now. And his recent film 'Carol' really seems worth a watch as well. I have 'Velvet goldmine' on DVD as well, but I'm not sure about that one, for more personal - rather inexplicable - reasons, I suppose.

Back to 'Poison'. I found the whole thing to be pretty intriguing, though I'm not sure how it should all relate (other than the obvious human state of misery). A quote from the film, a certain statement about something being a lie and the truth at the same time, struck a cord with me; the film seems to be the director's attempt to put something really personal out there, but at the same time he hopes it pertains to something essential. A bit vague, I'll admit, but I'll comfortably leave it at that: I liked it quite a bit, even if things (altogether) didn't make sense, completely.

The individual stories, about a boy killing his father, a man in prison meeting an 'old' friend and a scientist who simply makes a big mistake, somehow blended together well enough, reminding me of several other directors' films, such as Guy Maddin (haven't seen much of him - shame on me), Tom Kalin^ and John Paizs.

So... a fine little gem it is: 8 out of 10.

^ Strangely enough, Kalin made a rather cult-ish debut film a few years before Haynes did, then Haynes did a much more straightforward (but certainly not mainstream, either) follow-up drama with Julianne Moore in the lead, and then - guess what - years later Kalin did the just the same...


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