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Poison
Poison
Actors: Edith Meeks, Larry Maxwell, Susan Norman, Millie White, Buck Smith
Director: Todd Haynes
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
R     1999     1hr 25min

Part horror film, part drama and part expose, Poison weaves three stories into one outrageous jigsaw puzzle that juxtaposes a disturbing sensuality with an offbeat moral conscience.

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Edith Meeks, Larry Maxwell, Susan Norman, Millie White, Buck Smith
Director: Todd Haynes
Creators: Barry Ellsworth, Todd Haynes, Brian Greenbaum, Christine Vachon, James Schamus, Lauren Zalaznick, Jean Genet
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 10/26/1999
Original Release Date: 01/01/1991
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1991
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 8
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

DREAMLIKE...like a rhyme without reason
Foot Artist | Houston, Texas United States | 12/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When I saw this film for the first time I left the theater impressed with Todd Haynes' genius. The film is actually a trilogy. One story is about John Broom's life in prison and the nuances of sex and love between men there, with flashbacks to Broom's life as a boy in a reformatory. Here, we get a glimpse of adolescent boys and their discovery of sexuality and the hierarchies of the "counterfeit world of men among men." It feels like one is coming in and out of a dream state. The second is done in the form of a documentary, "Where is Richie Beacon?" - after shooting his father, his mom claims Richie just "flew away... out the window". It's a story about how creepy suburban America really is. The third is a B&W, 1950-ish sci-fi story about a man deteriorating with a disease (that could well be AIDS) and the psychological effect it has on him. "Poison" is for the philosophically inclined. Not for the homophobic and/or faint-hearted. It is a masterpiece in its scope and execution. Very visual and sometimes very disturbing. It touches on the maddening effects of suburbia, modern life, civilization, and the human condition. A MUST SEE for the philosophy student. not easy to follow. VERY COMPLEX. I've got it on VHS and will purchase DVD soon. If you like films with substance this one won't disappoint you!"
A brilliant "triptych," so to speak: homo, horror, hero.
Gary F. Taylor | 10/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Todd Haynes's accomplished feature film after his impressive short, SUPERSTAR, was nonetheless a provocative look into human nature, reflective of our modern society. Comprised of three parts, this wonderfully rendered film exemplifies the positive/negative charges of life--what's worth living and dying for. Plus, sublime revelations of each character!I remember the first time I saw POISON after it's debut at Sundance in 1991, where it received Best Feature and much controversy. I can understand why some people may find it unsettling (homo-errotic jail scene) which at the time was considered oh so taboo. But, it's much more than a "shocking" scene--it's tender and intense. That kind of situation is what I find the most compelling--something no other film director has the guts to show.This film is one of my all-time favorites, especially since it gave me new insights into a world I didn't know exsited. No small task!"
On the positive sides of things...
Gary F. Taylor | 11/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It is sort of unsettling to me to see all of these negative reviews. But it is difficult not to take into consideration the fact that, yes, this film is not spectacular. However, it remains that "Poison," though difficult it seems for people to watch, is incredibly well done. To begin with, the three stories do not have much to do with each other. Haynes took the three vignettes by Jean Genet and made them into a very experimental and passionate film. Those familiar with some of Haynes' other work (namely "Safe" and "Velvet Goldmine") should not find it difficult to catch common themes found in all of Haynes' movies. Freedom, sexual happiness, and a medium between the extreme and the sterile all pop up in Poison, like they did in the Haynes films which are predecessors to "Poison." The performances are all by no name actors who all give exceptional performances, pulling every ounce of pain and drive out of their characters. The extremity in the movie is hard not to respect because it touches on the issue of society's socalled "Freaks," all of who, we are reminded in "Poison," are simply other PEOPLE, like us. The film certainly works to acheive a point, although that point remains hazy on only one viewing, but what it comes down to is that "Poison" is a film about humanity and the neuroses specific individuals must live through. I commend Haynes incredibly for this film. It's just as good as his others. And that, I feel, is how it is."
Best film adaptation of Genet to date
Timothy Hulsey | Charlottesville, VA United States | 03/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Todd Haynes's penchant for postmodern parody (recently displayed in the deliberately garish melodrama _Far From Heaven_) can be seen in _Poison_, his first feature film. Haynes invokes obscure Poverty-Row horror films and television documentaries, among other cinematic forms. Some of the images are lovely, some are ugly, and some are extremely difficult to watch. All represent, in one form or another, French writer Jean Genet's view of sexuality -- pessimistic and frequently angry, but never entirely bleak.This film was one of the infamous "NEA 4" projects that led then-Senator Jesse Helms to impose standards of decency on the National Endowment for the Arts. _Poison_ may be best known for the scandal it generated inside Washington's corridors of power, but it's still a brilliant film.Now, the bad news: Video and audio transfers on this DVD are poor, with numerous print flaws, artifacts and distortion. But the full-frame transfer accurately represents the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The only extras are a slightly decrepit trailer and a solid, informative audio commentary from the director, the producer and the editor."