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Poison (1991)



Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 1,802

My Rating

Movie Info

This film has become infamous thanks to the efforts of the Rev. Donald Wildmon, who publicly questioned the fact that NEA dollars were spent on this "filth." While Wildmon's point was certainly overstated, this debut feature from Todd Haynes is quite disturbing. The Poison in question is sex, and its toxic effects are explored in three segments which have been shuffled together like a deck of cards. "Hero" is a pseudo-documentary about a seven-year-old boy who shoots his father and then ascends


Drama, Horror, Art House & International

Jean Genet, Todd Haynes

Feb 15, 2000

Zeitgeist Films

Watch It Now



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All Critics (21) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (5) | DVD (2)

I could have done without the designer prison, but most of the other stylistic conceits work.

November 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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Arguably the strongest American debut feature of the '90s.

November 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
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Todd Haynes' Poison is a conceptually bold, stylistically audacious first feature, a compelling study of different forms of deviance.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
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Boldly self conscious, Poison switches channels among its three stylistically varied but thematically linked tales with cumulative, claustrophobic power.

March 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Newsweek
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Compelling and quirkily intelligent; Genet, one feels, would have been impressed.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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The movie needs to evoke more than the ghost of Genet to give it resonance.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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A stylish study of human deviance at its dirtiest.

November 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4

An exercise in cinema of ideas that, while audacious and occasionally compelling, is ultimately less than the sum of its parts.

November 9, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

captures the spirit of Genet's work

February 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

A very tough, queasy film, but extremely powerful and a strong feature debut for Haynes.

November 20, 2007 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Haynes' brilliant feature debut is a triptych of visually divergent episodes, each set in a wolrd dying of panicky fright. Of the three tales, my favorite is "Horror," a poignant parody of b/w movies shot in slightly exaggerated noir vein.

October 9, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Todd Haynes boldly announces himself as a force to be reckoned with.

May 22, 2004
Flipside Movie Emporium

A mysterious, funny, sexy, and scary triptych; each film works beautifully on its own, and even better in relation to the others.

August 17, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

The overall effect shows a born director following his creative instincts fearlessly.

July 22, 2003 Full Review

Repellent in a way few films ever have been

February 2, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The stories don't really work together, and Haynes attempts to compensate by intermingling them, trying to force viewers to see patterns.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

"The whole world is dying of panicky fright" are the words that open the movie. Poison makes the fear palpable.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Poison

Three stories about a prison romance, a boy who flies away after killing his father, and a scientist who becomes a leprous sex monster are entwined.
I think I could find a way to link these three stories to sexuality, specifically gay sexuality, just as several other reviewers have done, but the acting and writing were so deplorable that it made it difficult to follow the film. I understand that "Horror," the B-movie storyline, was supposed to have bad acting, but there is no such excuse for the other two stories. The performances were so stilted and self-conscious, and it seemed like first-time director Todd Haynes didn't shoot enough takes.
Overall, I think there might be something interesting underneath the crappy acting, but I couldn't bring myself to see it clearly.
June 15, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

The small budget for this film did not hold back Todd Haynes' big ideas. This is a disquieting, challenging movie that presents us wiith heavy subject matter without offering immediate or obvious explanations. The structure, tone and concept are extremely polished. A great debut.
January 24, 2011

Super Reviewer

Less a cohesive motion picture than it is a collection of ugly, awkward, poorly-realized scenarios, "Poison" is the visually repulsive and, at times, incomparably bland debut from director Todd Haynes (who would eventually go on to make bigger and much better things) that was a source of extreme controversy during its time. Not only does it not deserve to be talked about or brought up in conversation, but it isn't worth a second of anyone's time. It's unremarkable, self-important, degenerative trash.
May 7, 2013
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer

    1. Fontenal Inmate: Someone's got Rass tied up by the balls.
    – Submitted by Oscar T (2 years ago)
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