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critics consensus

Claustrophobic and quirky horror, this is a decently dirty debut for director Todd Haynes. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Three stories: "Hero," about a boy who kills his father; "Horror," black-and-white sci-fi; and "Homo," set in prison.

Cast & Crew

Edith Meeks
Felicia Beacon
Millie White
Millie Sklar
Buck Smith
Gregory Lazar
Anne Giotta
Evelyn McAlpert
Susan Norman
Nancy Olsen
Al Quagliata
Deputy Hansen
James Lyons
Jack Bolton
Jean Genet
Writer
Brian Greenbaum
Executive Producer
James Schamus
Executive Producer
James Bennett
Original Music
Maryse Alberti
Cinematographer
Barry Ellsworth
Cinematographer
Todd Haynes
Film Editor
James Lyons
Film Editor
Karim Aïnouz
Casting
Sarah Stollman
Production Design
Chas Plummer
Art Direction
Jessica Haston
Costume Designer
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Critic Reviews for Poison

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Poison

  • May 07, 2013
    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.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Jun 15, 2012
    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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Nov 14, 2011
    Few auteurs accomplish to understand the true meaning of a debut. While the generally accepted law states that a filmmaker makes progress with experience and time, sometimes the debut is your means of exploding your ideas into a feature. Haynes masterfully divides the implications of living in a homophobic society (Christianity included) into three separate episodes constantly invading our senses through nightmarish and varying styles: a "mockumentary", a sci-fi / horror tribute to the 50s and a slash of what is considered "the queer movement" in cinema. Each one states, in order: 1) The condemnation of society towards homosexuality with a main argument: "You think your neighbor is a completely normal person until you hear these kind of things", a superficial sentence stated by people totally devoid of any emotional maturity and with full ignorance about any background behind the curtain. 2) The monster represented by masses that unleash their anger and disapproval towards those who are different from an established majority. The leper represents the scope of people towards difference. 3) The haunting segment containing the final sentence dictated towards the minority, with the use of thought-provoking imagery of deeply symbolic meaning (hence, the spitting sequence is the most brutal by what it stands for). So, are they poisoning society, or does society is already a poison to anything? 97/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 23, 2011
    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.
    Mike T Super Reviewer

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