Poison (1991)

Poison (1991)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Poison Photos

Movie Info

Todd Haynes' feature debut is structured around three interlocking vignettes. In the AIDS allegory "Horror," filmed in the style of 1950's science fiction B-movies, a scientist (Larry Maxwell) distills the human sex drive into liquid form; in "Hero," told in the documentary style of a tabloid-television report, the exploits of a seven-year-old boy who shoots his father and then flies away are recounted; and "Homo," based on the writings of Jean Genet, is an examination of the prison romance between two male prisoners.
Art House & International , Drama , Horror
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Zeitgeist Films

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Edith Meeks
as Felicia Beacon
Susan Norman
as Nancy Olsen (as Susan Gayle Norman
Rob LaBelle
as Jay Wete
Bruce Cook
as Dr. Stick
as Nurse
Joe Dietl
as Woman in the Alley
Michael A. Miranda
as Fontenal Inmate
Bruce R. Cook
as Dr. Stick
Millie White
as Millie Sklar
Buck Smith
as Gregory Lazar
Anne Giotta
as Evelyn McAlpert
Lydia Lafleur
as Sylvia Manning
Edward Allen
as Fred Beacon
John P. Connolly
as Baton Inmate
Tony Gigante
as Inspector
Michael Silverman
as Foster Father
Richard Anthony Crenna
as Edward Comacho
Tony Pemberton
as Young Broom
James Lyons
as Jack Bolton
Evan Dunsky
as Dr. MacArthur
Andrew Bishop
as Child's Hands
Larry Maxwell
as Dr. Graves
Don Damico
as 1st Doctor/2nd Cop
Scott Renderer
as John Broom
Gary Ray
as Canon
Michael Miranda
as Fontenal Inmate
Marina Lutz
as Hazel Lamprecht
Michael Shawn Wilson
as Broom (age 6)
Angela Schreiber
as Florence Giddons
John Duffy
as Fontenal Inmate
Michelle Sullivan
as Prostitute
Anthony Rubustillo
as Fontenal Inmate
Douglas F. Gibson
as Van Roven
Matt Ebert
as Guard 2
Al Quagliata
as Deputy Hansen
Andrew Harpending
as Young Bolton
Nino Bau
as Fontenal Inmate
Jason Bauer
as Doran
Gideon Joslyn Brown
as Baton Inmate
Jim Cagnard
as Bartender
Barry Cassidy
as Officer Rilt
Maurice Clapisson
as 1st Guard
Wayne Compton
as Fontenal Inmate
Eric Cubano
as Banton Inmate
Kyle de Camp
as Neighbor
Raymond Dragen
as Fontenal Inmate
Damien Garcia
as Chanci
Joey Grant
as Jamoke
Richard Hansen
as Narration
Chris Henricks
as Sleazy Man
Tom McCullough
as Townsperson
Parlan McGaw
as Newscaster
John McGhee
as Fontenal Inmate
Dani Michaeli
as Banton Inmate
Leah Mullen
as Little Girl
John Nadeau
as Doctor
Ian Nemser
as Sean White
Frank O'Donnell
as Old Doctor
Ken Schatz
as Preacher
Aimee Scheff
as Neighbor
Les Simpson
as Miss Tim
Chris Singh
as Chris
Jonathan Smit
as Fontenal Inmate
Elyse Steinberg
as Little Girl
Oscar Tevez
as Fontenal Inmate
Chava Tiger
as Townsperson
Marie-Francoise Vachon
as Foster Mother
Lauren Zalaznick
as Waitress
John Connolly
as Baton Inmate
Matthew Ebert
as 2nd Guard
Angela M. Schreiber
as Florence Giddons
Kyle DeCamp
as Neighbor
Richard Hansen
as Narration
Kyle de Camp
as Neighbor
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Critic Reviews for Poison

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (8)

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

Full Review… | November 9, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Arguably the strongest American debut feature of the '90s.

Full Review… | November 9, 2010
Village Voice
Top Critic

Todd Haynes' Poison is a conceptually bold, stylistically audacious first feature, a compelling study of different forms of deviance.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

Boldly self conscious, Poison switches channels among its three stylistically varied but thematically linked tales with cumulative, claustrophobic power.

Full Review… | March 30, 2008
Top Critic

Compelling and quirkily intelligent; Genet, one feels, would have been impressed.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The movie needs to evoke more than the ghost of Genet to give it resonance.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Poison


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 Earnest
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer

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 Hunter
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.

Mike T.
Mike T.

Super Reviewer

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