Poison - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Poison Reviews

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December 29, 2015
An interesting movie from Todd Haynes with beautiful cinematography and great performances all around.
October 16, 2015
Poison is an elegantly produced, slightly disjointed assessment of gay life and its relationship with society at large, utilizing three different genres that appeal to gay audiences (campy sci-fi/horror, documentary, romantic drama) in order to convey messages about the AIDS crisis, the feeling of being poisoned by ones sexuality, the difficulty of expressing love in a world that hates you, and the assertion of gay love as natural. Although its themes are occasionally expressed heavy-handedly, its existence was absolutely revolutionary in a time when LGBT people were dying left and right only to be met with contempt by their own government, and though Haynes would go on to direct greater works dealing with these ideas, his first feature remains a vital piece of gay history and a testament to the power of independent filmmaking.
½ July 1, 2015
I'll never be able to articulate the reaction I had to Todd Hayne's shrewd deconstruction of the early 1990's queer culture. Haynes merges his own vision within the context of Genet and John Waters at the same time.
February 1, 2014
Its mind bending story gives you as much chills as it does make you wince.
½ December 24, 2013
An amazing first film.....See it if you aren't too delicate!
½ December 23, 2013
Chilling to the bone.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 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.
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2012
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?

December 20, 2012
Don't watch this one at Night. Have the big book by your side.
June 20, 2012
Overall, pretty forgettable. I can't say it's not well done. Three stories are told together; the first one being a boy who kills his father and flies away, the second being a prisoner becoming obsessed with another inmate, and the third being a story of a scientist who found a way to create the sex drive in liquid form. The reason I say it's well done is because these three stories are told in their own way. Todd Haynes shows that he knows how to create a unique style for each story. The first story is told in a documentary style. They interview people about the kid and what he was like. He seems like he was a creepy kid who liked it when people did bad things to him. His friend even says he wanted to beat him up sometimes. It wasn't because he hated him, but that's what he wanted. But the story doesn't really evolve or go anywhere. We just figure out the sexual connection of the story, which is the boy finding his father and mother having sex and he kills his dad and flies away. Interesting, but I thought it was pretty flat. The second story is more stylized. The prison doesn't seem like a prison and we are taken into a more dramatic realization of the world. A guy who saves another guy from a rapist actually ends up wanting to bang the guy he saved. This one wasn't really interesting at all to me. We do get a scene that grossed me out, which was seeing a group of guys spitting on another guy and forcing him to have his mouth open. I couldn't keep watching it. Then the third story feels more like a sci-fi flick from the 50s. It also has the style of Cronenberg. It's in black and white, about a scientist who drinks the sex drive after he wants to have sex with his new partner. However, the liquid turns him into a leper and he can't control his urges anymore. This one was my favorite for the odd style and the horror feel. In some ways it reminded me of Re-Animator. Too much of your sex drive will drive you insane and make you undesirable, but then the contagious thing just plays up the silly horror aspects while commenting on STDs. Overall the style is interesting and the stories feel like they should work together, but I felt like it was more of a mess than anything.
Super Reviewer
June 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.
½ January 8, 2012
wow. really cool movie. i'm not the biggest fan of todd haynes (i can't stand velvet goldmine) but i liked this a lot.
½ January 3, 2012
Haynes' ability to evoke interest and emotion out of conscious artificiality is in evidence in his debut feature, although not to the extent of some of his more accomplished work. The prison storyline (one of three) is at times the most effective (when it's quietest) and the least.
December 11, 2011
It's very weirdly worth watching.
July 27, 2011
I'll be honest and say I didn't totally get it. But I still respect it. :-)
½ July 1, 2011
Difficult and flawed, but ultimately rewarding. Todd Haynes' disturbing 1991 debut intermingles three short stories, all told in wildly different cinematic styles (mock-documentary, '50s B-movie, and prison melodrama). Two out of three of them are quite good.
½ June 21, 2011
Todd Haynes' Poison is a conceptually bold, self-conscious, stylistically audacious first feature, a compelling study of different forms of deviance.
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