Poison (1991) - Rotten Tomatoes

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.

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

November 9, 2010 | Full Review…

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

November 9, 2010 | Full Review…

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

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

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

March 31, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

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

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

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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