Poison Review

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Science-gone-wrong horror spoof; son shoots parents in docu-drama; buggery in a French Jail.


This is a movie which, one suspects, could only have been made by a graduate of Brown University with a B.A. and Honours in Art/Semiotics. Upon opening in New York, it raised a minor stir in that usually unstirrable city, drawing flak from one or two quarters for being "soft-porn", "repulsive" and "an affront to moral America." In fact, it is woefully un-erotic, ho-hum in the lose-your-lunch department, and an undeniable affront to the National Endowment for the Arts, the body which donated $25,000 towards the cost of editing.

What they got for their money is three interwoven stories inspired by the writings of Jean Genet, almost certainly the most over-rated French novelist of all time. Outsiderdom, criminality and sexual dodginess was Genet's bag, and these not-exactly-virgin themes affect to provide the somewhat rickety intellectual backbone of this trio of half-baked yarns - and that is half-baked in the sense that any one of them, properly baked, could have made a far more interesting movie than Poison.

The section called Horror is a spoof, in the almost surreal style of Godard's Alphaville, of those 50s black-and-white horror films where an over-bold scientist becomes the victim of his own experiments; Hero reconstructs documentary-style the shooting of a couple by their young son; and, the least satisfactory of the three, Homo, is set in a French jail and - probably the source of the affront to moral America - features a scene of behind-bars-buggery no more shocking than something similar in Deliverance 19 years ago. In its style, which straddles - if that's quite the word - Derek Jarman's Sebastiane and Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising, this is disappointing stuff from the man who made Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story with a cast of dolls.

The three stories do not make a whole in this disappointing arthouse film.