Poison Ivy: actually pretty good

The cross makes me think of death, but the ivy is life. Sort of the tragic and hopeful, you know.

Ah, Poison Ivy. It had it all – big hair, teen lesbian lust, daddy complexes, public sex, irreparable emotional trauma and even death.

The players
Sylvie Cooper: A pre-Goth introverted high school student [Sarah Gilbert ]
Ivy: miniskirt-wearing, tattooed, broken doll-faced Lolita of a girl [Drew Barrymore]
Darryl Cooper: Sylvie ‘s father, a wealthy lonely man [Tom Skerritt] with a wilted rose as his dying wife [Cheryl Ladd]

The plot
Sylvie meets & swoons over wild Ivy and invites her into her home along with disaster. She can only look on in horror and confusion as Ivy slowly takes over her life.

What reads like a recipe for generic Hollywood fodder, instead focuses on acute loneliness, obsession and despair as much as on Barrymore’s physique and is actually a strangely moving and beautiful film. The acting is just ok, but Barrymore’s portrayal of a love starved teenage desperado is involving and bouncy, and the cinematography is great, with most of the particularly dramatic moments are shot in twilight rain. This movie probably did some goth-o-fying to herds of restless teenage girls in the 90s. Shakespearean high drama, Freudian tension and Fellinian perversion – I can’t help but love it all!

The images below are from my favorite scenes from both sides of the film’s spectrum – eerie and sexy.

Eerie: Ivy prevents Mrs. Cooper from leaping off her mansion’s balcony

Extra-eerie: Ivy lies in Mrs. Cooper’s bed and asks Sylvie to pretend she’s her mother.

Just plain hot: violent sex scene in the rain with Sylvie’s father.

Avoid the sequels at all costs. They are absolute rubbish, except the vaguely amusing scene where Alyssa Milano gets gothed up for a party.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/OaG62Qj9WmQ" width="400" height="330" wmode="transparent" /]

5 Responses to “Poison Ivy: actually pretty good”

  1. E. Black Says:

    I’ve seen bits and pieces of it but I’ve always wanted to watch the entire thing uninterrupted. I think I may have to.

  2. zoetica Says:

    E – let me know if you do! Keep in mind it was made for under 3 million.

    You know, the more I think about it, the more I am reminded of Japanese movies. It’s very much that type of emotional drama.

  3. D Says:

    Thanks for the tip!

    Since sleep didn’t quite happen this end of the world, I decided to watch it.

    That is a lot of focus on Ivy’s body, not that I mind. It propels the story coupled with the character’s very strong wish to become something other than she is. The rest of the cast didn’t leave too much of an impression, but Drew Barrymore is great. A few times Ivy looked sort of hollowed-out and achingly lovely anemic despite Drew’s natural rosy complexion and chubby cheeks. Whoever made that happen has my thanks.

  4. Molly Crabapple Says:

    Finally someone admits the genius of Poison Ivy.

    Though I disagree with you about the later films. I think they were hilarious, getting ever more ludicrous and porny until the crescendo in Poison Ivy III, where it’s revealed that Violet is a streetwalking dominatrix, and doesn’t work for McDonalds at all. Classic!

  5. Rubens Says:

    Muito show esse filme!