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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Poison (2000)

"You know I'll help you. Whatever it takes."
- Anna Stewart (Kari Wuhrer)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 26, 2001

Stars: Kari Wuhrer, Barbara Crampton, Jeff Trachta
Other Stars: Larry Poindexter, Peggy Trentini, Michael Cavanaugh
Director: Jay Andrews

MPAA Rating: R for sexuality and some violence
Release Date: September 18, 2001
UPC: 012236122173
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+B+A- B+

DVD Review

If I had to come up with one film that would describe the general tone of the oddly titled 2000 release Poison, it would have to be The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. The premise is simple in both films: a slightly unstable character inserts herself into an unsuspecting household, with the goal of complete and utter destruction. Well it would seem that cradle rocker Rebecca DeMornay, and her oh so memorable late night visit to the fridge, has finally met her match in the form of Kari Wuhrer.

Wuhrer, who got her big break appearing as a regular on MTV's Remote Control in the late 1980s, went on from there to appear in a seemingly endless series of less than stellar projects that played off her natural beauty. Things turned around in 1995 when she was cast on the television show Sliders, and the following year had a role in the big snake epic Anaconda. As of late, Wuhrer has successfully parlayed her sexuality into a strong enough marketing tool that finds her name as part of the actual title for this DVD release.

Director Jay Andrews (Extreme Limits), a man who has been known to go by Jim Wynorski, is no stranger to low budget films, each with a multitude of alternate titles. Poison has been known by more than a few names, including Thy Neighbor's Wife, Midnight Vendetta, and simply Poison. Once again teamed up with cinematographer Andrea Rossotto, Andrews has assembled a much better looking film that some of his recent efforts, and the Sean O'Bannon screenplay has enough minor surprises to contribute to a nice piece of mindless entertainment.

Anna Stewart (Wuhrer) is the loving, do anything wife of fast-track investment executive husband Charles (Larry Poindexter), and in the opening sequence she is forced to sleep with a prospective high profile client to secure the deal. Regrettably, this act of selfless devotion does little to secure Charles promotion to Vice President, and instead he is fired and replaced by Nicole Garrett (Re-Animator's Barbara Crampton). Charles is driven to commit suicide, and when the distraught Anna learns that he was never in the running for the VP position, she begins to exact revenge on all those who have wronged her and her late husband.

After literally destroying the company president early on, Anna then fiendishly inserts herself into the Garrett household as a replacement housekeeper. To allow for this necessary convenience, Anna herself murders the original housekeeper, buxom Karina (Peggy Trentini), in a gratuitously nude Psycho-inspired shower sequence. Once she establishes herself as a member of the household, Anna begins her systematic dismantling of the Garrett household through a series of specific attacks, both physical and psychological, on each member of the family.

Wuhrer, a true beauty, adapts easily to the role of demented villainess, and she thrusts her sexuality around with a perfect blend of innocent and temptress. A film like this would not be complete without plenty of leering shots of it's star, and here Wuhrer is highlighted in a lush nighttime slow-motion pool sequence where, in a tiny bikini, she is stunningly bathed in fog and blue light, with fingers of steam rising off her in a swirling mist.

As the troubled Mr. Garrett, husband of Nicole, Jeff Trachta's performance surprisingly is played against what is typical of the genre. Instead of being drawn like a horny high school student to Anna, he truly loves his rather bitchy wife, despite their constant arguments. Though Anna and him do eventually have a sexual encounter, it is a result of intense grief, anguish, and manipulation.

This is not a great film, by any means. I will admit my expectations were very low, (and this is coming from a guy that actually owns a Kari Wuhrer CD) and I was actually surprised by the final product. The film looks very good, thanks to low budget cinematography master Andrea Rossotto, and that is definitely in it's favor.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Artisan has released this disc in a relatively sharp 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer. Andrea Rossotto's cinematography reflects a very bright color field, and this release does little to defuse that effort. Colors look very clean, with no visible bleed or bloom. For a film with such a pivotal underbelly of sexuality, it should be pointed out that flesh tones look excellent. Devious Kari Wuhrer looks positively radiant here, especially during her scenes with Garrett daughter Darla. Black levels are decent, though at times some of the shadow delineation is a bit murky. There are many visual treats on this disc, and Kari's erotic late-night dip in the pool is a voyeuristically perfect example of Rossotto's skill at using darkness, fog and a layer of blue lighting to create a mood. A few blemishes, most noticeably specks, appear a bit too frequently for a film this new to be completely dismissed.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: If I can give exceptionally high marks to any aspect of this release, it would have to the audio mix. A dramatically effective Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with a nice range of rear-channel cues, adds a strong level of involvement to the sound field. Dialogue is mixed well and blends nicely with the film's background sounds. This DVD also features a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track that varies only marginally from the more impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Tell Me No Lies, Seamless, Lured Innocence, Dark Harbor
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Jay Andrews, Andrea Rossotto, Jeff Trachta
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Artisan wisely included an always entertaining Jay Andrews commentary track as the most significant supplement on this release.

Commentary
Jay Andrews delivers another excellent scene-specific commentary here, as he did on Extreme Limits. Andrews, along with Andrea Rossotto and Jeff Trachta, have a lot of fun and crack quite a few jokes along the way. I really enjoy listening to a B-movie director that understands that his films are less than perfect, and Andrews fits that bill. He has a great self-deprecating humor, and I almost enjoy his comments more than I do the final film.

Photo Gallery
For a film that features so much rampant sexuality, in the form of the incredibly sexy Kari Wuhrer, the six photos that compromise the photo gallery are laughable. An oddball collection of poor quality images left me scratching my head.

A theatrical trailers menu, with full-motion images, is a nice touch. Likewise, the 16 chapters are featured in a menu with full-motion images as well.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Poison, despite it's clunky title, is a leering little B-movie release, seemingly geared toward males, that is coated with an ogling layer of sexual revenge. The film generates the requisite amount of thrills, and the plot does manage a couple of nice twists. Of course, the very presence of Kari Wuhrer makes this a real visual treat.

 


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