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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 4/19/00

The Poison Ivy Trilogy

reviews by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Poison Ivy

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Poison Ivy
1992 (1999) - New Line

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B-/B-

Specs and Features:

88 mins (R-rated), 92 mins (unrated), letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (extra layer used for dual versions), Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (25 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Poison Ivy 2

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Poison Ivy 2: Lily
1995 (1999) - New Line

Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B+/C+

Specs and Features:

106 mins (R-rated), 108 mins (unrated), letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (extra layer for dual versions), Snapper case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (21 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Poison Ivy: The New Seduction

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Poison Ivy: The New Seduction
1997 (1999) - New Line

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/C+

Specs and Features:

93 mins (R-rated), 95 mins (unrated), letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (layer for dual versions), Snapper case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Poison Ivy

"What Ivy wants, Ivy gets."

When you approach the Poison Ivy Trilogy, you're looking for one thing: steamy sex scenes. Where Poison Ivy: The New Seduction provides this in spades and Poison Ivy 2: Ivy gives you an average dose, the original Poison Ivy is less about the sex and more about the manipulation. In hindsight, it's a film that may have been better off with more steamy sex scenes.

Drew Barrymore is perfectly cast as the seductive and manipulative Ivy. Tom Skerritt delivers an adequate performance as the father. Sara Gilbert is good as the daughter. Cheryl Ladd, on the other hand, is a figment of the film's imagination. But even this adequate group of performances does little to salvage a plodding melodrama, that teases more than it actually delivers. It ultimately ends up being a series of pointless deceptions that slowly destroys everybody. And how sexy is that? It doesn't even explore the motivations or psychological implications inherent in such a situation. In other words, it's a half-hearted attempt to use sex to sell what could have been a great mental drama.

Technically, the disc fares better than the film it contains. The video is very good, benefiting much from the anamorphic transfer. There's some apparent film grain, so it isn't quite as good as it could be. The grain doesn't affect the color though, which includes nice flesh tones throughout and nice contrast balance. There's nothing to really complain about picture-wise. The audio is where the disc falters - it isn't as encompassing as it could be. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix actually sounds better than the 5.1 mix in some areas, and that's inexcusable. Thankfully, the sound is a minor element in this film, which doesn't require a more serious mix. Still, it could have been much better.

The extras are a mixed bag. On the one hand, you get the option of viewing anamorphic widescreen or full frame. You also can choose between the R-rated or unrated versions of the film. That gives you four possible viewing options, and that is commendable. New Line has done this for the whole trilogy and it's an effort to be applauded. On the down side, there is nothing beyond a trailer to see as far as extras. I do not count cast bios or production notes, because they're as required as chapter stops. Since the trailer is equally as standard, there really isn't anything here extra-wise besides the viewing options. Still, it's a solid disc.

If you're looking for a softcore skin flick you can buy without having to flash an ID, go for the later films in the trilogy. With this first entry in the series, even in the unrated version, you see more of Skerritt's posterior than anything else. Even if nudity isn't your viewing goal, I still wouldn't recommend this more beyond a rent.

Poison Ivy 2: Lily

"Lily wanted to be just like Ivy."

In the first Poison Ivy, we had a bad girl attempting to usurp a family (even if she did more to destroy it). In this sequel, Poison Ivy 2: Lily, we come to realize it isn't about a bad girl at all. It's more about a naive little girl, who becomes so infatuated with the wild side (when she goes off to school) that it consumes her. That's also the basic plotline of a whole lot of softcore films (the first film included). Luckily for those looking for softcore action, this movie delivers more than its predecessor.

The basic plotline sees Alyssa Milano playing Lily, the nice new girl at school. She's studying art, which means the film has an excuse to put a nude model in a whole bunch of scenes. Soon, thought, sweet Lily finds the diary of Ivy, the temptress from the first film. The reality is, this is the only link between the first film and the second. In any event, Lily is soon tempted towards sexual escapades. Sex is, after all, the whole point of this trilogy. The acting is shallow, but that's not unexpected. The script is equally as shallow, but again, that's not unexpected either. Oh... and the nudity is copious, although the trilogy hadn't fully realized its sexual purpose yet. It would have to wait until number three for that.

Technically speaking, this disc is average. The video quality is good and it's anamorphic - plenty of brownie points there. The audio is solid as well, but not all that encompassing. There isn't anything on the soundtrack worth mentioning, but it's not bad. The extras are nonexistent. However, as with the rest of the trilogy, you have the option of viewing in widescreen or full frame. And both are available in either the R-rated or unrated versions. Since this film was direct-to-video there are no trailers.

In the end, this is the better effort story-wise (if we can honestly call it that) in the trilogy. But it's not quite as good as the final installment in terms of sex scenes and such. So I'd say rent it if you're interested. If, on the other hand, having Alyssa Milano naked in your library is your goal... then this is a good disc to add to the collection.

Poison Ivy: The New Seduction

"All the rules are about to be broken."

Where the first Poison Ivy tried to be a serious film, and the second movie recognized that sex and a story was the whole point, the final installment in this trilogy, Poison Ivy: The New Seduction, realizes the full sexual force of the series. Gratuitous sex is what this one is about. Full-on nudity is here and ready for the viewing. Sexually-charged manipulation runs wildly amok. This, my friends, is what softcore cable porn is supposed to be.

Plot-wise, this makes little to no sense and it has virtually nothing to do with the first film. The acting is ludicrously shabby. The motivations are about as empty as any in a straight porn flick. Much of the film is strictly setting up the scenes where Jaime Pressly will have sex, although that's not a complaint. Want the checklist? How about next to the pool with her best friend's boyfriend? Check. In the living room with her best friend's Dad? Check. The maid (who just happens to be Ivy and Violet's mom and the only linking point for the series) even has sex with the pool boy in the first part of the film! You think I'm kidding, right? I'm not kidding.

The DVD video is again New Line quality. That is to say, it's top-notch. The audio on this disc is also very good. The soundtrack and various sound effects (read groans and moans) all come through with a good spatial Dolby Digital soundfield. Soft porn (, I mean, really intellectually-engaging films like this) never looked or sounded this good. As with the other films in the series, the extras are non-existent. Aside from the option of viewing the widescreen or full frame version of either the R-rated or unrated cut, there is nothing else here. However, like the second film it was a direct-to-video release, so what do you expect?

This isn't a movie to be taken seriously. It is, in effect, softcore cable porn. The movie tried to cash in on the Poison Ivy name (for whatever that's worth) and it did. It also served up more sex than the previous two films combined. So go out and buy it if that's your game. Rent it if you've got a date and a couch and you're feeling lucky. Heck... rent it if you're home dateless and feeling particularly unlucky.

Brad Pilcher

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy 2: Lily

Poison Ivy: The New Seduction

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