|Poison Ivy: The New Seduction|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 02 November 1999|
Quality in films can be a relative thing. Take, for example, ‘Poison Ivy: The New Seduction,’ the third in the ‘Poison Ivy’ series. Judged by normal standards, it’s a predictable, substandard sexploitation thriller. However, compared to its immediate predecessor ‘Poison Ivy 2,’ ‘The New Seduction’ looks like Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho.’
‘The New Seduction’ does at least make a token attempt to link to the original ‘Poison Ivy’ (apart from ripped-off plot elements). In a prologue set in 1985, we meet three little girls: Ivy, her sister Violet and Violet’s best friend Joy. (In one of the film’s shrewder moves, the young actress cast as Ivy – played by Drew Barrymore in the first film – bears a remarkable resemblance to Barrymore as a child, though of course Barrymore herself doesn’t appear here.) The sexual entanglements of their parents split the girls up for over a decade. When Violet (played as an adult by Jaime Pressly) returns to town over a decade later, her sister and mother have both died, as has Joy’s mother. Joy (Megan Edwards) welcomes her old friend with open arms; Joy’s father (Michael Des Barres) is somewhat more restrained, but nevertheless lets Violet move into the spare bedroom. Violet immediately sets about wrecking their lives through sex and subterfuge.
Kurt Voss directs with competence if little flair, unable to generate much suspense but at least keeping a sense of forward momentum. Karen Kelly’s screenplay gets off one or twogood lines – caught wearing dominatrix garb, Violet tries to pass it off as a Denny’s uniform – but the bad-girl protagonist seems minimally motivated to embark on her rampage, and her victims seem extraordinarily credulous.
Of the three ‘Poison Ivy’ films, ‘Seduction’ perhaps succeeds best at working as soft-core porn, with sex scenes in Chapters 2, 8, 11 and 13. All but the last of these feature partners close to one another in age, with approximately equal amounts of female and male nudity. It’s not the most exciting footage ever presented by a long shot, but it at least fulfills the basic requirements of the form.
The thriller components of the film are another matter. The script goes through the motions without any of the lifelike idiosyncracies that made the original ‘Poison Ivy’ stand out from the pack. Voss doesn’t try to stage many "jump" scares and, although the script insists that Violet can be lethal, Pressly simply never seems very dangerous. She does, however, many campy flirtation fairly well. Des Barres – of the band Power Station – plays it subdued and straight here; with this and his comic turn in the recent ‘Sugar Town’ (co-directed by Voss), he’s proving to be a nicely versatile actor. Susan Tyrrell is so forceful as the crusty housekeeper that for awhile we wonder if we’re supposed to be afraid of her rather than Violet.
The sound on ‘Poison Ivy: The New Seduction’ is unexceptional, lacking even the usual genre accoutrements of gunshots or screeching tires. Composer Reg Powell evokes Jerry Goldsmith with his efforts, contributing a better score than is customarily found on routine "erotic thrillers" that are not especially erotic and even less thrilling.