As is often the case w/ these mainstream cinematic outliers of the late-sixties, PRETTY POISON needs some cultural context if one is truly to appreciate it. What seems like a cute satire on Main Street community values and a kind of playful genre workout has to be properly understood as something aggressively subversive at a time when all bets were off. And two just totally completely delicious performances.
Wow! Starts inauspiciously, promising a decent character-oriented thriller, and slowly, discreetly turns into a genre masterpiece. Kammerspielfilm par excellence--Black knows how to make an "actor's film" without disrespecting the cinema. Brilliantly explores the link between subversiveness and escapism in the adolescent male, and the integration of casual naturalism with suspense technique is very well done.
Serviceable psycho-thriller has its moments, but is ultimately underwhelming. An original story and strong performances by Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld - the plot stretches credibility and it just never lives up to its full potential. Not a bad film, but not as memorable as it should be.