Thursday, August 30, 2012

Poison Ivy II (1996) - Worth it only to look at Alyssa

Poison Ivy II

The "Poison Ivy" franchise started out with high intentions.  Several reputable actors were in the 1992 original, notably Tom Skerritt, Cheryl Ladd and Drew Barrymore. It told the tale of a seemingly innocent girl who befriends a loser daughter and schemes her way into taking over the entire family.

Poison Ivy II
Oh, secrets in a box, I think I'll become a tramp!

The original struck a chord with viewers, mostly because Drew Barrymore played on the "Lolita" theme and dramatically morphed from innocent to sexy. With that surprise success came the unexpected need for a sequel to cash in, and that's where "Poison Ivy II" came in.

Poison Ivy II
This is about as sexy as it gets

With the audience in place, the producers went the schlock route and emphasized the sex, dumbed down the writing and kept costs low by hiring cheap actors. Alyssa Milano was in between TV series at this point, and had been reduced to playing off her her years as a child star by going the sexy route.  She had just starred in the extremely risque "Embrace of the Vampire" and went topless on "The Outer Limits," and the transition from child star to adult actress was proving extremely awkward. With the unexpected success of "Vampire behind her, she moved on to the higher profile "Poison Ivy" franchise. She brought along her "Vampire" director, Anne Goursaud, a proven expert at soft-core exploitation.

Poison Ivy II
As usual in these exploitation flicks, we get the weird party scene

As is often the case in these low-rent rip-offs of high class productions, there is only the most tenuous of connections to the original. The original stars are all gone (which, in the case of the very butch Sara Gilbert is a blessing), and in their place we have Alyssa and a bunch of no-names. Really, the only reason to watch this now is to see Alyssa once again going topless and playing the "simulated sex" game.

Poison Ivy II
Schaech bore the slightest resemblance to Brad Pitt

For my money, "Embrace of the Vampire" showed Alyssa off to better advantage, but there are worthy scenes of her in this film, too. She becomes the object of lust of her art instructor, and poses nude for him, but, while flattered, she really isn't into him. Instead, she has to placate her muscular boyfriend, which she does several times to very good effect.

Poison Ivy II
Alyssa is now the little victim, so they make her look as girlish as possible
Alyssa knew what she was doing. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and a whole slew of other former female child stars went down the same well-trod path. Shed the innocent-girl image or face oblivion. Since she was cute enough to pass muster, it worked, and eventually she got "Charmed." So don't feel sorry for her, she was using you, the viewer, not the other way around. As she said much later, presumably after counting her money, "I hope my 'Poison Ivy' days are behind me." The cynical strategy worked, so indeed they are.

Poison Ivy II
Jaime's expression says it all about that film

Jaime Pressley followed a year later in yet another lame sequel of the Poison Ivy franchise, showcasing her smoking body, and that worked out precisely the same way for her, leading to several more risque movie roles before landing "Earl." After that, the franchise mercifully died.

Poison Ivy II
Not so unhappy when you are getting what you want, right?

Alyssa doesn't show much, and we'd seen it all before by that point, but the production values are much higher here than in "Vampire," so it is worth a look. We see her in the show, seducing her boyfriend, having sex with her boyfriend, posing topless for her art instructor, and so on and so forth. If seeing Alyssa's body is that much of a treat for you, give this one a look, otherwise, you will be bored silly by the end.


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