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Film / Poison Ivy

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Poison Ivy is a 1992 thriller directed by Katt Shea and starring Drew Barrymore.

Sylvie Cooper (Sara Gilbert) attends a private school in Los Angeles. She doesn't have many friends until she meets Ivy (Barrymore), a student attending the school on a scholarship. She quickly becomes close friends with Ivy and lets Ivy live in her house. However, Sylvie's friendship isn't enough for Ivy; she wants so much more. And whatever Ivy wants, Ivy gets.

Nominated for two film festival awards, this movie was followed by three sequels (two direct to video and one made for television) that were In Name Only. The second film starred Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?, Charmed), while the third starred Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl) and the fourth starred Miriam McDonald (Degrassi).

For the Batman villain of the same name, see this page.


This film provides examples of:

  • Big Bad: Ivy, most definitely. Almost every single bad thing that happens is her fault and intentionally.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sylvie's piano piece for her mother. Ivy hums the melody in the car, which reveals to Sylvie that she was present when her mother fell to her death.
  • Cleavage Window: Actually serves a plot point - because of Ivy's exposed skin, we can see the bruise where she hit the steering wheel, proving she was driving.
  • Disney Dog Fight: Between Sylvie and Ivy. Ivy wins by having trained the dog to respond to a food cue.
  • Disney Villain Death: This happens to Ivy at the end when she's fighting with Sylvie.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: A climactic scene involves Ivy half dangling off a building, struggling with the protagonist, when her eye is caught by the meaningful necklace the protagonist is wearing and she makes a grab for it. For one of them, it's a good thing that chain wasn't very strong. For the other one, well, *splat*.
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  • Flower Motifs: In Victorian floriography, ivy symbolizes friendship, affection and fidelity — all of which are cruelly twisted by the title character.
  • Foreshadowing: Early on in the film, Ivy says that if she were to kill herself, she'd like to fall. Guess how she bites it in the climax.
  • Frame-Up: After crashing the sports car, Ivy switches positions with Sylvie and dabs her blood on the steering wheel to make it look like she was driving.
  • Freudian Excuse: Ivy is desperate for the family and love she never had.
  • Madonna–Whore Complex: Played up with the contrast between Sylvie (Madonna) and Ivy (Whore).
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Ivy serves this role to Sylvie, representing the 'wild bad girl' that she wishes she could be.
  • Mercy Kill: Sylvie first meets Ivy when she calmly kills a dog which had been hit by a car to put it out of its misery.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Ivy murders Sylvie's mother so she can have Darryl, Sylvie's father, all to herself.
  • No Name Given: Drew Barrymore's character is never given a name and is referred to as Ivy by Sylvie because of the ivy-covered cross tattoo on her leg.
  • Romantic Rain: Ivy and Darryl have a prolonged steamy scene on the hood of a car, in the rain.
  • Scholarship Student: Ivy attends an exclusive private school on a scholarship and has to maintain a certain GPA to attend the school.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Poison Ivy 3 has a shot of Violet rising out of the pool while topless.
  • Theme Naming: All the protagonists of the movies have flower names. The first film has a girl called Ivy, the second Lily, the third Violet and the fourth Daisy.
  • The Vamp: Ivy wants a family, so she decides to murder the heroine's mother and seduce the father in order to achieve her dream.


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