Poison Ivy 3 (1997) Movie Review

How good can a movie possibly be when its greatest claim to fame is its pedigree as the third installment in what is essentially a Teen Femme Fatale series most known for “turning out” former child stars? The answer: Not very good. Of course that doesn’t stop “Poison Ivy 3: The New Seduction” from being a guilty pleasure, owing in no small part to then-newcomer Jaime Pressley and what may very well be the world’s most perfect posterior.

Pressly leads the no-name cast as Violet, a 20 year old seductress who returns and moves into the house of her childhood friend Joy (Megan Edwards). Twelve years ago Violet was kicked out of the house along with her mother, a maid who was having an affair with Joy’s father before she decided to shag the pool guy and was caught in the act. Now all grown up and possessing the aforementioned perfect posterior, Violet sets about seducing the household, including now divorce father Ivan (Michael Des Barres) and straight-laced Joy’s boyfriend Michael (Greg Vaughan). Violet also runs afoul of the nosy maid and Joy’s snobbish preppy friends. Let the seduction begin!

Although it tries vainly to be a serious film, “Poison Ivy 3” is a hoot whenever it flexes its camp muscles. Of course while lead Jaime Pressley (“Demon Island”) is doing mostly camp, the rest of the cast seems to be taking the whole thing way too seriously. The very pretty Megan Edwards plays the OCD-inflicted Joy with a straight face, as does Vaughan and Des Barres. If the rest of the cast had relaxed a bit more and given the audience a wink and a nod, then “Ivy” might have improved tremendously.

As it stands, Femme Fatale movies about a vindictive seductress who moves into a suburban house with plans for revenge (and goes about it by seducing every member of the family!) is a major stable of Straight-to-Video softcore films. Throw a rock into the world of STVs and you’ll hit 10 movies in the genre, all starring Shannon Tweed. Throw another rock and you might hit 10 more, this time all starring Kari Wuhrer (“Poison”). But unlike those other movies, the “Poison Ivy” series has never been known for actually showing a lot of skin. Rather, their notoriety has come from successfully re-introducing former child stars Drew Barrymore (in the original) and Alyssa Milano (in the sequel) to the world as sexpots. What little skin that did appear in those other installments was more about shock value than actual amount.

Unlike the previous two “flower seductresses”, Jaime Pressly had no TV child star past to run away from. This might explain why this installment, despite offering up the most skin, is probably the least known. What “Ivy 3” will be most known for is Pressly’s nudity, a part of her acting “skills” that she has apparently decided to discard. This may seem a bit odd considering that she’s not yet a “name” actress, and you’d think running away from screen nudity is purely the prerogative of famous actresses.

Although it’s a lackluster movie in most respects, “Poison Ivy 3” could still have been much better. The acting is there — at least for movies in this level of Straight-to-Video; and director Kurt Voss has his head on straight — meaning that his camera always focuses on the right, ahem, shots. What keeps “Ivy 3” from being a good movie is its lack of identity. Violet’s return to the Greer household seems incidental, and her rampage, in the final 30 minutes, seems more like an afterthought than a carefully planned revenge scheme. And really, does getting a preppy girl drunk and then pretending to have slept with her really that devious?

More could have been made about Violet’s need for revenge. Her schemes could have come across as more elaborate, better planned, and more purposeful. But this is a movie in a tired genre we’re talking about, and it’s an accomplishment to find a limited number of things to enjoy at all. Jaime Pressly’s flashes of skin is one such enjoyment; the campy and even silly nature of her character’s “revenge plot” is another; and the nosy maid played by Susan Tyrrell is the final small guilty pleasure.

Kurt Voss (director) / Karen Kelly (screenplay)
CAST: Jaime Pressly …. Violet
Megan Edwards …. Joy Greer
Michael Des Barres …. Ivan Greer
Greg Vaughan …. Michael

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