Todd Haynes would go on to make Far from Heaven and I'm Not There, but he'd already found his voice with his debut feature, Poison, in 1991. That original release was notable for the controversy rained on the film by conservative commentators and politicians, who pointed to partial support (a total of $25,000) from the National Endowment for the Arts--and the movie's sometimes-explicit depiction of homosexuality--as a sign of that publicly funded organization's supposed agenda, or irresponsibility, or something. The movie is certainly provocative, both in its subject matter and its style. Haynes intertwines three scenarios, inspired by the writings of Jean Genet, titled "Hero," "Homo," and "Horror," each of which has its own self-conscious mode of expression. The first is arranged as a faux-news documentary about the inexplicable ascension of a suburban boy in the wake of a violent act, while "Homo" creates a dreamlike world for its intense prison affair. The horror segment unfolds in a deliberately cheesy black-and-white style that looks like a recently discovered Doris Wishman quickie from the early '60s. For such a low-budget enterprise, Haynes and producer Christine Vachon manage to give Poison an amazingly imaginative, assured look--and indeed turn the budgetary restrictions to the film's advantage. Haynes's postmodern approach, mixed in with the urgency of the AIDS era and a few explicit moments, made Poison a landmark in establishing Queer Cinema as an indie force. If it feels a little like a relic now, that shouldn't undermine the movie's role in that moment of movie history.