Poisoned by Love: The Kern County Murders

(aka Murder So Sweet and Lady Killer, Larry Peerce, USA, 1993)


Poisoned by Love is a true-story telemovie that puts a new spin on a tired plot idea.

Harry Hamlin (L.A. Law) plays Steve, a wild, seductive guy who has married many women, put them all under his psychological spell, and has recently taken to killing them – or so it seems.

What makes this story a novel one is that all the surviving ex-wives are feisty Southern types who get together each week with Steve's Mum (Eileen Brennan) for an investigative natter about the unfolding crisis.

Eventually Edie (Helen Shaver, giving an excellent performance) emerges as the one who doubts Steve the most, and starts pursuing the case against him. Not only has Edie been the most deeply scarred by her relationship with Steve, she also has the greatest insight into his psychosis, which stems from his ominously announced "problem with women".

Unravelling the personal and social implications of this tale with finesse, director Larry Peerce (A Separate Peace, 1972) fashions an absorbing, thought-provoking thriller.

© Adrian Martin September 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
home    reviews    essays    search