Pink Flamingos (1972) (NC-17)
John Waters' "Pink Flamingos" is one of the best worst movies...or so it was sold to me. It's an exercise in bad taste, repulsive, nauseating, and so self-important that you could almost just think that it was all about something deeper than face value; but I kind of doubt that. The movie is a cult classic in the worst sense of the word, because in the cold light of day, the grievances that the film presents can not be analyzed as any sort of social commentary...they don't deserve that. It's just a movie about shock.
I think something to keep in mind is that I watched "Pink Flamingos" completely sober in the middle of the day. I'm not sure if this was the right decision or not; but I think it was one of the more illuminating choices that I've made. "Pink Flamingos" is nothing if not a recipe for midnight showings and drinking games; but as far as cinema goes, hmmmm...I would maybe say that it's mislabeling to even say it as such.
Here we have to pause and explain the difference between critical and enjoyable movies. If I'm being a snob, I watch a movie and think pretentious thoughts throughout and then consider myself to be more important than I am. As a moviegoer, if the plot doesn't have holes, if the film is well-constructed all around, I like it. But there has to be something said for a movie that tries to cross boundaries of accepted visual horrors, because it's no longer trying to be a crowd pleaser, it's definitely aiming on making a statement and whether that statement is "fuck the system" or not, who knows?
"Pink Flamingos" begins observing a remote pink trailer in the middle of an abandoned field. Divine (Divine) has been deemed the filthiest person alive and now has to flee from the law. She has shacked up with one of her admirers Cotton (Mary Vivian Pearce) and her son, Crackers (Danny Mills), as well as her egg-obsessed, mentally ill mother Edie (Edith Massey).
Her neighbors, the Marbles (David Lochary and Mink Stole) are annoyed, no enraged that Divine has continuously been called the filthiest person alive and they want to take the title from her. It becomes a battle between who can do the worst thing on screen. The Marbles have a scam going where they kidnap girls, have their manservant rape them, and then sell their babies to lesbians. Wow, charming and sweet, right?
Divine, on the other hand, is just a grotesque personality. She puts steaks in her underpants and preaches the mantra "Kill everyone now!" which while slightly amusing with all its implications kind of pales when the amount of blood and sexual vagrancies finally fade.
For a movie made 40 years ago, there are still some things that "Pink Flamingos" does that film makers today would be unwilling to make. If that sounds like your cup of tea, go on, you filthy pervert.
The movie's narrator is a curiously comical voice who seems to relish and condemn the acts of both the Marbles and Divine. Yet this is not enough to make a commentary on media and society...maybe I'm beating a dead horse with that idea—poor choice of words.
As the Marbles become more determined to knock Divine from her podium, she decides to take matters into her own hands. It becomes a shit show, and really I mean that in the most unfortunately literal way.
For some the movie is a masterwork, but for me it's just shock factors lined up after each other. It's sensationalized and maybe that's good for some; but for me, the B-movie standard of it was a little indigestible.
Posted by Micah Jones