Celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of his most notorious works, trash-master director John Waters has partnered with The Criterion Collection to present a brand-new restoration of his film “Pink Flamingos.” It’s a film that was very hard to find and watch for a long time – especially since it’s not really available for streaming – and there’s a reason a film like this exists within such a prestige film collective.
When the enigmatic Divine (playing an exaggerated version of herself) is driven to live on the run because her and her family have been dubbed the ‘filthiest people of all time’, everyday life for them becomes a constant game of sneaking, being filthy, and loving life. But when a jealous couple from Baltimore decide they will do anything it takes to steal that title from them, the levels of antics and depravity hit jaw-droppingly low levels.
This is a film that has engrossed a reputation as one of the gnarliest, hard to watch grindhouse flicks of all time. John Waters is a director who has reveled in his guerilla-filmmaking style and trashy presentation. I had only seen one of his films (‘Multiple Maniacs’) a few months before seeing this, but when the Criterion edition was released, I knew I had to seek it out.
However, nothing I was told could have prepared me for this madness.
What is hailed as ‘an exercise in poor taste’, is a film that contains invasive, vulgar depravity that makes you need to shower. The movie contains various taboos such as on-screen animal mutilation (in one very hard to watch scene), cannibalism, incest, torture, and much much more. It ends with a moneyshot that precedes the reputation of the film itself, which I won’t spoil because I honestly forgot all about it and it was the icing on the cake of dirt I just finished swallowing.
It’s a movie that overflows with creativity, originality, fun, and sincerity. On the surface it seems like a shocking film just for the sake of it, but it’s really a film that is as anti-Hollywood as they come. The story is of little importance – even though it does carry on traditionally all the way through – and it’s really just the catalyst that allows the reality to become full of disgusting, dirty acts that artistically work.
It’s impossible to not laugh at some of the absurdity that is happening here, and some scenes might be shocking enough to leave you speechless at the same time. The animal death and the very ending still live rent free in my mind.. and while I despise it for the very things I’ve had to witness, it’s almost freeing to see a reality where this is not only acceptable – but it’s fully embraced. It feels completely lived in as if you are actually just watching a documentary about the country’s trashiest family.
It’s another film that needs to be seen to be believed, but there’s a bunch of reasons why this film is so dearly beloved by cult film fans and aspiring filmmakers alike. Even if what you see pisses you off, you can’t help but admire it. It’s a presentation that makes you want to shake the director’s hand while wearing nitrile gloves, and with a doofy smile on your face all you would do is call him a bastard.
Buy the ticket and take the trip at your own discretion, but I promise, it’s an unforgettable experience. It’s explicit, it’s intense, and it’s batshit levels of dark comedy.
“Pink Flamingos” is currently on Bluray/DVD from The Criterion Collection.
‘Til Next Time,
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