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It's amazing that one of John Waters best films would be his first feature length film. After making three short films, cult film director directed 'Mondo Trasho', a silent movie filled with a rock and roll soundtrack. It certainly shows some of the surreal brilliance that was to come in his movies and has a very dream like feeling. The plot, if you can call it that, is of a modern day Cinderella (Mary Vivian Pearce) who is run over by the sexy driver Divine (Divine). For the rest of the day, Divine and the corpse wander about all of Baltimore trying to find ways to get out of this nightmare and meet up with reporters, mental patients, a topless dancer (Mink Stole), saints, pigs and an insane doctor called Dr. Coathanger (David Lochary in arguably his best performance). It's a strange piece of fiction with the occasional unsynchronised dialogue. It hints at the brilliance that John Waters would achieve with the likes of 'Female Trouble', 'Hairspray' and 'Serial Mom'. It's actually quite good even though Waters always jokes about how bad it is and how over long it is. I found it be very fast paced and funny and satiric proving that John Waters is the best satirist in modern day America and always puts a new view on things. The acting in this film is also endearing. Although none of these people knew how to act, that's the beauty of many of John's earlier films. Divine's performance consists of looking sexy and doing exaggerated movements all the time. Lochary is good in this film, if only he hadn't died so young, I'm convinced he would have won an oscar. It's also an interesting note for Waters fans to watch this because everyone looks so young. Truthfully, the living members of Waters crew like Pearce and Stole don't really look old today but it's amazing to see them pre-cult fame. Although, it's a very hard film to get hold of and even if you do, it will probably be in bad quality, it's a must for Waters fans and people interested in him as well since it's one of his more accesible films.
All of John Water's films have their quirks and their staying power and each one is truly a beautiful piece of art but nothing comes close to "Mondo Trasho", John's earlier trash epic. Not only does it have a faster pace than some of his other films but the "story" keeps on coming with more and mnore drug induced imagery. Divine, John Water's regular performer, delivers an hilarious over the top performance as a gum chewing trashy splendor, driving about looking for men until she is distracted by a nude hitcher and runs over an un-named fashion fanatic played by Mary Vivian Pearce. In the course of the next 24 hours, they go through a variety of different adventues, each one unique. This film boasts some great performances by the likes of Mink Stole, David Lochary, Divine and Mary Vivian Pearce. The film also features a great soundtrack, comprised of hundreds of John Water's favorite tunes. No good tune is left untouched in this trash epic. The film is definitely a more mild one than, say, "Pink Flamingos", meaning that this film doesn't have a lot of gross acts although it does have chickens being killed for real and toe sucking. This John Waters film is definitely one of his most unkown and one of his best.
John Waters feature length film debut is a schlocky montage of crazy
events following Mary Vivian Pearce and Divine as they travel
throughout the gutters and alleyways of "Charm City" Baltimore. I can't
do this film just by trying to describe the events that transpire. This
film has to be seen to be believed. There's no dialog in this film,
most of the soundtrack is a collage of 50's and 60's pop music, They're
used as dialog and as a Foley track. I wonder if Mr. Waters received
permission from the performers for use in this film?
Filmed on a shoe string budget and shot on 16mm uses a cast of friends, Waters hit the Midnight Movie/cult circuit big time. Only a sign of things to come.
Recommended, if you can find it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Possible minor spoilers ahead.
John Waters's first official feature, Mondo Trasho proves (as if there was any doubt) that "it isn't easy being Divine." Jean Harlow-lookalike Mary Vivian Pearce (who, incidentally, prided herself on the resemblance) walks around Baltimore, smokes a Kool, reads Hollywood Babylon on the bus, and has an erotic encounter in a public park. A very young Divine, made up like an elephantine Jayne Mansfield in gold lame capri pants and halter top, speeds around in a 1959 El Dorado and promptly locks her eagle eyes on a sexy blonde hitchhiker. The women's lives collide, and then...things get REALLY outrageous!
This picture is a must for underground film buffs. It's a witty, cleverly made epic that comes off surprisingly well, considering the lack of funds and experience behind it. The use of music is undoubtedly the best I've ever experienced; everyone from Little Richard to Janis Joplin to Mae West to Perry Como turns up on the soundtrack to perfectly compliment the wonderfully raw, black-and-white visuals. Complete with Cinderella stories, a topless tapdancer (the ever-wonderful Mink Stole), a sinister moo-cow glaring at the camera, and so much more than I could ever mention here, Mondo Trasho maintains a bizarre authenticity throughout. An avant-garde trash treat; those who found Titanic to be their particular cup of Drano best steer clear. Thank you, Dreamland!
Seeing any film by John Waters is an "at-your-own-risk" movie experience -- the story of CINDERELLA is one of several fantasy sequences within the film with "foot" or "shoe" themes. The WILD SOUND takes some adjustment for persons used to lip-synched dialogues. The movie could have been edited down to 77 enjoyable minutes, but I think Mr. Waters was preoccupied with including as much shock/schlock into his footage that he possiby could. IT'S WORTH SEEING AT LEAST ONCE. It is curious that Mr. Waters never made a twisted 'JEAN HARLOW' bio story, considering that Mary Vivian Pearce was a startling look-a-like during her teen years. The film is in black & white, and the opening scenes are astonishing!
When people ask me what my favorite John Waters movie is, I have to place a tie between "Mondo Trasho" and "Female Trouble". Even though "Mondo Trasho" contains hardly any dialogue, it has that certain Waters touch that makes it a classic in my book. Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce, and David Lochary are the real stars of the show, but Mink Stole does a nice job as a topless tapdancer in an insane asylum. Divine looks gorgeous, as usual, and that little jiggle while walking down the Baltimore sidestreets in her gold lame pantsuit is undeniably sexy. Mary Vivian Pearce has her biggest role in her entire Waters career and resembles a trashy photocopy of Jean Harlow. David Lochary uses his lack of dialogue to an advantage by using outlandish facial expressions and matter-of-fact physical mannerisms. His expression of mixed surprise and disgust when Divine discovers him operating on Mary Vivian is hilarious! While there isn't a lot of great acting involved (save for the three aforementioned and Bernica Cipcus as the hillbilly nurse), the soundtrack is the real reason to watch the movie. If you don't love the movie as much as other Waters movies, just pop it into the VCR and listen for the music while cleaning up house, working with photo albums, God knows what else. Culled from Waters' personal album collection (and a few from his friends and parents, I'm sure), the music spans from rock and roll to opera, from jazz to acid rock. Of course, all of the music is illegally used with no regard for copyrights, which shows Waters' got some balls! But that sadly means that the possibility of this movie getting re-released is nil. It would cost a bloody fortune to buy the rights to music from Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Janis Joplin, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and the hundreds of other artists featured here! But this should please all Waters fanatics and despite its lack of trademark Waters dialogue, it is wonderfully sleazy and appealing throughout.
Mondo Trasho is a great movie. The movie is funny, yet serious, and really makes a statement. The plot is thin, yet confusing even though there is no dialogue. At times, the movie gets a little sickening, like the very first scene. Or the Dr. Coat Hanger scene. But what makes this movie great is the music. I recommend this movie to anyone, that is, if you can find it anywhere.
"Mondo Trasho" stars a lot of the original Dreamlander crew; Divine,
Mary Vivian Pearce, David Lochary, Mink Stole -- you name it. This is
about the only thing that kept me watching Mondo Trasho was seeing our
beloved cult actors prance across the screen and of course Divine shop
lifting (who would have thought?). It's interesting to see the
Dreamlander crew get up to their old guerrilla tricks, but tedious to
sit through its long, silent and uneventful duration.
You can see John Waters used this a reference when he made Cecil B. Demented as the cast and crew were arrested during the making of this film for public obscenities (I won't spoil it). The biggest problem with this film John Waters said himself; this was made a ninety minute film when it should have been twenty minutes. With scenes dragging on and on making you skip about you wish it was a short film. Due to bad pacing a lot of scenes drag on after the humour has gone, the music becomes repetitive and there is no dialogue which is a huge letdown because it's a hoot to listen to Dreamlander's have conversations whether it be arguing or bonding John Waters always writes hilarious dialogue but as I said, there is none so it's a letdown. There are of course some redeeming aspects (David Lochay's character) and other scenes with public nudity which provide some insight to the early Dreamlander years.
Mondo Trasho isn't the most perfect movie Waters made, it's littered in amateurish film making but this is a perfect look into what Waters and the Dreamlanders were up to before feature film making. If you aren't a die-hard fan of Waters' films or the Dreamlander's then this will be a waste of time because this is definitely something to be seen by the fans of Waters. This will never see the light of day for a DVD release as copyright laws will forever forbid it (the soundtrack) but you can download it thanks to the internet; it's rare but nowhere near as rare as the early 60's short films. So if you're enough of a fan-boy and you've seen all of John Waters' movies and wanted more like I did then see Mondo Trasho because you're never going to see Divine or David Lochary act ever again.
Mondo Trasho, the legendary John Waters' debut film, is rife with pacing issues, ugly camera-work, and all around monotony from beginning to end. The ugliness of the film overall is unsurprising, as this is Waters' lowest budget ever at $2,100, about $13,000 today. However, understandable as some of the films' problems may be, it is still mostly a chore to sit through. Still experimenting with forms of storytelling, Waters dug through his record collection to populate nearly the entire film with a collection of 50s and 60s pop music, opting out of traditional dialogue to essentially make a bizarre, trashy silent film with very few sequences of actual speech (3, by my count, each lasting less than two minutes in this 86 minute film). There are a few sequences in which this strange approach to the storytelling actually does convey it well. For example, early on in the film the nameless character played by Mary Vivian Pearce is being stalked by Danny Mills' also nameless foot fetishist, and through cutting between them sets contrasting moods with their two soundtracks. This technique is the main way in which this method of storytelling is put to actually creative use; to juxtapose two different characters' emotional states and set a tone. However, unfortunately it seems that this was Waters' only coherent idea with the project; most of the time the music seems as meandering as the drawn out sequences, which are often drained completely of any initial humor after minutes and minutes of seeing a single bizarre scenario on screen. There are about three thoroughly enjoyable sequences in the entire film that point towards what Waters would later become capable of: Divine's introductory scene, the scene involved Dr. Coathanger, and the final three minutes of the film. These scenes, the last of which contains one of the only instances of dialogue in the entire film, manage to capture the trashy, often perverse and transgressive humor of Waters in genuinely interesting ways, but could not be stretched to feature length. The fact of the matter is that in Waters' infancy as a filmmaker he manages to pull together some interesting ideas and an intriguing mode of storytelling, but sadly comes up short on nearly all fronts due to overlong scenes and repetitive sequences.
One can safely expect to sit still for a couple of hours, block-out the
world around them, and pay attention to what's happening upon the
screen for the duration of a film, right? Well, for most films, yes.
This isn't like most films, lol.
"Mondo Trasho" is one of my favorite John Waters flicks. I first rented this film back in 1998 after seeing "Pink Flamingos" the previous year. I've definitely seen "Mondo Trasho" over a hundred times by now. It's a real treat for us John Waters fans but it definitely is NOT for your common movie-goer.
You must already be familiar with and appreciate John Waters' film-making in order to get anything out of this film. It's also advisable to do something while watching this film. Yes, you read that correctly - do something while watching this. It's a great film to have on while working on your computer or while organizing and cleaning-up the place. As long as you've got a view of the screen at all times, you'll be OK. I don't think I've ever watched this film sitting down and doing nothing. Pay attention too closely and you will either grow impatient or fall asleep.
This is a very turbulent film. It's like a weird dream. It's grainy, gritty, and garish. The soundtrack jumps around erratically and can sufficiently mystify the viewer upon hearing what at first seems like odd choices in music. That impression quickly gives way to irony that is often times invoked by the soundtrack playing against its accompanying visuals. The effect is often times striking, sometimes silly, other times charming, and many times just plain bizarre. Though, there never is a bad musical-visual sequence, as all of Water's choices blend together beautifully to create an audio/motion-picture collage that feels more like a tweaker's nightmare than an Academy Award-generating production. But that's what makes it so great!
Putting this soundtrack together was obviously a monumental task for Waters and his efforts are probably what makes this film what it is. As I've already mentioned before, this film is definitely not one to sit through. It's like those videos that play upon multiple T.V. screens at dance clubs - nobody really pays too much attention to them but they provide an orgy of visuals, teamed-up with music and designed to stir the senses far beyond what most people are ready for.
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