Multiple Maniacs (1970) Poster

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A triumph deluxe
David17 May 2004
The films of John Waters aren't to all tastes, but if you like, say Pink Flamingos, then you'll love Multiple Maniacs.

Waters' film-making career can be divided roughly into four categories:

  • unseen first works (Roman Candles, Hag in a Black Leather Jacket, Eat Your Makeup)

  • early filthy works (Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble)

  • more mainstream works (Polyester, Hairspray, Crybaby)

  • later missing-the-mark works (Serial Mom, Pecker, Cecil B. Demented)

In my opinion, there's no question that his early filthy works are the best and that Multiple Maniacs is perhaps the best of the three (or at least tying with Pink Flamingos).

Some of the reviewers here criticize the film for being badly acted or low budget. That's missing the point. Waters' films were never meant to couple the acting of Olivier with Industrial Light and Magic special effects. These are low budget gems that deliver equal amounts of shock and laughter.

Multiple Maniacs is one of Waters most perfect films in terms of the dialogue. The continual arguing between Lady Divine and Mr. David (the wonderful and elegant David Lochary) is almost operatic. The rest of the characters (most from John Waters early ensemble, the Dreamlanders) is absolutely outstanding. Mink Stole and Mary Vivian Pearce are pin-point perfect and Edith Massey is a gem in her screen debut. The late, great and much-missed Cookie Mueller gives the best performance of her career as the free wheeling daughter of Divine.

A black and white treasure from John Waters early career. Brilliant dialogue, hilarious scenes and a bravura climax make Multiple Maniacs a cinematic masterpiece.
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To Heck With Method Acting
csjlong21 September 2004
A lot of people look at the performances in Waters' early films as crude but I think both Multiple Maniacs and Pink Flamingos (and, to a lesser degree, Mondo Trasho) are a testament to the talent the Waters' troupe really had. Divine has probably been discussed enough though I think she remains sadly underrated as an actress but what stands out for me in Maniacs is David Lochary's performance. He steals the show and improbably manages to provide some genuine soul to a contemptible character, perhaps because he looks positively saintly compared to Divine. Lochary is funny, sincere, scared and ultimately empathetic as the helpless, brainwashed victim of the implacable force which is the Lady Divine. You couldn't just hire regular actors to play the Lochary or Divine roles - you had to have the real deal and the magic of these movies does come from the superior casting.

I think Waters' early films are by far his best, the movies he made before he learned "how to make movies." Some of his later work is cute but never as engaging and fresh as Maniacs and Flamingos. How exactly did Waters manage to combine slimy depravity with wide-eyed innocence in equal doses?

The rosary job is perhaps the finest scene Waters ever concocted and then there's Lobstora, one of the most inspired moments the cinema has ever brought us.

I don't think of Maniacs as mere camp. I think it's genuinely great film making with far more verve and inventiveness than most of the so-called "well-made" Academy fare.
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Probably the most personal movie by John Waters
Jaimz15 February 1999
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen all of John Waters' films, but something in this one seemed to stick out. I noticed that in his other movies, the characters are rarely developed, and if they are, you never get a glimpse at their personal lives.

This film is different in that way... it begins as racy as all of his other films, with "Lady Divine's Cavalcade of Perversion" a circus for perverts, drug addicts, homosexuals, and weirdo's. Mr. David, Lady Divine's boyfriend, wants Lady Divine to let Bonnie into the cavalcade, but she quickly dismisses the idea.

From here on, the film switches to a bizarre, and long, view of the characters personal lives. This is done by, long monologues, long shots in which the camera does not change, and very long scenes. These long scenes aren't that badly written, but it is more that they are real, and not part of a movie. After the first 10-15 minutes characters seem to have disassociated themselves from the original plot of the film, and it becomes some sort of a deranged soap opera. But just when you think that this film is different from all other of John's films, a giant lobster appears out of nowhere (and for no reason), named "Lobstora", and it rapes Divine. Divine then goes insane and goes on a rampage, and is then put to death by the national guard.

Besides the fact that Divine is killed in the end, it seems to be a prequel to a young Divine's life that is later portrayed in "PINK FLAMINGOS". This because in "PINK FLAMINGOS", Divine, is supposedly in hiding from the FBI, for murder. This murder which happened in "MULTIPLE MANIACS" of basically all the characters.

All in all, this is most definitely a must see for John Waters fans, it will bring new meaning to his other films.
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Manson family, Waters' style
Joseph P. Ulibas5 October 2003
Multiple Maniacs (1970) was Waters' second feature length film. Heavily influenced by the Manson Family murders, Waters creates this film about a band of murdering, sideshow freaks/performers who travel from town to town robbing and murdering their rich,nosy customers. This is a weird film that showcases what Waters likes to do best. Try and repulse the audience as much as he can (mirroring the side show performers themselves).

Unfortunately, most of the humor is pretty dated and the very low, low budget might turn off most viewers (if they were not repulsed by the first twenty minutes). Other than that, it's a very enjoyable movie.

Waters will finally perfect his film-making a few years later with the back to back to back releases of Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble and Desperate Living. Shot on 16mm, B/W.

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This film looks so incredibly cool.
capkronos12 April 2002
I love the grainy, inky black and white look of this movie, the bad cuts and scratches and even all the jumps in sound. It's just so gorgeous and couldn't be duplicated today...just a strange feeling is captured here, amplified because it's populated with so many hedonistic weirdos and perverts. Of course, these perks only exist because Waters and his crew were completely inept in the technical ways of cinema, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

Content wise...this has at least a flash or two of brilliance, which is impressive for a film that cost around "5000" bucks. The opening at the Calvacade of Perversions is great ("She is an auto-erotica copraphrasiac and a gerontophiliac!"), but modern audiences might not know what to make out of all the dated cultural references (too much Manson/Tate stuff)...then there's an incredibly tedious and overlong delusion with Divine narrating her version of Christ. Even more time is padded with endless scenes of characters sitting and/or lying in bed talking (and often forgetting their lines), plus topless jitterbugging from Cookie Mueller, people riding around in cars and Mink Stole ("the religious whore") and Divine walking down the street.

Despite all that, the closing sequences (starting with Lobstra) make up for it and are just priceless. Best use of the song "God Bless America" right here folks! And the film is still completely unique and original 30+ years later, so you really have to admire it on that front as well.
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A very spiritual film
wlbwlb7 April 2002
The key to understanding this, John Waters' most profound film, is a understanding of its Roman Catholic content and allusions. Divine's long interior monolog inside the church, essentially a long meditation on being different, the Way of the Cross, and the crucifixion scene are all keys to the film's message. Notice that the actors who play the Way of the Cross and crucifixion scenes are the same ones who played in the Carnival of Perversions which opens the movie. And who plays Christ? The heroin addict. Now Waters doesn't use these actors again just to save on budget. The meaning is clear: those people that you smug, suburban do-gooders rejected and made fun of are Christ and his followers. Remember that Christ didn't hang out with sanctimonious, middle class people, but rather with whores, fallen women, the sick, the rejected, the stigmatized, the sinners. Waters draws the parallels very clearly, but most people view the film in such a middle-class way that they can't see Divine and Waters' troupe of hippie- weirdos as allegorical Christ figures. The real giveaway to this interpretation is the actual text of St. Francis's late medieval Way of the Cross which Waters quotes verbatim in the film. And of course, did you ever think about the literal meaning of "divine." Poor, abused Divine's symbolic sacrifice at the claws of Lobstora is yet another variation of the Passion theme. A very literary film indeed.
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The only Waters film to offend me
Casey-5229 April 2000
Of all of John Waters films, this is the only one that offended me in some way. But more on that later. I was surprised to see that this early John Waters movie was available on video, presuming it would be long out of print (like "Mondo Trasho" and "Female Trouble")! It can usually be found for sale dirt cheap or for rent easily.

Divine stars as a brunette for the first time in Waters' first sound film. The sound, cinematography, and editing is real rough, but it gives "Multiple Maniacs" a priceless documentary-like quality that is enhanced by the near flawless delivery of Waters' hilarious dialogue! Waters' early cast is here and two new additions (Cookie Mueller and Edith Massey) liven things up a bit. Great performances worth catching are given by Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Cookie Mueller, and Rick Morrow. Mink Stole gives one of only two mediocre roles in Waters' films (the other is "Mondo Trasho") and Edith Massey is not as great as she would be in her subsequent appearances in "Pink Flamingos", "Female Trouble", "Desperate Living" and "Polyester"! Watch close for Cookie Mueller and Mink Stole in cameos as two of the snobby patrons of the Cavalcade of Perversions! The music is fantastic, more copyright-infringing oldies that are great listening (including Elvis Presley's "Just Because" and a bunch of unidentified but classic instrumentals).

Now why this movie offended me: the rosary job and the crucifixion. I just thought these scenes are the sickest things I've ever seen done in a Waters film (topping even the dog sh*t-eating in "Pink Flamingos")! The crucifixion is very well done, but just seems in VERY bad taste and the rosary job just defies any description. It's not even fun for me to watch! But everything else about "Multiple Maniacs" is classic Waters. The film does get a bit boring after Divine's rape by Lobstora, but the ending shows the lust for violence found in Vietnam Era America, juxtaposed with Kate Smith's "God Bless America" playing in the background. Not for a Waters fan who has only seen "Hairspray", that's for damn sure! Underground film fans will find lots of great techniques to use and psychotronic film fans will eat it up!
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Mink Stole is thoroughly delicious!
CharlesCrumb11 July 2002
The very best John Waters film! Great performances by Mink Stole and Divine in particular. A collection of circus freaks gather locals into their various tents and then go about murdering them. Filmed in a beautiful black and white, and full of fantastic and original performances that will stay in your memory for quite a while. Divine is on quite a religious adventure in this one, and Mink Stole is very devilish and strange as an epic whore of sorts. The supporting cast consists of the classic John Waters regulars, so if you haven't seen this film before, go about renting it or purchasing it. And also, the ending of this film is one of the most surreal movie watching experiences I have ever had! Beware of the lobster!
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A Lobster Monstre makes it all worthwhile
Mr Pants15 November 1998
This film suffers from what a lot of low-budget-inexperienced-director films suffer from: long intervals in which nothing happens in an attempt to get to the better parts of the movie. This one has it is spades, which makes it hard to sit through to get to the highlights. But the high points are some of the most inspired of any John Water's flick: the surreal appearance of "The Emperor of Prague," played by small boy in full monarch regalia who guides Lady Divine, and the completely unsolicited cameo of "Lobstora," the enormous lobster prop who, like nearly everybody in the early films, has its way with Divine. I found these scenes far more interesting than the film as a whole, despite the (possibly unintentional) social commentary of the opening sequence. Here, a crowd of "straights" visit the Carnival of Perversions and witness horrors ranging from the "Puke Eater" to the "Homosexuals." Each attraction is viewed with similar disgust from the suburbanites, yet they make no effort to leave the show, which seems to call to Water's fascination with the American public's fascination with the fringe of society.
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Multiple Maniacs
Scarecrow-8825 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Multiple Maniacs" is my first John Waters' underground film and I wasn't sure what to expect. I have read extensively about these films' gleeful willingness to offend, the dirt cheap quality of his productions, the way his movies used real locations and comprised the screen with performers with limited acting skill. The reputation was to me quite intact as "Multiple Maniacs" follows the descriptions I had read about to a tee. Waters doesn't strive to shoot his movie extravagantly and he must have directed his movies with little rehearsal or preparation as his actors/actresses stumble/fumble over their lines(and look to, I'm guessing, cue cards of dialogue they might forget off screen)quite a bit. But, Waters' films seem to thrive on the ugly quality of all I have mentioned above, in particular, the subject matter and unpolished narrative(what little there is).

The movie focuses on Lady Divine, her boyfriend Mr. David, and other deviants who embrace a sleazy lifestyle of habitual sex, drugs, and murder. Divine is the star attraction of a "carnival of freaks" show where those involved in the act lure curious suburbanites, with the customers not knowing they are bait to be fleeced by them. Mr. David, who has become fed up with Divine and her increasing hostility(and penchant for impulsive violent outbursts), has become romantically linked with Bonnie(Mary Vivian Pearce), a girl who desperately wants to become part of the Cavalcade Pervert. As Divine plans to murder David, he and Bonnie prepare to gun her down when she arrives home!

Certainly memorable is the image of an overweight transvestite Divine stabbing her former lover over and over with a butcher knife, pulling organs from his torso, complete gratification for her sadistic deeds on her face. Oh, and how she gets so worked up she starts not only fondling his guts and heart, but chewing away on them without restraint! The way she gets caught up in her ecstasy of violence, plunging the knife in multiple times, foaming at the mouth like a rabid animal, it's all so surreal and hilarious. There's this really warped scene where Waters, in his Herscell Gordon Lewis moment, shoots a crime scene, Divine's grisly handiwork, repeatedly from several angles, or back and forth, his camera dwelling on what had just transpired. Other completely bizarre scenes include Divine being assaulted by a giant lobster(!), a lingering close-up of Divine(..with smudged make-up, eyes crazed, wig disheveled) venting mania, and Divine walking out into the street (after finding her dead daughter, wearing nothing more than a robe and undergarments!) in a daze of hysteria, utterly unstable. Waters just follows Divine as she goes on a rampage, jerking a woman and her groceries from a station wagon(stealing it!), going ballistic with a sledgehammer on this Plymouth which contained a smooching couple, charging toward city folk like a rhino as they form a frightened herd running for dear life, and the climax where National Guardsman reign her in for extermination. MM also has a lengthly portrait on Jesus Christ with Divine quoting scripture from the bible(I kid you not!)as he is being led to the crucifix(this as Mink Stole, with an unhealthy appetite for inducing sexual relations in churches, also using them as places to bed herself, is engaged in a lesbian tryst with Divine, Waters juxtaposing these different scenarios!)and Divine's always naked daughter Cookie shacking up with a hairy chested man she had just met while mama carries on a conversation with them while they are in bed! The essence of perversion, MM is quite a starting place for me in regards to understanding Waters' style and I know what I'm ultimately in for. In Waters' trashy screenplay, littered with foul, profane exchanges between the principles, there's mention of the Tate murder, which was hot off the press, insinuating Mr. David's involvement and how Divine is using this as blackmail! I'm simply amazed at Divine's eagerness to go wherever Waters so desired to shock an audience.
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Worth seeing a bit of sacrilege since it's the debut of the great Edith Massey!
MartinHafer16 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The best reason to watch this early John Waters film is because it is the debut of one of the funniest and strangest actresses in history, the snaggle-toothed Edith Massey. While she is in a relatively normal role (and nothing like the Egg Lady in PINK FLAMINGOS), it's great to see her continually messing up her lines even worse than usual.

As far as the rest of the film goes, it's a heck of a lot better made than Waters' previous full-length, the almost unwatchable MONDO TRASHO. Now I am NOT saying that MULTIPLE MANIACS is normal--no, it's very sick and perverse. But, it has a real sense of story and narrative even given its low budget. In many ways, despite being in black and white, it's a lot like later films like POLYESTER, FEMALE TROUBLE or DESPERATE LIVING. TRASHO, in contrast desperately needed editing and just looked like a home movie made by schizophrenics and lacked humor!!

The film begins with David Lochary announcing a free "Cavalcade of Perversion Show" and rounds up a bunch of squares who said they were disgusted but still gladly attended! It's all pretty dirty and gross, but also pretty funny hearing these "upright" people talking about how sick it was and loving every minute of it!! Then, in a twist, the patrons are all bound and robbed. Later, it seems Divine becomes bored with this and decides it's just easier to kill people and skip the show! It seems that Divine is like a goddess or cult leader of this group of self-proclaimed "scum of the Earth" and like her persona in later films, he/she acts like the most beautiful woman in the world. If you like the joke, then you'll enjoy the film. The only problem for this group of lovable thieving sickos is that Lochary is discontented and wants out of the gang. He apparently can't leave, though, as he was apparently involved with the Manson family murders of Sharon Tate--Lochary the one who wrote "pigs" all over the walls with her blood. This and the later scene where Divine talks quite casually with her naked daughter as the daughter makes out with a member of the Weatherman terrorist organization were in incredibly bad taste back in 1970. Today, given almost 40 years, it made me laugh quite loudly--and I felt ashamed of myself. But it was just so sick and surreal to see this scene made in horribly bad taste but with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Next, in a very bizarre scene, Divine looks up to see a divine messenger there to rescue her, "the King of Prague" (a cute four year-old dressed like a king) and they go for a walk to the local church. There, Divine thanks god for sending the king to rescue her and thinks about the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000. In this version, there are only about a dozen and they feast on cans of tuna and bread. Divine prays and asks for forgiveness for her life, but then confesses that she's really never done anything particularly bad!! "The uneducated members of the clergy" might disagree, Divine reasons, she's always justified in her murders! The life of Jesus is then acted out by Waters' repertory group (with Edith as Mary) and it's actually reasonably accurate. At the same time, he/she has a love scene involving a rosary with Mink Stole in one of the pews--complete with loud moaning. I think all this probably would offend a few folks out there! Next, Lochary and his bimbo, Mary Vivian Pearce plot to kill Divine. Instead, they accidentally killed Divine's nympho daughter (no great loss). In the meantime, Divine and her new girlfriend, Stole, kill a cop for kicks. When the final showdown occurs, Divine hacks Pearce and Lochary to death and then eats Lochary's innards--raw, even. But that's not the end of this scene, the room is filled with bodies and fake blood.

So, there's been a "Cavalcade of Perversion Show", sex in church, multiple murders, cannibalism and lots of what could possibly come next?! Yep, you probably guessed it...Divine is suddenly attacked and raped by a giant lobster. And, amazingly, the sex was great. For the next few minutes, the film is padded--with Divine walking about the neighborhood smashing things, foaming at the mouth, stealing cars and attacking a small crowd until she is eventually shot dead by a group of hippies who are supposed to be with the military (yeah, right--get haircuts, you beatniks!). And so ends this sick little romp.

Overall, this film is very sick and perverse and definitely a guilty pleasure. As sick as it is, however, aside from all the sacrilege, it's not nearly as gross and unappealing as the next film, PINK FLAMINGOS, which sets the standard for grossness in a John Waters film. Not for the faint-hearted, but still funny and reasonably watchable--just NEVER let your kids, friends or neighbors know you like this sort of crap!

FYI--"Extreme unction" is the term meaning to give the last rites to someone on their death.
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Its beauty is its pus-filled heart
fertilecelluloid12 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not some nut who will throw himself off a building for Waters or lick shoe polish from the Master's boots. I have rather fixed opinion on the different stages of the director's career. The early Super-8's (the few I've seen) are short, crude and original; the first features, including "Multiple Maniacs", "Mondo Trasho", "Pink Flamingos", "Female Trouble" and "Desperate Living" are all very interesting, though not all classics; the films that followed from "Polyester" are Waters Lite, strange birds documenting Waters' struggle to please the mainstream financiers and broaden his own creative output. Naturally, I like the middle period.

When I think of "Multiple Maniacs", I think of David Lochary inviting conservative punters to come and seeing the most disgusting show of their lives. "See Puke Eater!" he screams with pride, and in that solitary invitation, he sums up why we loved the 70's and early 80's John Waters. Waters showed us filth without the sermon, without the hypocrisy. He acknowledge our love of sleaze, our passion for the putrid, and our lust for freaks. He came across as honest, as a misfit himself, an artist determined to rub our noses in the dirt we secretly craved.

Well, some of us did.

I prefaced this review with my declaration that I'm not a Waters brown-noser. Far from it. Despite its admirable desire to shock and sicken, "Multiple Maniacs" is also very boring at times and in dire need of a ruthless edit. The Lobster scene goes on forever and the trek to Calvary is almost as long as Gibson's "Passion of the Christ".

The beauty of "Multiple Maniacs" is its pus-filled heart, not its aesthetics. The aesthetics would come later with "Female Trouble" and "Desperate Living" and seem counterfeit with truly awful trash such as "Cecil B. Demented", a film I want to murder.
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Just another day in Baltimore
Tromafreak2 May 2009
Positively revolting!! A tasteless piece of low-budget garbage, with not one redeeming value. It's just too bad John Waters doesn't make them like this anymore. Not that he ever really did. Multiple Maniacs is a bit different from the other Waters trash classics of the 70's. A bit more bizarre, and unpolished, and just a tad more unrealistic. Multiple Maniacs mostly comes off as a rough draft for Waters next and most famous trash epic, Pink Flamingos. Multiple Maniacs is the first real example of what this John Waters guy was all about, rubbing you the wrong way. Meet the cavalcade of perversion. Posing as a traveling freak show, an odd gang of criminals, led by Diving rob and/or murder unsuspecting shock enthusiasts, just looking for a thrill. Divine is an irritable, outlandish hog of a woman just looking for a reason to off someone... anyone. Lately, that boyfriend of hers, Mr. David has been a real pain in the ass, and today, he just might get it, that is, if he doesn't get her first. As the would-be love birds plot on each other, and cheat on one another with their new girlfriends, we, the audience are subjected (treated) to vulgar atrocity after outrageous one-liner after obscene sex act. A delightful little movie indeed. We got all our Dreamland favorites, Cookie, Mink, Mary, David, Divine, and even our pal, Edith pays us a visit. Everyone brings their A games, A, of course standing for amateur, really, unpolished doesn't even begin to describe what's going on here, but out here in Exploitation Country, flaws such as screwed up lines should be expected and embraced, if you didn't know, then now you know. Multiple Maniacs was Waters' first film that wasn't silent, as well as his last black & white. For more colorful trash check out Female Trouble and Desperate Living. As unpolished and inept as it might be, this is one of the most mean-spirited, unflinching, and flat-out rebellious comedies I've seen, and I passionately recommend it every bit as much as Pink Flamingos, unless you're Catholic, in that case, never mind. 9/10
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indie191 April 1999
Multiple Maniacs is excellent. Better than excellent. This is my favorite Waters film. It is funny, yet serious. A few lines give you a chuckle, like "And then she inserted her rosary into one of my most private places." This movie, unlike other Waters movies, moves into the well-crafted characters' personal lives. My first Waters movie was Pink Flamingos, which I adore. But Multiple Maniacs ties Pink Flamingos in every way. If you like Waters, or if you don't, buy Multiple Maniacs. This is one of the strangest movies (other than Pink Flamingos) that I have seen. Divine is fabulous in this movie. She is excellent. This movie is scary, bizarre, and somewhat sacreligious. So, if you're not of the faint at heart, weak stomached, or religious freaked, at least rent Multiple Maniacs.
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Lady Divine's cavalcade of perversions, the sleaziest show on earth!
framptonhollis8 April 2017
If a movie in which an obese drag queen gets comically raped by an obviously fake giant lobster does not sound as if it would be your cup of tea, chances are you will not enjoy "Multiple Maniacs". Fans of John Waters, on the other hand, will find plenty to love in this weird and wild glimpse into a world of filth.

Perverted, silly, shocking, and blasphemous, "Multiple Maniacs" is one of film history's least conventional masterpieces. With the atmosphere of a sleazy grindhouse flick directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini with a dash of tongue in cheek satire, "Multiple Maniacs" is a mind blowingly nasty, but also highly entertaining cinematic freakshow. Beneath its over the top story, it is almost a documentary. The line between fiction and fact blurs as imperfections stick out like sore thumbs. Due to the tongue in cheek, raw nature of the film, the slight technical flaws scattered throughout only help the film, as it reminds the audience that it is an independent work created on a shoestring budget by a now-iconic and tasteless group of friends.

The early cinema of John Waters almost feels like a parody of the cinema of Andy Warhol. Warhol's (more plotted) films often consisted of raw, sleazy, and occasionally hilarious footage of his superstars. Waters' films consist of raw, sleazy and constantly hilarious footage of HIS superstars, the biggest difference being the artist's intent and the levels of vulgarity. Warhol may have had his borderline pornographic moments, but Waters' films are jam packed with constant, almost unbelievable perversions. There are scenes in this movie that actually made my jaw drop, especially a certain sequence taking place in a church that I cannot even describe without both laughing and wanting to vomit.
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"Multiple Maniacs" Returns to the Scene of the Crime - Baltimore!
Bill Hughes20 September 2016
The iconic filmmaker John Waters told the capacity audience at the Charles Theatre that in 1969, he had to borrow money from his dad to make the trashy cult classic, "Multiple Maniacs." It didn't go over that big with moviegoers when it was released in 1970, but it did somehow slide by the Maryland Censor Board.

Waters then had a running feud over censorship with the Board and its then chairlady, the late Mary Avara. How this film, with its scenes of sickening depravity, serial murders and shocking blasphemy, got pass her could be the making of yet another flick.

But, "Multiple Maniacs," has always had its niche audience with comedy/horror lovers. In any event, the movie featuring the late Divine has been restored and is headed for national re- circulation, via Janus Films.

Divine was played superbly by the actor Harris Glenn Milstead. He was a boyhood buddy of Waters. He died on March 7, 1986. Milstead was known not only as an actor but also as a singer and drag queen. Before launching his acting career, he had been a hairdresser in Baltimore. He's buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Towson, Maryland.

The movie was filmed mostly in and around the Baltimore area. Fell's Point, a wee bit trashy itself in that bygone era, was in a lot of the shots. It brought in just over $25,000 at the box office. Some of the opening scenes, Waters said, were filmed in his back of his parents' home in Baltimore County.

At the showing on Monday, September 12th, there were some talented folks, like Pat Moran, Susan Lowe, Mink Stole, Vincent Peranio and George Figgs, in the audience. They had worked on the film in various capacities and were known as the "Dreamland" acting troupe.

George Figgs took on the role of Jesus Christ - a high calling - under any circumstances. He was more than adequate. And, Mink Stole nailed it as the Religious Whore. While, Divine carried the flick in the demanding, hilarious role of Lady Divine.

As for Peranio, he also designed the giant lobster, known as "Lobstora," for the movie. They said it cost about $20 for the material. It looked real to me and that's the bottom line.

Waters introduced each of actors present to warm rounds of applause. To learn more about the film's restoration, check out the article in "Variety" dated, August 6, 2016.

Rotten Tomatoes, a movie review website, Walters reminded the audience, has given "Multiple Maniacs," a hundred percent rating. It is his "highest rated film." Who knew?

The restored version will carry the tagline, "Restored! Reviled! Revolting." It opened in early August of this year at one of the Waters' fave hangouts, the Provincetown Film Festival.

You can still catch this "celluloid atrocity" at the Charles for a 9 pm showing on this coming Thursday evening, September 15, 2016. This is your final warning!

What kind of reaction did "Multiple Maniacs" get on September 12th? Let me put it this way: It was a non-stop laughing event.

(By way of full disclosure, this writer has had cameo roles in two of Waters' films, "Dirty Shame" and "Pecker.")
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Okay, *I think* giant lobster rape is where I draw the line…
Coventry19 December 2014
I'd like to consider myself a very tolerant, broad-minded and versatile film fanatic. I've seen and reviewed more than 3.000 titles in the horror, cult and exploitation genre and I'm constantly looking for obscure films that push my boundaries in terms of bad taste, gruesomeness and extremity. With my recent discovery of John Waters' "Multiple Maniacs", I think I found my personal limit. Even though I really liked the director's most notorious accomplishment – "Pink Flamingoes" – I seriously had to struggle myself through this one. I presume it's the combination of amateurish direction, total absence of structure and the non-stop irritating voice-over monologues that didn't work for me. You can tell straight from the opening credits that "Multiple Maniacs" will become an exercise in perseverance. The nearly endless cast list – presumably all of Waters' Dreamland studios pals – simply appears on a white board, without any sort of animation of musical guidance. This definitely sets the tone for the rest of the film: cheap, filthy and largely improvised on the spot. And yet, in spite of being unendurable, "Multiple Maniacs" is also strangely and inexplicable fascinating. I remained glued to the screen although half of the script didn't make any sense to me. If it weren't for the detailed plot summary available here on the website, I confess I might not have been able to follow. Divine and some other cast members (like Cookie Mueller and Edith Massey) are unique performers, that's for sure, and a handful of scenes are insanely perverted, like the rosary job and – of course – the giant lobster rape. The numerous references towards the Manson family and Sharon Tate's grisly murder are excessive and quite shameless, since the news item was still a very hot & shocking topic around the time of release. I honestly can't recommend this, but simultaneously I don't want to discourage potential viewers from "discovering" this semi-legendary trash monument. Whatever you do, proceed with caution…
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"This Is the Show You Want,,,The Sleaziest Show on Earth!"
kgraovac14 December 2010
Multiple Maniacs is on par with John Waters' Pink Flamingos when it comes to sleaziness and filth, though not quite as polished. The black-and-white cinematography gives the film a certain raw and crude quality, but that outrageous, hilarious Waters' dialogue, though in its infancy stages here, is already wielding an undeniable power over those of us who love trash cinema. Some scenes drag on a little longer than necessary, such as David and Bonnie lounging around in bed, or Cookie and Steve talking about riots but there are others, such as the opening in the circus tent, and the "rosary job" that more than make up for it. Be sure to look and listen for Divine and Cookie flubbing their lines, Divine's wig almost falling off as he is being violated by Lobstora, and Mink Stole trying not to laugh as a male pedestrian walks by when she and Divine are discussing the murder of Mr. David and Bonnie. All in all, I recommend watching this only AFTER you have seen Hairspray, Polyester, Female Trouble, Pink Flamingos, and Desperate Living, in THAT order. By that time you will have decided if you are a true John Waters fan or not.
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It just doesn't fade
dvlaries7 November 2008
John Waters is quoted in Hoberman & Rosenbaum's "Midnight Movies" (1981) as saying, with "Multiple Maniacs" he had finally flushed all the remaining religion out of his system, and that his intent was to "scare the world." In 1970, he likely did so with this. One shudders to ponder what he'd have to come up with Today, to achieve the same goal.

However, when one considers the parade of human failure and misery that willingly allows itself to be showcased in a weekly strip's worth of Jerry Springer episodes, Waters' Dreamlanders, not only in "Maniacs," but in "Flamingos," "Female Trouble," and "Desperate Living" too, come off as a misfit bunch of lovable zanies.
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So bad it's good, but only if you're already a Waters/Divine Fan
RRingGo7 March 2000
Even as someone who enjoys films that are a little odd, I found this movie strange. My major complaint is that there are several moments when the film just goes way too slow. However, it is worth the time it takes to finish it.

John Waters first tried to get New Line to distribute this film, but was turned down. He followed this with Pink Flamingos, which almost would seem like a sequel to this film(without ruining the end of this film, it's not possible unless the entire end of this is all in Divine's mind).

Scenes that make this film worth it are the beginning, the Rosary scene between Mink Stole and Lady Divine, and of course the Lobster scene. It's also interesting the way that Waters tried to have this movie really about murder of Sharon Tate before it was discovered who did it. You can see an interesting scene film after the fact where Divine reads about Manson "taking credit" for her work.

And remember "Think of the stations of the cross... think of the stations of the cross"
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"Think about the Stations of the Cross!"
Vince-57 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Possible minor spoilers.

Many people would describe John Waters films as horrific (and rightly so), but Multiple Maniacs is the only one that really approaches the horror genre. The title, in fact, is a nod to Herschell Gordon Lewis's cult classic Two Thousand Maniacs.

The plot finds the Cavalcade of Perversions pitching its tents in Baltimore. The exhibits include a man orgasmically fondling a bra; a girl going down on a bicycle seat; a pornographer snapping pictures "as his slut of a girlfriend exposes her sacred reproductive organs"; "two actual queers kissing each other like lovers on the lips"; and the Puke-Eater ("He laps it right up for ya--he love it!"). The show climaxes with the appearance of psychopathic Lady Divine, robbing and murdering the patrons (look for bewigged Mink Stole, Cookie Mueller, and Mary Vivian Pearce among the victims). But Divine is highly unstable ("My nerves are cracking!") and controls boyfriend Mr. David (Lochary) with claims of his involvement Sharon Tate's final party ("He did something to the most beautiful girl in Hollywood!"). However, when she learns of his ongoing affair with a blonde bimbo (Pearce, known to friends as Bonnie) who like to "perform acts" during screenings of Inga...well, the camel's back is broken, and she can't let them live another minute. But it doesn't end there.

Maniacs is admittedly choppy and talkier than most of Waters's work (this was his first film with synched-up sound, and he takes advantage of this fact), but underground film fans still have plenty to grab on to. The Dreamlanders are a treat to watch, particularly the glorious Divine. She's sort of a massive Joan Crawford, complete with black wig and exaggeratedly huge lips. Shots of her feverishly stabbing with a butcher knife and rampaging through Baltimore with a sledgehammer wield an undeniably creepy power. Edith Massey makes her debut, playing herself (a barmaid at Pete's Hotel) and the Virgin Mary (complete with towel on her head); she doesn't have much to do, but she's always a delightful presence. Cookie has a bang-up entrance, holding onto a pipe and dancing topless to "Jailhouse Rock," and Mink contributes to one of the most blasphemous sequences in cinematic history. With a great no-budget credits sequence (set to what sounds like the intro to "Endless Sleep") and a see-it-to-disbelieve-it cameo by Lobstora the 15-Foot Broiled Lobster, this may be amateurish, but it displays more energy and creativity than any of the multiplex slop clogging up the film world.

"You're a maniac! A maniac who cannot be cured!"
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John Waters is my hero!
bdcubgso27 December 2001
This is my favorite of all the John Waters movies. The script alone is priceless. It is really amazing to hear David Lochary, Mink Stole and Divine spout out lines of harsh, cutting dialogue...but to appreciate it, you really need to see the other wonderful movies he has done, especially Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble...well, just about anything! I highly recommend it to anyone with a sharp sense of humor. If you don't, you will not appreciate it.
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A Cavalcade Of Perversion In 1970's Baltimore
Dalbert Pringle11 December 2017
F.Y.I. - Before there was John Waters' "Pink Flamingos" - There was John Waters' "Multiple Maniacs" (released in 1970) which (IMO) should really be re-titled "Multiple Morons".

With the word "AMATEUR" clearly written all over it - This regurgitated exercise in low-budget/low-life sleaze (Baltimore-style) tried way too hard to shock and disgust.

And, in its feeble attempt to accomplish its atrocious mission - "Multiple Maniacs" quickly deteriorated into a tiresome bore with a decidedly "white-trash" mentality tacked on for good measure.

Filmed in gritty b&w - This celluloid atrocity is truly a perverted novelty of early-1970's cinema that (I found) only really came to life in its final 15 minutes of outrageous insanity.
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Wallowing in the filth with John Waters and friends
Woodyanders16 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A group of degenerate misfits mount a traveling show called the Cavalcade of Perversion, which goes from town to town with the specific intent of upsetting middle-class squares. Complications ensue when fearsome and ferocious ringleader Lady Divine (the one and only Divine in peak crazed form) gets whipped up into a bloodthirsty rage after she discovers that her smarmy boyfriend Mr. David (played to the slimy hilt by David Lochary) has been cheating on her.

The second feature by John Waters naturally serves as a gloriously crude, lewd, and rude upraised cinematic middle finger that's done as a deliberately appalling affront to good taste, proper decorum, and basic moral decency. However, despite such blithely disgusting moments as the infamously blasphemous rosary job scene and the outrageous climactic rape committed by a giant lascivious lobster, this picture proves to be way too gleeful in its giddy depravity to be considered genuinely offensive. Moreover, the enthusiastic cast attack the raunchy material with lip-smacking aplomb: Mary Vivian Pearce as the eager Bonnie, Mink Stole as fawning groupie Mink, Cookie Mueller as Divine's ditsy tramp daughter Cookie, and Edith Massey as helpful barmaid Edith. The choice rockabilly soundtrack hits the right-on groovy spot. A total scuzzy hoot.
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