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I first saw Pink Flamingos in the mid 70's, back before VCRs. A
college dorm had rented a print, and in a drunken state I've not achieved
again this past quarter-century, I went to see it. Having finally seen it
again only recently, this time sober, I'm here to tell you... it looks a
hell of a lot better when you're drunk. Those who call it "great" or a
"masterpiece" are plain wrong, they don't recognize what they are seeing.
The camera work is a hair's breadth above home movies; the acting and story
are... well, they are better than in porn flicks and even some
straight-to-video movies, but, jeez, not by much. And then there is the
primary purpose behind Pink Flamingos -- to make the most disgusting,
revolting movie possible, perhaps even conceivable.
But... BUT... Pink Flamingos is distinctive. Even if you - yes YOU out there - the reader, wanted to make the most disgusting movie in the world and even if you had the money and the skills that John Waters lacked in 1972, you couldn't make a film as good as he did. Yes, GOOD! You couldn't because, first of all, I doubt you have the same quality of acquaintances that Waters had and put into into his early movies. And it's not just a matter of WHAT they will do, but HOW they do it. Waters' actors had a style, no matter how bizarre, that is rarer than most depravities. Could YOU recognize the virtues of, let alone even find, someone like Edith Massey? I doubt it. Which leads to the second point.
Pink Flamingos has panache! It has a free-wheeling sense of daring-do that borders on innocent fun. So, although the movie is so disgusting that I wish it had never been made, it is not a squalid film. And I don't think YOU, the reader, or anyone other than Waters could have pulled that off. It doesn't make Pink Flamingos a masterpiece. It does make it unlike any other film.
"Pink Flamingos" is a cult classic.The plot of this film revolves around the throwdown challenge to Divine's supremacy as the filthiest person alive."Pink Flamingos" contains some memorably repulsive scenes like a sex scene with a chicken and the scene where Divine eats fresh dog feces.Yes,the movie is shocking and funny at the same time,but the biggest laughs come from the actors' lines.Check out especially this line from Divine:"Kill everyone now!Condone first degree murder!Advocate cannibalism!Eat s***!Filth is my politics!Filth is my life!".On the whole,I really enjoyed this film.Still its tagline "An Exercise in Bad Taste" should be taken to heart and even those used to the gross out movies today may find this gem hard to stomach.Highly recommended.
On the surface "Pink Flamingos" could easily be dismissed as a nostalgic piece of shock cinema. With an unparalleled level of notoriety -- based almost entirely on the final scene, the film has become a curiosity of sorts and a right of passage for those testing their own boundaries of decency. Beneath this seedy exterior however, lies a brilliant and biting satire of society's obsession with fame and the lengths one will go to in order to achieve it. This theme is relevant even more so today than it ever was. Just consider the over abundance of reality TV shows, for example 'Fear Factor' a show boasting contestants eager and willing to outdo one another by performing a variety of dangerous stunts and eating unimaginable specimens how is this any different than the characters in 'Pink Flamingos' attempting to outdo one another in an effort to claim the dubious title of the filthiest people alive? Society is (and has always been) captivated with sensationalism; from the Roman era and the coliseum packed with bloodthirsty audiences, to modern day and the likes of the 'Jerry Springer Show' (of which Babs Johnson and the Marbles would make excellent guests!!). The purpose of "Pink Flamingos" is to not only put a hilariously depraved spin on the fascination with celebrity but to also provide a cautionary tone to the dissolution of society itself. The performances are all top-notch; especially the ever-dependable and over-the-top Mink Stole, as heartless Connie Marble; and scene stealing Edith Massey, as Edie 'The Egg Lady'. It's amazing that the film is over thirty-years old because the message is just as fresh today as it was back in 1972.
Like those who listened to radio reports about the attack on Pearl
Harbor, every one who has ever seen PINK FLAMINGOS can tell you exactly
where they were when they first saw it--and some thirty years later the
movie is still one of the most unspeakably vile, obnoxious, repulsive,
and hilariously funny films ever put to celluloid, guaranteed to test
the strongest stomachs and the toughest funny bones.
Filmed with a close-to-zero budget and some of the shakiest cinematography around, PINK FLAMINGOS tells the story of two families that compete for the tabloid title of "The Filthiest People Alive." Just how filthy can they be? Plenty: the film includes everything from sex with chickens to what I can only describe as a remarkable display of rectal control to a heaping helping of doggie doo, and I guarantee that you won't want to eat an egg for at least several weeks after seeing it.
The cast is either wonderful, atrocious, or atrociously wonderful, depending on how you look at it. The star, of course, is Divine... and to describe Divine as the BIGGEST drag queen on the planet would the understatement of the year. She is a mammoth creature given to BIG eye makeup, BIG orange hair, and BIG expressions--she is the Charleton Heston of drag, and whether she is almost running down a jogger, pausing to use the bathroom on some one's front lawn, or startling real-life shoppers by taking a stroll along a Baltimore sidewalk she is both unspeakable and unspeakably funny. Others in the cast include Mary Vivian Pearce, Danny Mills, and the ever-appalling Edith Massey as members of Divine's family; and Mink Stole and David Lochary as the white-slaving, baby-selling couple who challenge Divine's status.
It should be pretty obvious that PINK FLAMINGOS is not exactly a movie that will appeal to just every one, and viewers who know director John Waters only through such later films as HAIRSPRAY and CRYBABY will be in for a major jolt. But if you want to see something so completely different that even Monty Python couldn't imagine it, this is the movie for you. Just make sure you eat before you see it, because you probably won't want to eat afterward--and you might want to keep a barf bag handy just in case.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
There is no film to put beside Pink Flamingos by way of comparison. It is a film genre of it's own. I read and hear reviews of this movie that express disgust and horror and I picture John Waters chuckling. This was the intent, it was meant to upset the status quo and in "politically correct" times that we live in, isn't it a small surprise to see this film come to the forefront again? This is a movie that will freak out the uptight for as long as it exists in any media. It was meant to. As much as "Clockwork Orange" talked about "ultraviolence" this movie is all about ultra-bad taste. We can numb ourselves to sex and violence but Pink Flamingos is a movie you just will never get used to. There will be something in this movie that will get to you. As a last resort to make sure everyone is offended before you leave the theatre, John includes the always discussed poodle scene. No reason for this scene, except to make sure he gets you and also to make sure you leave talking about it. Obviously filmed on a budget, and using Water's stock cast, this is a movie simply about a contest to see who are the filthiest people alive. All the characters are bizarre in one way or another. This movie reminds me of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" in that everyone in the film has something odd about them and both movies joyfully celebrate these uniquenesses. Not a movie to buy for Mom on Mother's Day... but worth seeing just to say you did.
My 10/10 rating of course applies only if you're willing to get
completely and utterly grossed out*. Because you know that only John
Waters can do that. In "Pink Flamingos" (his directorial debut), he
portrays two families locked in combat to see who can be the filthiest
person alive. What Divine famously does at the end pretty much answers
the question. But even aside from that, the movie is basically an
excuse to shock people beyond what anyone would usually imagine. You
had better have a very strong stomach to watch this movie. Even some of
the lines are rather mind-blowing.
*Otherwise, avoid this movie like you would the ebola virus!
A very strange, disturbing but intriguing film. I don't think I ever needed to see what a human being can do with his butt, and I doubt if I'll ever want to see it again. That said, there is much to be amused by, like Divine's take on Jayne Mansfield's classic walk in "The Girl Can't Help It" and putting slabs of meat between her legs in a grocery store. A gritty feel very much like a Russ Meyer film. Generally poor acting, with the notable exception of Divine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mild spoilers: I like it when a filmmaker is able to surprise or shock me. . I hate people who only go to movies that make them feel good and never challenge them. I admire directors who try to push people's buttons. I bring this up because while watching Pink Flamingos (1972) my most profound feeling was one of extreme boredom. Apparently a lot of people are convinced this movie is disgusting and shocking, which leads me to believe they've been living under rocks or the roof of a protective, loving family. Throughout most of PF, the bad pacing and incredibly bad acting were enough to obscure whatever `shocking/disgusting' things might have been happening on screen. The acting in PF is by far the worst aspect of the film and no doubt greatly contributes to the shoddy pacing. No one gives anything even approaching an amateurish performance. The actors shout out their extremely bad lines with great force yet at the same time manage to sound as if they're reading from a cue card. Either that or they seem so self-conscious that it impossible to ignore the fact that they're trying to act and are failing miserably. Take the four reporters at the end who show up to cover the trial of Raymond and Connie Marble. They were not even for one minute convincing enough to portray fake reporters let alone real or even satirical reporters. So we sit through truly agonizing conversations, which makes scenes seem even longer than they really are, as we sit and endure and finally beg for the people in the film (I refuse to call them actors) to shut up. Eventually they do, but Waters mostly fills these pauses with long shots of something or other (often people walking), followed by brief spurts of `action' (in the kicking down of doors sense of the word) and confrontation, which inevitably lead to yet more excruciating discussions. Basically, it takes far too much time and far too much talk to do anything in Pink Flamingos, which at 108 minutes would still be too long if cut to 60. There are perhaps 35 minutes of concise action and less than 10 minutes of salvageable dialogue that could be culled into a far better film. In truth, there was one aspect of the movie that offended me. I refer, of course, to the scene in which Crackers has a three-way with Cookie and a chicken and in the process swings the chicken around by its neck. It didn't bother me at all that he seemed to be raping Cookie, but I was incensed by the abuse suffered by that animal. As if swinging it around and stuffing it between them wasn't bad enough, the actions taken by Danny Mills (the man playing Crackers) appeared to have killed that chicken. I understand that animals are often used in movies and may come to be injured or even killed by accident, but when that injury seems to be the direct result of abuse by a cast member, I find that utterly unjustifiable. In fact, I find it so reprehensible that that removed any possible impact the film may have held. I went through the rest of the film thinking `Crackers is a filthy asshole being played by a guy who is a cruel jerk.' Perhaps part of the problem is that I wasn't even born until 9 years after PF was released and didn't see it until a full thirty years after it's first screenings. Whatever it is trying to satirize means nothing to me. I can understand why it might have been offensive to audiences in the 70's (the swearing, the violence, the full frontal nudity) but most of it is old hat to me (okay, except for Divine eating dog feces at the end. I will admit that I found that relatively gross). South Park, Meet The Feebles, Dead Alive, all of these not only shocked me more, were more gruesome (the climax of Dead Alive used 300 liters of blood shooting out at 5 gallons a second - from a lawnmower), but are also far more clever than Pink Flamingos
Babs Johnson (Divine) lives in a trailer with her son Crackers, her
daughter Cotton and her mother Edie (Edie Massey). She's in competition
with a couple named Connie and Raymond Marbles (Mink Stole, David
Lochary) to be named the filthiest person alive. The film shows their
attempts to outdo each other.
This film is very much NOT for everyone. It's a in your face no holds barred assault in bad taste. Crackers has sex with a woman with a live chicken between them while his sister watches; the Marbles pick up female hitchhikers, impregnate them, keep them chained in the basement and sell the babies to lesbian couples; Divine and family have a party which includes cannibalism etc etc. It's disgusting but, in a way, not unwatchable. It's SO over the top and is so unapologetic about it that it's kind of fascinating. As director John Waters might say, it's bad taste done well. Also it's kind of amusing to watch--the acting is so wretched (especially by Massey) that you just watch it in disbelief. A friend laughed out loud at how bad Massey was (she improved in later pictures).
This is NOT for people who are easily offended. Even though it's over 30 years old it's STILL shocking. However if you have an open mind and can take a lot of extreme behaviour this is a must-see. The only part that really was too much is what Divine does at the very end.
The filthiest person alive, Divine, is using the codename Babs Johnson
and living in a trailer in the woods with her retarded mother Eddie
(Edith Massey), who loves eggs; her mad hippie son Crackers (Danny
Mills); and her mate Cotton (Mary Vivian Pearce). The envious couple
Connie (Mink Stole) and Raymond Marble (David Lochary), who abduct and
impregnate female hitchhikers to sell their babies to gay and lesbian
couples, using the money to invest in heroin and sell in schools, hire
Cookie (Cookie Mueller) to have sex with Crackers and spy Divine to
compete for the title of "the filthiest people alive". When the
competition begins, Connie and Raymond Marble learn why Divine has this
The underground "Pink Flamingos" is outrageously sick, disgusting and grotesque but also funny. John Waters' intention is certainly to shock the audiences and is certainly very well succeeded. The bizarre characters present some of the most scatological and gross scenes I have ever seen, like Divine chewing excrement of dog, or Crackers "singing" with his anus, and there is no limit for the sick mind of John Waters. The viewer has to have empty stomach to see the whole movie. In the Extras of the DVD, John Waters presents deleted scenes, inclusive with the fate of Cookie. The trailer used to promote the film in 1972 is hilarious, since it does not show any scene, but people being interviewed about the movie. My vote is five.
Title (Brazil): "Pink Flamingos"
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