IMDb > Desperate Living (1977)
Desperate Living
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Desperate Living (1977) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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7.2/10   3,172 votes »
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Genre:
Tagline:
It isn't very pretty.....
Plot:
A rich housewife enlists her maid's help to murder her husband; they go on the lam and end up in Mortville, a homeless community built into a garbage dump. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
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NewsDesk:
(25 articles)
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User Reviews:
Bad movie hygiene See more (55 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Liz Renay ... Muffy St. Jacques

Mink Stole ... Peggy Gravel

Susan Lowe ... Mole McHenry

Edith Massey ... Queen Carlotta
Mary Vivian Pearce ... Princess Coo-Coo

Jean Hill ... Grizelda Brown

Brook Yeaton ... Bosley Jr. (as Brook Blake)
Karen Gerwig ... Beth
Jay Allan ... Kid
Al Strapelli ... Doctor Evans
George Stover ... Bosley Gravel
Turkey Joe ... Motorcycle Cop
Willie Brooks ... Pieman
James Yeaton ... Dead Bum
Ed Peranio ... Lieutenant Wilson
Steve Butow ... Lt. Grogan
Channing Wilroy ... Lieutenant Wilson
Steve Parker ... Goon
Pete Denzer ... Goon
Chuck Yeaton ... Goon
David Klein ... Goon
Ralph Crocker ... Goon
Peter Koper ... Goon
Sally Albaugh ... Hag
Kenny Orye ... Eater
Warren Newcomb ... Page
Roland Hertz ... Muffy's Husband
Pirie Woods ... Baby Sitter
Damien Overholser ... Baby In Refrigerator
Ed Butner ... Referee
H.C. Kliemisch ... Big Jimmy Dong
Paul Swift ... Mr. Paul
George Figgs ... Herbert
Marina Melin ... Shina
Cookie Mueller ... Flipper
Pat Moran ... Bathroom Pervert
Sharon Niesp ... Shotsie
George Hulse ... Sex Change Doctor
Delores Delux ... Nurse
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Frank J. Butler ... Harmonica Player (uncredited)
Richard Ellsberry ... Patient in Waiting Room (uncredited)
Alan Reese ... Extra (uncredited)

Directed by
John Waters 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
John Waters 

Produced by
James McKenzie .... associate producer
William Platt .... associate producer
David Spencer .... associate producer
John Waters .... producer
 
Original Music by
Chris Lobingier 
Allen Yarus 
 
Cinematography by
Thomas Loizeaux (director of photography)
John Waters 
 
Film Editing by
Charles Roggero 
 
Art Direction by
Vincent Peranio 
 
Costume Design by
Van Smith 
 
Makeup Department
Jon Aaron .... assistant hair stylist
Celeste Hall .... assistant hair stylist
Christine Mason .... hair stylist
Van Smith .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Robert Maier .... unit manager
Pat Moran .... production manager
 
Art Department
Delores Delux .... assistant art director (as Dolores Deluxe)
Steve Parker .... assistant set designer
Ed Peranio .... assistant set designer
Vincent Peranio .... set designer
 
Sound Department
Richard Ellsberry .... assistant sound
Robert Maier .... sound
 
Special Effects by
Ed Peranio .... special effects
Tom Watkins .... special effects
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Laurel Douglas .... still photographer
David Insley .... assistant camera
Kevin Weber .... lighting assistant
Steve Yeager .... still photographer
 
Music Department
Chris Lobingier .... music arranger
Allen Yarus .... music arranger
 
Other crew
William Platt .... video
Alan Rose .... credits
Pete Garey .... production advisor (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
90 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:18 | Australia:R | Canada:18A | Canada:16+ (Quebec) | France:-16 | France:-18 (original rating) | New Zealand:R18 | UK:18 | UK:(Banned) (1977) | USA:R (re-rating) | USA:X (self applied)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Production designer Vincent Peranio cooked a real rat so that it could be "eaten" during the opening titles.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Mole first meets Peggy and Grizelda she tells them that there are no toilets in Mortville, but at the lesbian bar there are toilets, where Peggy is harassed by the 'bathroom pervert'.See more »
Quotes:
Queen Carlotta:[giving one of her nude guards a spanking] This will teach you to arouse royalty.See more »
Movie Connections:
References Yojimbo (1961)See more »

FAQ

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22 out of 22 people found the following review useful.
Bad movie hygiene, 7 August 2004
Author: Paul from United States

All of John Waters' early films, beyond being purposefully shocking and repulsive, have this really tangible dirty, raunchy quality to them. They're movies with bad hygiene, like the porno movies whose actors have dirt under their fingernails or pimples in all the wrong places. Waters has a special gift for compiling the most disgusting items and the most disgusting combinations of items (lesbian glory holes, marshmallows and Cheez-its, egg-addicted 250-lb women, bleeding gums and French kissing, 'Surfin' Bird' and anal lip-syncing) for maximum effect, filming everything in grainy, artless 16mm with alternately wooden and over-the-top line-readings not dissimilar to the acting in a porno flick.

If you've seen Waters on television, he has a certain sophisticated charm to his wit, and perhaps a dirtier director wouldn't have the right sensibility to make films as authentically dirty as this one, or the discretion enough to choose performers as dirty-looking as Turkey Joe and Kenny Orye. The fact that Waters does not show any contempt or opinion about his subjects is important. He has this open, accepting non-judgmental affection for everyone in his films that makes the films themselves OF the filth they are depicting rather than simply about that filth, and he embraces those of notoriety and dubious character such as Patty Hearst and Liz Renay. He's subversive not by philosophy or decision, but by nature. Subversiveness for Waters means a good time. What distinguishes his work as "underground" rather than "exploitation" is that he celebrates the depravity and freakishness of his performers rather than exploiting.

Every single character in 'Desperate Living' is a sociopath, as it takes place primarily in a fairy-tale town called Mortville, to which housewife Peggy Gravel (Mike Stole) and her 300-lb black maid Grizelda (Jean Hill) flee after the latter murders Stole's husband by sitting on his face. Everyone in Mortville is trashy and, well, desperate, and there's a vivid pre-punk vibe here amongst psycho-dyke Mole, played by Susan Lowe, and others, and in the garish, tacky colors of the town's decor, which Waters reports was constructed entirely out of garbage with only one exception.

While I find Waters' 'Pink Flamingos' boring once the shocks become familiar, 'Desperate Living' is a fascinating movie to watch. It's probably Waters' most depraved and outrageous movie, and the funniest of his pre-'Polyester' movies. You get to see the hefty Jean Hill naked, rolling around in bed with Mink Stole, and you get to see Waters regular Edith Massey in all her snaggletoothed wonder as the wicked Queen Carlotta, being pleasured by one of her many leather-clad man-servants. You'll see this and, if nothing else, probably want to catalogue these bits to friends or show them the film, just to get a rise out of them.

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