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

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Desperate Living -- Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole) has just been released from a mental hospital when she decides her husband is trying to kill her...


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Down 13% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
View company contact information for Desperate Living on IMDbPro.
It isn't very pretty.....
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 »
Plot Keywords:
(26 articles)
User Reviews:
Undistilled Waters See more (57 total) »


  (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

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
90 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
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?

The flashback of the babysitter throwing a party is based on the sort of prank John Waters would pull when he babysat in high school.See more »
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 »
Bosley Jr.:[Kids are in the attic playing doctor] Breathe hard. Do it again.
Beth:[Giggles as she breathes] Let me do it to you.
Peggy Gravel:[Enters room and goes berserk when she sees the kids] SODOMITES!
[Rushes to them]
Bosley Jr.:[Crying] We're only playing!
Peggy Gravel:[Slapping them] Is that what you learned in private school?
Beth:Don't, Mother, we're only playing!
Peggy Gravel:[Hysterically to herself] NUDE! NUDE! NUDE!
[Suddenly seriously]
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Divine Trash (1998)See more »


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Undistilled Waters, 17 May 2006
Author: char treuse from United States

The only John Waters film to date set in what is virtually an alternate universe -- the town of Mortville, Maryland -- a disgusting shantytown that inexplicably is governed by its own fascist Empress (Edith Massey), who is both cruel and unusual, and who lives in a Disneyland-like castle. This film is hard-core, undistilled Waters, working in his Classic Period that includes "Pink Flamingos" (his breakthrough film) and "Female Trouble" (possibly his greatest work). Filming without his leading lady/leading man, Divine, "Desperate Living" emerges as more of an ensemble film featuring notorious Hollywood starlet Liz Renay, Waters regular Mink Stole, and Jean Hill, discovered and making a striking debut herein. "Desperate Living" is audacious and fevered and yet has a naive quality to it, typical of Waters' artistic charm. Filmed on a shoestring budget, the film benefits from creative and eye-filling sets by Vince Peranio and costumes by Van Smith. It is a fusion of the surreal, the self-consciously rude and outrageous, and an homage to bad movies past. Acted out in a raucous, strident fashion favored by the director that punches every word across with triple exclamation points, "Desperate Living" is the pinnacle of Waters' wild style. It was followed by a comparatively more demure "Polyester" with Divine returning to the starring role, toned down for wider audience appeal. Needless for me to add, this film isn't for everyone nor was it meant to be, as is obvious right from the opening credits.

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