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Desperate Living (1977)
It's filthy, it's feeble, it's a classic!
This film is a true gem. For followers of sleazy cinema, this is a must- see that will never lose its entertainment value.
A rich neurotic housewife kills her husband in a fit, with the help of her maid. Now the duo have to escape and take up a new life in Mortville, a slum-like trash community made up of filthy criminals, perverts and other oddballs. The inhabitants are harassed daily by the gruesome Queen Carlotta, and have to make the best out of their desperate, feeble lives.
What is striking about this film is that it has a self-ironic feel, I don't know whether it is intentional or not. Every part of the story is over-the-top for a reason, and John Waters certainly makes use of "more is more".
Most of the acting is mediocre at best, but it all comes together perfectly for that trashy feel. Mink Stole is hilarious as Peggy Gravel, she plays her neurotic character without flaw.
Even though the acting, the story, the budget and everything else is as bad as you'd expect, the film is extremely humorous and the actors have enough comical timing to make you laugh again and again. This in combination with the irony of it all made me appreciate the film on a whole other level than similar sleaze-productions.
The most interesting aspect of this film however, is its gender perspective. All the important characters are -without exceptions- women, the men are nothing but objects or servants in this film. Apart from regular Hollywood productions, there is lots of diversity among the female characters, and everyone is equally filthy. There are lots of elements in the movie to strengthen the image that Mortville is ruled by females; the Queen and her male servants/sex slaves, the beating up of males by females, and extensive lesbianism. John Waters paints a picture that is, again, far from today's supermodel standards, where females rule and are free to be as disgusting or beautiful as they want.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who would like to watch something different, because it's way underrated.