There are of course many film directors that put two fingers up to America, but John Waters put his thumb right up its arse! The duke of disgust, the saint of bad taste, Waters has made a career out of making vile, stupid, repulsive and sexually explicit movies: none more so than Pink Flamingos (1972) - one of those rare films that’s just got to be seen to be believed! Waters not only directed but wrote, produced, shot, edited and scored this ‘transgressive black comedy exploitation film’
This nauseating grindhouse movie stars Waters high school friend Glenn Milstead better known as the deliciously outrageous Devine an actor mainly associated with performing as a female drag queen and recently the subject of a wonderful documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz I Am Devine (2013).
Devine lives under the pseudonym of Babs Johnson who is on the run from the police for a number of unexplained murders. She lives in seclusion on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland in a pink caravan which she shares with her mentally retarded mother Edie, an obese women who inhabits a playpen and has an addiction to eggs, her delinquent son Crackers who enjoys lethal chicken sex and her travelling companion Cotton who gets her sexual pleasure from watching Cracker having sex.
When Devine is proudly named ‘the filthiest person alive’ by a tabloid newspaper her bitter rivals Connie and Raymond Marble are extremely jealous and set out to destroy her. This pair of despicable foot fetishists kidnap young girls, force their manservant Channing to impregnate them and sell the babies to lesbian couples, this in turn finances an inner city heroin ring which caters to high school children.
This highly colourful married couple despatch Cookie to have sex with Cracker and learn where Babs Johnson and her entourage live. This intimate act involves one of the most infamous scenes in the film. With Cotton looking on, Cookie and Cracker have sex while crushing a live chicken between them! The other infamous, and best-remembered scene in the film is the concluding one where Devine scoops up fresh dog excrement, eats it, gags, and smiles for the camera. A scene that not recommended to be watched whilst your having your tea! And believe it or not all produced for a budget of $10000, and that included the hire of the poodle.
As well as Devine and Waters who plays Mr J the narrator, the film stars David Lochary as Raymond, an actor that specialises in playing sophisticated pervert’s in Waters films, his last appearance in Female Trouble was in 1974 just two years before he died from an overdose of PCP (angel dust). His wife in the film Connie is played by Waters regular Mink Stole, another Dreamlander Edith Massy plays Edie. And how could we forget Elizabeth Coffey a postoperative transsexual woman who plays the chick-with-a-dick who turns the tables on pervert Raymond!
Pink Flamingos is still, after several years, one of the hottest film attractions and has been honoured all over the World as a film classic and was shown at the New York Museum of Modern Art as part of The Great American Comedy Series. But there’s no disputing that the release of this notorious film caused a great deal of controversy because of the perverse acts performed in explicit and graphic detail.
The film was re released in 1997 and subsequently on DVD to mark the 25th anniversary of its premiere. This newer version includes an improved soundtrack and some extra scenes from the original release introduced by the director himself. I can say, with hand on heart that there is no other film like it. Certainly not one for the ‘grey pound’ ha ha ha ha.