Kill everyone now! Condone first-degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!
Directed by: John Waters
In a Nutshell:
In his 25th anniversary recap of John Waters’ most infamous movie, Roger Ebert declined to give a star rating, stating: “It should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or perhaps as an object.” Even as a guy with a high tolerance to cult material I find it hard to disagree – Pink Flamingos is one of the most deliberately vile, ugly, idiotic and disgusting movies ever made.
Shrieking sleaze queen Babs Johnson (Divine) is the filthiest person alive, living in a battered trailer with her son Crackers and her demented, egg-obsessed mother Edie (Edith Massey). Trouble starts brewing when depraved couple Connie and Raymond Marble (Mink Stole and David Lochary), who actively enjoy selling smack to schoolkids and impregnating kidnapped women, decide to challenge Babs for her title. After they send Babs a turd for a birthday present, battle ensues…
Whatever you have to say about Pink Flamingos, there is no denying that Divine is an absolute cult superstar. Born Harris Glenn Milstead, the mild-mannered, overweight drag queen tore into anything Waters gave him, finding an outrageous outlet for his inner diva. Divine a force of nature, all tight-fitting dresses, scarily shaved back hairline, flaring nostrils, sneering lips and demonically arched eyebrows. It’s an amateurish performance, but Divine’s sheer vulgar energy made her an alternative pin-up for geeks who were just itching to throw the squares a few scares.
The soundtrack for Pink Flamingos is stacked with old 50s and 60s rock ‘n’ roll tracks, from Link Wray to Bill Haley and the Comets. Probably the highlight is Babs robbing a steak from a shop by slapping it between her thighs and walking out, all to the strains of “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.
The whole movie is likely to gross out or outright offend 95% of viewers at some point. Lowlights include – a man “singing” with his anus; a chicken used as a prop in a grubby sex scene; Babs sucking off her son; and the infamous denouement of Babs eating freshly dropped dog shit while grinning at the camera.
While Pink Flamingos is John Waters’ most famous film, it’s probably not the best place to start for anyone interested in delving into his work. It may be the cult movie, but it’s not a particularly enjoyable watch – it’s sole reason to exist is to shock, and it does that but not much else. To compound the film’s overall grossness, it looks extremely cheap and ugly and the acting is absolutely fucking awful. You’re better off starting with something like Serial Mom or Cry-Baby which are funny, entertaining movies in their own right while offering a safe(ish) way into Waters’ trashy world.
Rating: In honour of Roger Ebert, there is no rating for Pink Flamingos.
You can buy your copy of Pink Flamingos from Amazon HERE