on 16 November 2012
What is there to say about 'Pink Flamingos' that hasn't already been said? It's atrociously acted, camper than any Carry On film, grotesque in many parts to the point of being stomach-turning, offensive to just about everyone in some way or other.....
But its screamingly funny, very well filmed and edited, and more than anything a real example of an alienated American youth culture after years of the Viet Nam war trying to find comfort in the destruction of its own veneers. In many ways, it's 'Last House on the Left' with its tongue firmly in its cheek. But be warned, warm and fluffy this is not - there is a real undercurrent of anger and protest at the hypocritical and paradoxical moral codes of WASP-ish America which permeates the film, and this tone becomes more apparent as the years go by.
This region 1 edition contains scenes which are to this day censored by the British Board of Film Classification (the rights and wrongs of that are for another discussion), but viewers should be cautioned that one scene in particular features animal cruelty which will upset many and which will never be released as legal imagery in the UK due to the Animals and Cinematography Act in UK law - something which I actually think is a welcome and necessary protection for all non-humans. Other censored material includes would-be hardcore sexual antics (which are too silly to be pornographic), and some sexual violence which is cartoonish in flavour, but a little nasty nevertheless.
So approach with caution, but this really is a very interesting piece of flipside Americana for those who can take it and a film which is coming to represent far more about its time in US history than many other more famous works released in the early 1970s.
on 2 January 2010
the most provocative and graphic of all waters-movie, at times silly, funny, irritating or disgusting
but never boring. true underground. divine at her best. nice dvd which makes the best of the
almost 40-year-old material and including some deleted scenes which are introduced by the
if you're even remotely interrested in movies far away from the hollywood-mainstream,
you can't go wrong with this one.
on 14 January 2014
This is the only film you will ever see where an actor actually ears dog poop, but in a distatefully, transgressive and expressive way. Then there's the singing sphincter... not for the feint hearted, but definitely for Divine and Johan Waters fans. Unequalled in bad taste! Fantastic. Completely unique film making...
The film revs into a full frontal view, with the full swagger of a scorching guitar track laden with the licks culled from the legendary Link Wray. The rest of the film ties all the knots together with various links from the 50's greats; Juvenile Delinquent crooned by Frankie Lymon, Cell Block No 9 by the Robins, Surfin Bird by the Trashmen and many, many, many hic up more. Whilst reviewers decry this music as cheese, I offer the correct end of the telescope... girld dust.
John then gives us the big gassss 50's guzzling cars, preening and posing as objet d'art in an era when they were decried as ghastly relics. Drawing together the sleek curves, buffing up the chrome and polishing the gleaming paint, each is majestically topped with red blinkers. The lights protrude like an upturned bell end locked into the vision of a Monroe behind - we the viewer can only drool.
Finally there are the performers; various geeks, freaks and beaks all draped in a superstar leopardskin, - then rammed with stilettos and pushed out into an outre world. The characters traverse the outer lines of the socially fragmented clique, assembling together on this ramshackle set to deliver a resounding "no" verdict to the triumph of good over eville puerile mainstream taste. You won't gag on any sugar in this offering.
The bland bonhomie, the rivulets of social etiquette are finally taboo busted; some may say it was done with a juvenile sense of rebellion, but I see this as one huge rippling belly laugh, complete with a little shake of the fist at the lies family's tell themselves. So with a magicians cape tarraahhhhhh... here they are finally revealed.
Instead of parading their wares on the catwalks, private colleges, board rooms and offices these images are jerked off the set and the results tumble into the audience below. Waters elevates trailer trash as a beatific inverse, the ones who hold the secrets of a lived life in their surreal well worn and utterly depraved lives.
Back to the film;
Mamma lives on a diet of eggs, her son performs for his sister. Mamma performs on her son, an orifice sings along to Surfin Bird, Divine stops traffic with a saunter, the baddies keep girls for sex in cellars. Authorities are corrupt, people are needy, grasping and willing to do anything for status. This is the ultimate in a pastiche of 21st Century cynicism, but look at the time frame, because this film back then was made for now.
A film dropped into the can, after the love ins of the 60's were washed into the horizon and the reality of cultural dross kept busily at bay. Willful ignorance finally broke into the daydream with a gun in its hand. Rape, incest, bizarre sex, imprisonment, lesbians coupling; not such a big deal, then there is the chicken sex, estranged bizarre families playing sexual games and John lets rip at polite society.
Look carefully, John Waters got there first before Jerry, Oprah, Trisha and Kyle. He unscrewed the lid and showed what had been gently cast away by the mainstream covers, and then held up the skid marks as art for everyone to stare at. But there is also a sense of humanity and it is not just pure cynicism of look at the freaks.
This film operates on many levels and the main thrust is breaking all rules. John walks through them all like paper walls.
It is an excruciating watch but also transfixing, as the assembled cast operate on an Ed Woods level of acting capability to bring it all to life. It just so happens they transcend the material and then deliver something unwieldy and unearthly. At the same time this is a stunning portrayal of family, institutional and cultural dysfunction.
The film marks the boundaries of an unsane world, the best delivered so far in celluloid. However back in real time it has been noted some real families are even more perverse than this depiction. At least these have an ironic eye on the garlands of distaste within the film. Real families sometimes believe they are equivalent of Stepford Wives, whilst being even more debased. Just ask all the girls who have escaped from the basements of hell in Europe and the USA. John in his perversity delivered this depiction well before they were discovered, placing his particular flag upon the moon; only for people to make fun of him, whilst all the time he was holding a mirror.
That takes real guts!