When a murderous rivalry ensues between the Filthiest Human in the World (Divine) and her competitors (David Lochary and Mink Stole), no action is too low or disgusting to enter the fray. Babs (Divine), her companion Cotton (Mary Vivian Pearce), and her son Crackers (Danny Mills) retaliate against a spy (Cookie Mueller) sent by Lochary and Stole — who employ a cross-dressing butler (Channing Wilroy) to impregnate women they kidnap in order to sell their babies to lesbian couples — to scope out their trailer, then celebrate Divine’s birthday in trashy style while Babs’ obese, baby-like mother (Edith Massey) is romanced by The Egg Man (Paul Swift), who wants to marry her — but Lochary and Stole are so consumed with envy and fury, they resort to fiery revenge.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “John Waters’s cult classic, one of the most successful midnight movies and arguably his best film, is a movie you can’t believe was actually scripted, storyboarded, acted in, shot, and shown in legitimate theaters.” He notes that “the ‘King of Sleaze’ wants to shock people out of their complacent viewing habits”, and “invariably succeeds by writing the most obscene storylines, shooting the most vulgar images, and presenting the most repulsive characters imaginable.” Peary argues that Waters “can make you laugh uncontrollably even when you’re repelled”, and that “you’ve got to respect a guy who can make ‘stars’ out of the weirdos who stock his Baltimore repertory company”. However, he concedes that “you have to be disturbed by his anything-different-is-positive theme and by the fact that he succeeds in making people laugh by depicting pain, destruction of property, and strong violence.”
So, is Pink Flamingos worth sitting through? Yes, for its cult status. However, don’t expect to be entertained, simply disgusted — again, and again, and again. As I’ve noted about Waters’ earlier films, degeneracy for its own sake — or, in this case, “filth”, defined by Merriam Webster as “moral corruption or defilement” — doesn’t offer any inherent value. The characters are ridiculous and loathsome, and one shudders to think of them existing anywhere close to real life. What’s the point? However, I don’t think film fanatics will want to miss seeing Divine (who Peary nominates as one of the Best Actors of the Year in his Alternate Oscars!) in his infamously outrageous wig, make-up, and gowns (his red mermaid dress is perhaps the most memorable). Speaking of memorable… Yes, the final scene remains as disgusting as ever; once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it. Be forewarned. Discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies book.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Many classically outrageous, colorful, memorable scenes
Yes, once, as a cult favorite.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)