Nothing- now or ever- arguably, will be as outrageous as John Waters’ Pink Flamingos.
Celebrating its half century, this film from Waters and his team of miscreants, AKA the Dreamlanders, tackles every taboo you care to mention. Ostensibly a mockumentary gone rogue, the deranged masterpiece still holds up with its questionable mores centring around the “filthiest people in the world”.
David Lochary and Mink Stole are Bonnie and Clyde on brown acid, Edith Massey’s Egg Lady is infantilised to the point of lunacy and Divine, resplendent in what is regarded as her signature look of wild make-up and fishtail dress, rails against “assholism” as Babs Johnson.
There’s something to offend pretty much everyone: forced insemination; chicken strangling, a unique party piece and the infamous denouement involving a fresh dog turd. Initially it found success as a midnight movie and Waters said he considered vomit on the cinema seats to be “like a standing ovation”. Prisoners reportedly found it all a bit much.
But despite the list of gross- out scenes, it’s all performed with a finely honed sense of the absurd. Waters’ aesthetic may have been pure trash, but he was spotlighting the media obsession with fame for fame’s sake. He anticipated the rise of celebrity culture, decades before the Kardashians sashayed onto TV screens.
In essence, Pink Flamingos endures, as it’s a wickedly grotesque and hilarious inversion of the collective appetite for voyeurism, the need to watch in glorious technicolour the lifestyles of the rich and famous. He was just getting started …