"Pink Flamingos" is an incredibly disgusting, shocking, hilarious film. It's got a great cast of characters, lots of campy sets and costumes, an insane screenplay, and lots of gross antics, all of which make for a great comedy that's even got social commentary in it.
The movie is about a contest between the Divine family and Raymond and Connie Marble for the title of "Filthiest People Alive". Raymond and Connie repeatedly provoke Divine and family by sending them disgusting packages and vandalizing their property, until Divine and her family retaliate and regain their title.
This movie is intended to shock, and to make you laugh - nothing more. It's so incredibly over the top that you can't really take the characters' acts of filth seriously. The raunchy sex scenes are nothing more than pure comedy. And that's what makes this movie so good - it doesn't take itself seriously. If "Pink Flamingos" was intended as a straightforward comedy that happened to have lots of gross things in it, it wouldn't be nearly as funny.
Indeed, this movie will probably offend you and disgust you, perhaps even make you sick, if you're not prepared for it. I wish I hadn't read John Waters' autobiography, "Shock Value", before seeing it - it sort of ruined the movie for me. I can imagine what it would be like to see "Pink Flamingos" without knowing what's coming - it'd be like a grotesque, sickening, fun roller-coaster ride.
But in addition to all the low comedy, there is some interesting thought. The movie begs the question - which character is filthier, Divine (and her family) or the Marbles. Divine's acts of filth are benign - sure, she's a murderer, but she only kills when provoked...whereas the Marbles are vicious exploiters who kidnap and impregnate girls, and sell the babies to lesbian couples. (That ought to give you a taste of just how gross this movie is!)
The actual quality of the filmmaking is absolutely terrible...the acting is horrendous, the screenplay is unrealistic, and the gore is pretty unconvincing (there's a scene where Divine shoots somebody, and it's obvious that she's firing a cap pistol). But is high quality really necessary in a movie like this?
This movie is available in the "John Waters Archives", a boxed set of four of his movies. Having seen this film, I'm really looking forward to watching all the others. If you're going to watch this, get ready to be shocked and horrified - and get ready to laugh!
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