Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Year in Disturbing Film: Week 3 - Even I'm surprised I lasted this long

My year in disturbing film is my weekly column where I devote a few paragraphs to the most fucked up films ever made. Each week I plan on subjecting myself to the most horrific and mentally damaging imagery my mind can handle. I can't promise you this won't be the week I wind up in the hospital...

Here is a reminder about my rating system for these films

The third attempt to make me spend the rest of my days rocking in the corner is...

Pink Flamingos – A family affair, brings the kids (seriously though, don’t)

John waters once held the distinction of being the most controversial man in America and for good reason. His films tend to have some of the most disturbingly bizarre (and more often then not, real) images ever captured on celluloid. As a man who has seen at least 97% of Mr. Waters’ body of work I can assure you that it has to be seen to be believed. There are certain things you should expect when you watch a John Waters film…

A.) First and foremost, great music, John Waters has a taste for music bested by very few and he loves to show off his tastes in his movies and I think the viewing public is the better for it. Thankfully the one thing you will always have coming out of a waters film (other than a bad taste in your mouth) is a wonderful tune in your head, it helps to juxtapose the horrible images he barrages you with so it’s not so bad.
B.) Sexual perversion, waters has an obsession with kink and perversion, from hearing him speak on the subject I know he revels in learning knew fetishes that he can put in his films. The premise behind a dirty shame seems like it comes from an exceptionally busy weekend of learning on Waters’ part.
C.) And lastly an over abundance of kitsch and camp. Waters films are not to be taken seriously and he knows it. He piles on the ridiculous in an attempt to get those who understand to say “now will you look at that!” and those not in the know to say ”now will you look at that!”

What is the movie about?
The most notorious of John Waters’ films is Pink Flamingos. Pink Flamingos tells the story of Devine, playing herself (himself if you want to get technical) going into hiding as Babs Johnson. It appears Devine has pulled off some nefarious business and the cops in the 70’s were too stupid to bother looking for her. She’s the self-proclaimed “filthiest person alive” and apparently this displeases a rival family that Devine has no idea about. Let’s face it, the story in this film is only really there to act as a support mechanism to hold up the film long enough to throw a metric ton of crazy crap at you and then hits you with the most shocking ending I’ve seen to date, more on that later.

Is it disturbing?
John Waters likes to make sure he hits you in two different ways throughout his movies. The first is the big obvious gags that hit you like a ton of bricks. He’ll usually whack you with those quick and lingers for a couple seconds then let you get away from it. Those include scenes with babs’ son Crackers involving a chicken in his coitus (the chicken doesn’t make it through alive), a man masturbating over the passed out body of a woman he’s trying to impregnate and a man performing what might just be the earliest goatse ever caught on film, a castration and murder. This also includes the movie’s final scene that I won’t be discussing quite yet (you’ll just have to wait).

The other way john likes to hit you is with the slow burn. Images he tosses at you and it either takes a little while to realize what you’ve just seen or by repeatedly showing you something you become more aware at how out of place it is. These usually come in the form of his characters. Devine herself looks like a demented circus clown. She steals meat from a butcher shop by holding it between her inner thighs (it’s also implied later in the film that this is also how it was cooked). Devine also takes a public shit, wipes and leaves the toilet paper (thankfully she didn’t have the balls to actually do this, it’s just implied). She gives her son a blowjob (unfortunately, very real) and proclaims herself a god on several occasions. Also rants quite a bit about her political views and invites the press to come witness her murder her rivals

The woman who plays her mother (Edith Massey) spends the entire film in a playpen eating eggs, around the second or third time you see her you realize she’s covered in egg for the entire film. Edith Chuckles maniacally in every shot she’s in and falls in love with her egg deliveryman. He asks her to marry him and he eventually takes her away, in a wheelbarrow, nonetheless. Devine’s travel companion Cotton is possibly the most normal character in the film. Her only quirks are that she likes to watch Crackers have sex and begs him to make his shows more bizarre and she hates to be touched. Outside of the bizarre sex, Crackers doesn’t have much to him either.

The rival family, the Marbles, has pubic hair that matches the hair on their head. Connie (Mink Stole) has flaming red hair and Raymond has bright blue hair. Connie and Raymond Marble are actually the most interesting characters in the film; they’re like a twisted version of Gomez and Morticia Adams. They have sex by sucking each other’s toes and showering each other with platitudes like “I love you more than my own hair color, more than a baby crying, more than my own shit”, classy couple. They also front money to the heroin dealer at the local elementary school and run a baby-selling ring out of their basement (they kidnap hitch hikers, impregnate them, let them die in childbirth and sell the babies to eager lesbian couples). Raymond also has a side hobby, he likes to tie a pepperoni to his penis and flash girls in the park, this does eventually backfire when he flashes a transvestite who in turn flashes him back. Connie has arguably the best line in the film “there are two kinds of people, my kind of people and assholes”. They continuously try to sabotage Devine’s plans and consistently fail. They finally incur the wrath of Babs Johnson after they send her a “turd” for her birthday, setting up the movies most comical revenge concept (I got to give you some reason to watch it right?).

But everything I’ve told you to this point can’t hold a candle to the finale. Remember before when I said you’d have a bad taste in your mouth? Well this is why, John Waters waits till the very last couple of minutes of the film to unleash the most vile and disgusting image you may possibly ever see. It’s one of the few things I’ve ever had to avert my gaze for and I’m not proud of that. If you’ve seen the film you already know what I’m talking about. If not, allow me to paint you a picture, Devine is eyeing a dog being walked. The dog stops to do his business and Devine, clearly feeling it to be her civic duty, Picks up the dog droppings and, lacking the appropriate waste disposal baggie, figures the best option would be to make a light snack of it. She even takes the time to press it between her teeth, like so many ripe wine grapes. This is an image that will stay with you and is almost single handedly the reason Pink Flamingos makes it onto my list. It’s one of the few moments in film history that have made me dry heave, though to be fair I am watching these films in order so there may be something I haven’t seen yet which tops it. This is a film that I think most novices could sit through 99% of, but just beware of the last several minutes.

5 gaping assholes out of 5

Disturbitude: an average of 5 ½, a 2 for most of the movie, nothing too terrible to see and a 9 for the finale

Next up: Dumplings – bet you can’t eat just one

P.S. I need to wash my mouth out

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