Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bet I Can Find Worse

This is one of those films that I was most definitely not looking forward to. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard of some of the things that happen in the film--probably one of the three actually disgusting acts. The problems are MANY, of course. In no particular order:

1. A general lack of acting that results in every actor yelling ALL of the lines in a weird monotone. There is no nuance. That seems like it would be important in a film about breaking taboos; otherwise you're just acting like an ape slinging poo just because the poo is there and fling-able.

2. John Waters being high when he wrote the film which resulted in a repetition of just about all of the lines. This comes in two forms: a literal repeat ("Call the police! Call the police!") and a rephrasing ("He's been castrated! His penis is gone!").

3 The strange definition of "filth." So, yeah, a contortionist defecating, Divine eating dog feces, Crackers involving chickens in sex, and Raymond's penchant for indecent exposure seems to fit an idea of "filthy." But, arson? Imprisoning women in order to impregnate them and sell the babies to lesbians? Murder? Those things are illegal and seriously warped but I'd argue they're not "filthy" just by definition.

4. What the "filthiest people in the world" can't take, what crosses the line. Catching the butler in drag? Seriously? It seems the filthiest people in the world would take that as an opportunity for some other fetish. Being sent feces in the mail? You can't stand that but you'll have a guy perform the act at your birthday party? And you can eat dog feces? Having a pre-op transgender woman flash you as you stand in a park with a piece of meat tied to your penis is one step too far?

5. Licking furniture causes it to become possessed?

6. While I appreciated the loooooooooong lead ins to all of the disgusting parts so I could avert my eyes if needed, they kind of kill the impact. I figured out that the blow job was going to happen three or four rooms before they even started talking about it; in fact if the bj didn't happen, THAT would have been more disturbing after all of that build-up. (Meanwhile, to mention the bj--that didn't phase me one bit because it never seemed like those two were actually related and, well, Devine is a big 'ol drag queen so not his mama at all).

7. We have to watch this film but not one of the Jackass films? At least they don't try to act.

Overall, the film feels very amateur. It's obviously low budget but you can do wonderful things with little to no money in film. However, when you add bad acting, a terrible script, and a string of gross (and supposed to be gross but just don't meet the mark) acts to a low budget, not to mention poor editing and poor sets (you can see the Egg Man's breath when he proposes) and you get a disaster. Add in the fact that it's not quite forty years since the film's release and I don't think we need to see this before we die. It doesn't hold up and, save the two feces scenes, I wasn't incredibly shocked by any of it. It was just sad. It felt like a bunch of high school boys got a hold of a video camera. Or, speaking to the age of the film, now that they all have cameras in their phones, they probably already have more disturbing things backlogged. I'd go do a quick Youtube search for something more "filthy" ("Two girls, one cup" comes to mind immediately) but I'd rather retain my pizza, thanks.

Meanwhile, I hope I've met the quota for the use of the word "feces" for this whole project.

And the books says this is "quite possibly the best worst movie ever made--certainly one of the most notorious and beloved pieces of trash cinema to come out of the American underground." At least we're starting off by acknowledging that the movie sucks. But why do we need to watch a bad movie? Apparently just because a LOT of other people have watched it.

So, my question for you Tracy, should we watch a movie just because a lot of other people have watched it? At what point to we consign this to the "not worth it" and "of too little merit to perpetuate" category and move on as a society?


  1. That, my friend, is an excellent question. My post seems to suggest yes, that the sheer number of people who have watched this film (and talked about it) has given it a history that makes a viewing if not essential, then at least of a piece with this project. However, where does that end? A hell of a lot of people see the Scary Movie franchise, and the Saw series, and hell, even Jackass--which I would say all qualify as "bad" movies. Maybe the thematics make it worth at least considering for ourselves? Though it does it badly, Pink Flamingos does try to engage with gender and sexuality and taboo. You couldn't say that of other bad movies a lot of people see. Maybe the justification is in why and how it fails?

  2. Oh, and excellent point(s) about precisely where the "filthiness" fails. Not only does it lack imagination, it lacks internal cohesion. You can't have a rule that shit is both performance art and the ultimate insult. Pink Flamingos doesn't follow its own rules. The castration rubbed me the wrong way as well. More odd misogyny.

  3. I've never seen a Scary Movie, Saw, or Jackass film. And I doubt I ever will thankyouverymuch. I could even justify one of those, though, as a sort of cultural commentary of the inundation of the market with certain sorts of movies. Anyway, I want to smack each and every person who made the film a cult hit--and point them to actual filth.

    Yes! There is a strange nasty misogyny permeating the film for a film that centers on a ginormous drag queen.