John Waters directs Divine, Mink Stole and Edith Massey in this bad taste classic where a trailer trash transvestite and a twisted couple compete to be “the filthiest person alive”.
No unsuspecting soul is going to watch Pink Flamingos by accident in the 21st century. It is never going to appear on Netflix, never be remade. We had to order the DVD in from the States. It is a dirty, unnerving, brash experience. A grandmother in her dishevelled underdress obsesses over eggs. Extras wear Nazi insignias. Nude women are kept chained in a derelict basement. Every line is delivered in screeching mania. It is all very silly. You get dragged into the pantomime horridness of it. The infamous scene where Divine eats a little dog turd won’t turn your stomach. The scene where her and her “son” revenge lick the surfaces of their rivals’ house for minutes on end might. They then engages in some very disenthused incestuous fellatio. The incest is play acting, the dick sucking is real. Constantly sleazy, constantly boundary pushing but, apart from existing to startle and amuse with tawdry consistency, does Pink Flamingos have a point? Maybe… all the extreme stunts and imagery normalises or puts into context the other elements, that while not part of mainstream society, are not anywhere nearly as immoral as viewed back then. Trans life, homosexuality, romance of the unattractive and disabled are presented on screen as matter of fact. When juxtaposed with chicken rapes and semen injections they become the norm. Maybe that’s the point… and maybe it is just a filthy shock freak show. Either way… it works. Waters presents his menagerie of transgressions with energy and blunt wit. If you chose to seek it out, take a walk on the antique wild side, Pink Flamingos is still very watchable and disgustingly funny.
Check out my wife Natalie’s Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk
We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/