Directed by John Waters. Starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Danny Mills, Edith Massey, Channing Wilroy, Cookie Mueller, Paul Swift, Susan Walsh. (1972, NC-17, 93 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 23, 1997
It hardly seems as though 25 years have passed since the initial release of this movie that Fran Lebowitz called the “sickest” and “one of the funniest” ever made, but yes, it's been that long. John Waters is now a respected (more or less) member of the film community which he scorned so long ago, Divine has passed on to that great drag ball in the sky (as have David Lochary, Edith Massey, Paul Swift, and Nazzy the Dog), and what we now call “midnight movies” are a staple of the American cinematic landscape, their collective permanence assured, in part, by Waters' most outrageously famous and famously outrageous film. In 1972, the war between America and North Vietnam was nothing compared with the war between Babs Johnson (Divine) and Connie & Raymond Marble (Stole and Lochary). Vying for the title of “Filthiest People Alive,” Divine and her extended family – Mama Edie (Massey), who cries petulantly for the Egg Man; bottle-blonde and semi-significant other Cotton (Pearce); and chicken rapist Crackers (Mills) – take up arms against the treacherous and scheming Marbles, who run an illegal adoption ring out of their home and have a sideline in playground heroin sales (not to mention hairstyles that redefine the word “crappy”). If you're one of the few who haven't yet been indoctrinated into the world of Pink Flamingos, but have only heard eerie, second-hand tales around the campfire, now's your chance to see what all the gagging was about. This re-release is the original, uncut (and thankfully unrestored) article, and then some, which means a full order of singing sphincters, bizarre sex acts, and the now legendary “dogshit” scene. Waters has (perhaps unnecessarily) tacked on a 10-minute epilogue, in which he introduces a few lost scenes he says were recently unearthed “in my attic.” “Lost” scenes usually end up that way for good reason, and these new tidbits add little to the overall impact of the film. Pink Flamingos is, in its own unique way, the quintessential American Family Film. Not my family, certainly, and probably not yours, but a family nonetheless. So here's to family values. And shock values, too.