On this day in 1972, John Waters’ outrageous movie Pink Flamingos opens in theaters.
Written, produced, filmed, and edited by John Waters. It is part of what Waters has labeled the “Trash Trilogy”, which also includes Female Trouble (1974) and Desperate Living (1977).
Pink Flamingos stars the countercultural drag queen Divine (the late Glen Milstead) as a criminal living under the name of Babs Johnson, “the filthiest person alive” The film portrays her attempts to maintain her title against a rival couple who claim to be even filthier than her.
The movie was filmed in Waters’ hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, on a budget of only $10,000, which he raised by working odd jobs and borrowing money from friends. The cast and crew were mostly made up of Waters’ friends and associates, and many of the film’s scenes were improvised.
Upon its initial release, “Pink Flamingos” received mixed reviews and was heavily criticized for its explicit content and extreme shock value. However, it soon developed a cult following and became a staple of the midnight movie circuit, where it was screened in theaters around the world.
Displaying the tagline “An exercise in poor taste”, Pink Flamingos is notorious for its “outrageousness”, nudity, profanity, and “pursuit of frivolity, scatology, sensationally [sic] and skewed epistemology.” As it features a “number of increasingly revolting scenes” that center on exhibitionism, voyeurism, sodomy, masturbation, gluttony, vomiting, rape, incest, murder, cannibalism, coprophagia, and foot fetishism, the film is considered a preliminary exponent of abject art.
In other words the perfect film!
Waters had planned for a sequel, titled Flamingos Forever. Troma Entertainment offered to finance the picture, but it was never made, as Divine refused to be involved, and in 1984, Edith Massey died.
When the film was initially released, it caused a huge degree of controversy but has since become one of the most notorious films ever made and is rated #29 on the list of 50 Films to See Before You Die.
You can watch the full movie before you die below.
All hail John Waters and Divine!