"Visions of snuff sex, cannibalism, rape and incest."
A comedic satire on the 'porno chic' flick (Deep Throat, I am Curious), Pink Flamingos was embraced by early seventies pop-culture as a truly revolutionary event.New York's Museum of Modern Art used it to open its Bicentennial Salute to American Film Comedy and at the time, it's subversive power was compared with Dali and Bunuel's Un Chien Anadalou; even Andy Warhol gave Flamingos his personal endorsement (if that means anything any more).
An amateur film which was made by John Waters to "make his friends laugh" became one of the most controversial and longest running films in America attracting all kinds of viewers beyond just the likes of the raincoat brigade.
It's not all praise and kudos however, many people will find Pink Flamingos utterly offensive. In 1974 Variety proclaimed it "One of the most vile, stupid and repulsive films ever made."
The story is centred around Babs Johnson (played by real life drag queen Divine). Through various disgusting activities Babs has proudly earned the title of "the filthiest person alive" but her envious title is not unchallenged. An evil couple called Connie and Raymond Marble covet Bab's status and they plot to topple her from the limelight. The Marbles run a hot baby ring, kidnapping young girls, raping them and then after they die in childbirth, selling their babies to lesbian couples to fund pornographic shops and a heroin ring in elementary schools. Babs is outraged that anyone should believe they are filthier than her.
The challenge is on and with the help of a hapless Hungarian sheepdog, Babs proves her worth. When she finally catches up with the Marbles, Babs calls a media press conference to tell the world her manifesto: "to promote first degree murder, kill everyone, eat shit, eat people." Simple enough.
Nineties audiences may think that there is nothing left to shock them but twenty five years down the track, Pink Flamingos is still "the little terrorist bomb" it was designed to be.
Waters says he is still very proud of the film and admits that it's both a thrill and a surprise that Pink Flamingos is "still bringing people joy" so many years later.Is that what visions of snuff sex, cannibalism, rape and incest bring? ---Melissa Bollinger