Desperate Living

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R | 1h 30m | Fantasy, Comedy, Horror

Divine was touring as a cabaret singer when director John Waters made this comedy of the grotesque, but he filled the void admirably with the equally rotund Jean Hill and burlesque-queen Liz Renay. The film tells the story of Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole), a mad housewife who kills her husband then goes on the lam with her 300-pound maid Grizelda (Hill). After being sexually accosted by a lewd, cross-dressing cop with gingivitis, the women are directed to Mortville, a shanty-town for fugitive criminals ruled by the evil Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey). Carlotta's daughter, Princess Coo-Coo (Mary Vivian Pearce) wants to renounce the throne and marry a nudist garbageman, so the Queen has him killed and enlists Peggy's aid in infecting the kingdom with rabies. Waters uses a fairy-tale framework to indulge his penchant for nauseating set-pieces, such as a transsexual lesbian (Susan Lowe) having her new penis cut off with scissors and fed to a dog, women being fed live cockroaches, and Peggy being assaulted at a lesbian glory-hole. Massey is hilarious as the Queen, urging her leather-clad bodyguards/sex-toys to rob my safety-deposit box!, but the oddly-named actor Turkey Joe steals the show in his brief role as a lecherous cop, spouting lines like I love the feel of cold nylon on my big butt! and slobbering over Grizelda's huge underpants. The pinnacle of gross-out humor, Desperate Living is Waters' strangest and funniest film.

Director: John Waters
Producer(s): John Waters
Cast: Mink Stole, Mary Pearce, Channing Wilroy, Cookie Mueller, George Figgs, Edith Massey, Liz Renay, Jean Hill, Marina Melin, Sharon Niesp, Steve Butow, George Stover, Turkey Joe, Pirie Woods, H.C. Kliemisch, Delores Delux, Peter Koper, Steve Parker, Chuck Yeaton, Pete Denzer, Ralph Crocker, David Klein

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