At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm
October is “The Month of Crawly, Creepy, and Bestial” at Film Space.
At Film Space Saturday, October 3: Pink Flamingos (1972) by John Waters – 109 mins – US, Comedy/ Crime/ Horror. Generally favorable reviews: 66 out of 100. Rated NC-17 in the US for a wide range of perversions in explicit detail.
Rotten Tomatoes: Baltimore director John Waters' outrageous 1971 debut Pink Flamingos burst onto the filmmaking scene like the ample flesh of its drag-queen star through the seams of a lamé dress. Conceived as a way to garner attention for Waters' fledgling career, this paean to bad taste certainly did just that--so much so that decades later, the film still retains the power to shock with its gleeful demolition of every known human taboo. Waters' attempt at making the most vile and offensive movie ever made is aptly mirrored in his characters' competition for the title of "Filthiest Person Alive." Overweight transvestite and Waters muse Divine (aka Glen Milstead) stars as the current record holder, Babs Johnson, who lives in a trailer park with her trashy friend Cotton (Mary Vivian Pearce), incestuous son Crackers (Danny Mills), and mentally-stunted mother Edie (Edith Massey), who spends her time in a playpen and is obsessed with eggs. Vying for Babs' filthy title is evil middle-class couple Raymond (David Lochary) and Connie Marble (Mink Stole), who fund porno shops, sell heroin to grade-schoolers, and run a white-slave trade that involves kidnapping young women, imprisoning them in their dungeon-like basement, raping and impregnating them, and selling their babies to lesbian couples. In between, there's sex with chickens, whistling rectums, actual fellatio, and canine excrement – ensuring not only gross-out comedy par excellence, but a total assault on bourgeois respectability that rivals the comparatively mild critique of Un chien andalou or L'âge d'or. Disgusting, hilarious, and utterly fabulous, Pink Flamingos is guerrilla filmmaking at its finest.
Roger Ebert: How do you review a movie like this? I am reminded of an interview I once did with a man who ran a carnival sideshow. His star was a geek, who bit off the heads of live chickens and drank their blood.
"He's the best geek in the business," this man assured me.
"What is the difference between a good geek and a bad geek?" I asked.
"You wanna examine the chickens?"
Pink Flamingos was filmed with genuine geeks, and that is the appeal of the film, to those who find it appealing: What seems to happen in the movie really does happen. That is its redeeming quality, you might say. If the events in this film were only simulated, it would merely be depraved and disgusting. But since they are actually performed by real people, the film gains a weird kind of documentary stature. There is a temptation to praise the film, however grudgingly, just to show you have a strong enough stomach to take it. It is a temptation I can resist.
At Film Space Saturday, October 10: Videodrome (1983) by David Cronenberg – 89 mins – Canada, Horror/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller. Generally favorable reviews: 72 out of 100. This is probably the unrated version, so watch out – anything goes.
A sleazy lowlife cable TV operator discovers a snuff broadcast called "Videodrome." But it is more than a TV show – it's an experiment that uses regular TV transmissions to permanently alter the viewer's perceptions by giving them brain damage. Caught in the middle of the forces that created "Videodrome" and the forces that want to control it, his body itself turns into the ultimate weapon to fight this global conspiracy.
Rotten Tomatoes: Visually audacious, disorienting, and just plain weird, Videodrome's musings on technology, entertainment, and politics still feel fresh today. Max Renn runs an unauthorized cable channel in Toronto that caters to viewers demanding increasingly violent and pornographic material. One night, in search of new programming fodder, he stumbles across a scrambled satellite transmission emanating from unknown regions -- a startlingly graphic broadcast that routinely depicts the brutal torture and murder of women. Excited by his find, Renn attempts to track the show to its origins, but he continually encounters resistance, including a warning from one of his programming suppliers that the broadcasts are not dramatizations but depictions of actual murders. Undaunted, Renn finally traces the show to Pittsburgh, where he encounters the transmissions of a Messianic madman known as Brian O'Blivion. Although O'Blivion is dead, his daughter continues to spread his twisted gospel by broadcasting old videotapes of his sermons, encouraging people to embrace the barbarous new TV world as reality. Eventually Renn finds the man who is controlling all the hallucinatory video violence. But by then, Max has begun his own descent into madness, an insanity culminating in physical manifestations of the exploitative sleaze he has profited from over the years.
At Film Space Saturday, October 17: Teeth (1972) by Mitchell Lichtenstein – 94 mins –US Comedy/ Horror – Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein (son of Pop artist Roy), with Jess Weixler and John Hensley. High school student Dawn works hard at suppressing her budding sexuality by being the local chastity group's most active participant. A stranger to her own body, innocent Dawn discovers she has a toothed vagina when she becomes the object of violence. As she struggles to comprehend her anatomical uniqueness, Dawn experiences both the pitfalls and the power of being a living example of the vagina dentata myth. Mixed or average reviews: 57/64 out of 100.
Variety: "Teeth" bites off more than it can chew. A game, disarming lead performance from Jess Weixler, who won a jury acting prize at Sundance, goes some way toward making palatable this mish-mash. All the same, it will be few guys' notion of an ideal date movie.