Desperate Living

"Bad"

Desperate Living Review


Now this is sick. Originally rated X (and now officially "not rated"), John Waters' Desperate Living is an exercise in the truly disgusting and not a lot more than that.

After its elegant opening credits -- in which a real rat is served cooked on fine china and picked-at by an unseen diner while the actors' names are displayed -- the movie degenerates (yes, even further!) into the gross-out nether reaches of cinema. We are introduced to the insane, rich housewife Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole), who, with the aid of her enormous maid Grizelda (Jean Hill), kills Peggy's hapless husband. The two go on the run, ending up in a bizarre "town" called Mortville, ruled over by a fat "queen" named Carlotta (Waters regular Edith Massey) and populated with the largely naked, mostly lesbian women and men dressed in leather pants.

Apparently written as he went along -- Waters' movie has the look of something shot in his backyard, complete with cardboard sets and flubbed lines, the product of what looks like a one-day shoot with no second takes. And is it ever gross. We've got a rabid princess, we've got a naked obese woman frolicking in bed with an anorexic one, we've got a quickie sex-change operation, and we've got an even quicker reversal of it.

Its bottom-scraping production values aside (and I'm happy to put them aside -- some schlock like Dead Alive can occasionally flirt with greatness), Desperate Living is awful not because it's sick but because it's nonsense. Waters isn't exactly known for subtle scriptwriting. But here it doesn't look like he wrote anything at all. Just get a bunch of deranged would-be porn actors and get them drunk, then watch 'em go to town.

The DVD features commentary from Waters as well as Liz Renay, the Marilyn Monroe look-alike who plays one of the nutcases in Mortville. Waters' comments are worthwhile -- and make Desperate Living even more sickening by putting it in context; Renay's reflections on her childhood are even more bizarre than the film itself.



Desperate Living

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th May 1977

Budget: $65 thousand

Distributed by: WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES

Production compaines: Charm City Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
Fresh: 7 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Muffy St. Jacques, as Peggy Gravel, as Mole McHenry, as Queen Carlotta, as Princess Coo-Coo, as Grizelda Brown, as Bosley Jr. (as Brook Blake), Karen Gerwig as Beth, Jay Allan as Kid, Al Strapelli as Dr. Evans, as Bosley Gravel, Turkey Joe as Motorcycle Cop, Willie Brooks as Pieman, James Yeaton as Dead Bum, as Lieutenant Wilson, Steve Butow as Lt. Grogan

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.