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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

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.