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Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look36.67%
Just Average: 20%
Pretty Crappy: 6.67%
Sucks: 3.33%

3 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Multiple Maniacs
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Sometimes You Eat The Lobster. . ."
4 stars

At the risk of losing whatever standing I have accumulated over the years with the hip kids, I must say that I vastly prefer the later films of John Waters—say from “Polyester” on—than I do his early super-low-budget shock comedies like the infamous “Pink Flamingos.” To be fair, those earlier efforts do contain some genuinely witty concepts and dialogue and, more importantly, the undeniable star presence of the late, great Divine. However, the combination of bargain-basement filmmaking and the obnoxious performances by many of the other players have always grated a bit and some of his efforts to shock and gross out his audiences have never quite worked for me—in other words, I find a film like “Hairspray”—in which he took the obsessions that fueled his career and not only deployed them in the service of a PG-rated musical comedy for the whole family (one that even climaxed with a race riot) but got a genuine hit movie out of it—infinitely more subversive that the sight of Divine eating a dog turd in “Pink Flamingos.”

To prove my point, consider 1970’s “Multiple Maniacs,” his wild second feature that is finally getting its first official theatrical release in a newly restored version before eventually finding a place of pride in the Criterion Collection. It tells the story of Lady Divine (guess who), who runs “Lady Divine’s Cavalcade of Perversions”—a threadbare attraction located in the middle of nowhere where the curious bear witness to such horrors as two men kissing and a puke eater before being violently mugged by Divine and her boyfriend (David Lochary). When she learns that her boyfriend is cheating on her with another one of the performers, she goes into a rage and stomps the streets in order to confront them. Along the way, she is gang-raped, witnesses a recreation of the Stations of the Cross and encounters a woman (Mink Stole) who lures her into a nearby church in order to perform a “rosary job” on her before finally confronting the boyfriend and the love in a scene of unimaginable carnage that is topped of by, perhaps inevitably, the sight of Divine being raped by a 15-foot-long lobster and taking to the streets like a monster to terrify anyone she encounters.

Although far from being a great movie, “Multiple Maniacs” actually proves itself to be on of the better of Waters’ early films. The filmmaking is supremely clunky and most of the performances will probably give you a headache. At the same time, however, the screenplay has some genuinely funny stuff in it—there is a running gag involving the Manson Family killings that is tasteless but highly amusing—and there are moments that have still maintained their subversive power nearly a half-century on while offering viewers something more than something that will make them barf. (The “rosary job” sequence is a gleefully transgressive moment that would not have seemed out of place in a later Luis Bunuel film.) Dominating the proceedings, as usual, is Divine whose raw screen charisma is so palpable that when the characters on screen talk about how sexy and powerful she is, you will almost certainly be inclined to agree.

If you have never seen a John Waters film before, “Multiple Maniacs” and its bizarre blend of arthouse/grindhouse tropes may not exactly be the ideal place to start—better to ease into things with “Hairspray” and “Polyester” before getting into the harder stuff. For those who are familiar with his work, I would sort of recommend it, as a historical artifact if nothing else. If i was ranking his early films, i would put it above the likes of “Pink Flamingos” and “Desperate Living” but a little behind his best early work, the hilarious “Female Trouble.” I don’t know if I will ever see it again in this lifetime but I am glad, sort of, that I finally got a chance to see it—i may not be eating lobster for a long time but I am still glad.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4409&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/12/16 10:48:07
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User Comments

5/08/17 mr.mike A must-see for its historical value. 4 stars
6/16/16 Joanie Totally gross. Don't watch this flick. 1 stars
1/15/14 Justin I used to have this on VHS. Fantastic, hilarious, depraved film! I wanna watch it again. 4 stars
11/09/11 matthew thompson dalldorf Tasteless but funny. 4 stars
12/21/10 a blank hilarious screen classic - twisted hippies run amok! 5 stars
3/17/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Why is this not on DVD? 4 stars
6/07/03 earl hoffert great 5 stars
4/25/02 Charles Tatum Meanders worse than "Pink Flamingos" 2 stars
10/16/01 Jake This and Polyester are my favorites!"You fool! you fool you killed Ricky!",FOOL IDIOT!" 5 stars
6/18/01 GeorgE I enjoyed this movie and the giant lobster & edith massey looks less repulsive than usual. 4 stars
6/14/01 Zoticus Some great scenes, but many long ones with repetitive (improvised) dialogue 2 stars
3/14/01 Sthenno Masterpiece of mania!Visions of bleach blonde husseys,gigolos and Divine abound! LOBSTORA! 5 stars
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  10-Apr-1970 (NR)

  N/A (18)

  10-Apr-1970 (R)

Directed by
  John Waters

Written by
  John Waters

  David Lochary
  Mink Stole
  Edith Massey
  Mary Vivian Pearce
  Susan Lowe

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