Desperate Living

Director: John Waters
Year Released: 1977
Rating: 2.0

It's pointless to try to apply a grade to any of Waters' pre-1980 films, since they're worlds of their own: cheap, grim and vulgar, set out to repulse those who don't get it and delight those who do (in other words, if you don't like them, you weren't supposed to; if you do like them, the more power to you). Waters himself is a product of suburbia, so these visual assaults on taboo and social mores are designed to lash against his own confined, quiet, uppity middle-class background - he identified with the outcasts he made 'movie stars' (a reference to Warhol) out of, and took pleasure in being one of cinema's controversial bad boys (he understood he needed a 'gimmick' to get noticed, like William Castle). Waters is not some kind of lunatic without a sense of reality - he's an intelligent punk at heart, and his purposely-infantile Z-grade provocations should be considered avant-garde home movies instead of actual movie-movies. [Side Note 1: This capsule applies to Pink Flamingos as well. Side Note 2: The '2.0' should read 'N/A'.]