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Desperate Living [Import]

Liz Renay , Mink Stole , John Waters    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 25.41
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Everyone in Desperate Living's Mortville has some horrible secret to hide. The mentally unstable Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole, in a superb display of overacting) and her 300-pound-plus maid Grizelda must take it on the lam after Grizelda smothers Peggy's husband under her elephantine buttocks. They find themselves in Mortville, a shanty fiefdom ruled by the grotesque Queen Carlotta (the incomparable Edith Massey). The evil queen delights in tormenting her subjects, but Peggy and Grizelda soon team up with a pair of lesbian outcasts, and a rebellion is in the air. John Waters's Desperate Living takes on the air of a seedy, trash fairy tale as the humiliated residents of Mortville rise up against the queen and the cursed princess finds herself in a power struggle against her mother. Notable for the absence of Waters regular Divine, this movie pushes the rest of the cast to their over-the-top best. Fifties sex bomb Liz Renay has a great time as Muffy St. Jacques, half of the lesbian couple, and was still looking great by the '70s. The tumbledown sets of Mortville add a surreal touch to the movie, but Edith Massey steals every scene she's in as the hateful, repulsive Queen Carlotta. Note that the actors' breath is clearly visible in many scenes; it was filmed outdoors in a bitter Baltimore winter. Nasty, shabby, gross, and hilarious, this is John Waters at his best. --Jerry Renshaw

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:VHS Tape
In my opinion, John Water's movies have always been smarter on paper than most give him credit for. All of his work skewers the establishment was well as some of its offshoots and although intended to be shocking (in many instances just for the sake of being able to do so), my favorite moments generally involve the amazing Mink Stole and when John Waters in a very matter of fact fashion throws in something absolutely jaw-dropping as if it were just another scene.
On one hand you'll have people who will find Waters' early work to be too repulsive to watch and on the other extreme, you'll find others who worship his movies without any reservation and reject any critique as a sign that people just don't get it. My perspective is a little different as after watching Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living, my view is that while the ideas continue to be as fresh as they were made in the mid to late 1970's, his early work is much funnier when taken in little dozes rather than full length movies. Although, many may disagree I find Desperate Living to be his early best, while Female trouble is highly overrated. Pink Flamingos falls somewhere between the two.
There are scenes in Desperate Living that had me laughing so hard that I cried. In fact, the first half hour of the film is absolutely hilarious. Every scene involving Jean Hill who plays the hilarious Grizelda Brown and/or Mink Stole who plays the crazed Peggy Gravel, is a gag waiting to happen. There is a scene that takes place after something horrible happens (like I am going to tell you what happened) when Peggy is driving away with Grizelda that is worth the price of owning this movie. Said scene has Mink Stole going off like a madwoman regarding her hatred of nature, and it never fails to surprise me how funny she is.
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Format:VHS Tape
I guess you'd call Desperate Living the last of the earlier John Waters "gross out" cult classic films... He went a bit more mainstream after that (not to say that I don't like his new stuff... in fact, I dug Pecker and Cecil B. Demented majorly, but his newer stuff are simply "good movies", as opposed to "cult classics" by destiny.) - - The best way to describe Desperate Living (and I believe these are Waters' words paraphrased) is "a fairy tale for adults with the minds of children..." (well, moreso sick 12-14 year olds.) the story is as fun and entertaining as it is gross and disgusting... Getting to see Edith Massey in the roll of the evil queen and villian is also quite hillarious (especially if you've watched all his earlier films...) and getting to see what she does with the castle goons is even funnier... - - in my book however, the two most memorable scenes involve a cross dressing cop as well as a rather amusingly severed ding dong. Liz Renay, is also hillarious and really into her role... almost too much... in fact, its the sheer exhuberence of the actors in John Waters' films that make the films such a great watch... you can tell that he's definitely the type of guy that could sell you the Brooklyn Bridge (or atleast eat some poop off of it...) - - All in all, I'd have to say that along with Female Trouble its one of my favorite John Waters films... Whether you found Pink Flamingos funny or offensive, expect to laugh and puke at the same time... this is JW at his most sick and childishly best !
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4.0 out of 5 stars Desperately debauched & deliciously depraved. Sept. 15 2003
Format:VHS Tape
With DESPERATE LIVING, the demented genius John Waters has come up with a movie almost on a par with his most notorious bad taste classic PINK FLAMINGOS. DESPERATE LIVING is best described as a warped contempory fairy tale with lashings of ketcupy gore (a homage to Herschell Gordon Lewis perhaps?).
Written and Directed by Waters, this stars Mink Stole as Peggy Gravel, a mentally unbalanced suburban housewife drivine to the brink of madness by her amorous children, cruel husband & their alcoholic maid Grizelda Brown (Jean Hill).
However after the chunkily built Grizelda murders Mr. Gravel by sitting on him & squashing him to death; she & Peggy go on the lam, crossing paths with a wacko cop who has a fetish for women's lingerie. He is also a chivalrous romantic who has a strange request to make of Peggy: "I'd like to stick my whole head in your mouth & let you suck out my eyeballs". Now there's a pick-up line that's guaranteed to work every time!
After escaping being assaulted by this crazed copper; Peggy & Grizelda wind up seeking refuge in a low rent village/slum called Mortville where they shack up with lesbian wrestler Mole (Susan Lowe) & her vulgar, trashy lover Muffy (Liz Renay); a disturbed individual whose leisure pursuits include driving a meat fork through her hand for fun. But alas their solitude proves to be short-lived, as the corrupt ruler of Mortville, Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey) has sent her guards out to arrest & execute all homosexuals; but they mistakenly arrest Peggy & Grizelda. Soon the repressed townspeople band together to stage a violent revolt against their revolting dictator & her submissive slave-servants.
As with all Waters early films, you will either find this to be absoutely hilarious or downright depraved. I am of the former mindset.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I Honor You, Queen Carlotta!
It's hard for me to believe that there could be John Waters fans who know only his mainstream films. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by El Kabong
1.0 out of 5 stars Desperately Depraved
One more fithy movie from John Waters' perverted mind. It is most trashy with mediocre acting, cheep cardbord settings, most unrealistic fairytale-like story and bizarre situations... Read more
Published on June 4 2001 by Xavier Thelakkatt
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Johnny Waters, what have you DONE?!?!?
Hello, movie goers! I am a HUGE fan of John's work, but Desperate Living has to be my least favourite movie he's made. Read more
Published on Dec 28 2000 by Terry E. Pelton
4.0 out of 5 stars Divine even without Divine
At the time of its release, this was easily John Waters's most technically accomplished and professional-looking film. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2000 by Garry Messick
5.0 out of 5 stars THE ULTIMATE GROSS OUT!!
a "fractured fairytale" if there ever was one!! this movie you MUST watch over and over!! The shock value is high - and the laughs are "Multiple"! Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2000 by "grlinterupted2"
5.0 out of 5 stars Pevertfection!
This amazing John Waters movie dserves it's place amongst the strangest and sickest films ever made. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2000 by russell Teague
4.0 out of 5 stars Still A Favorite
Desperate Living is often an overlooked and forgotten piece of Waters' early work, mostly because of the abscence of Divine, but to me it's one of his best films which I continue... Read more
Published on July 24 2000 by JOHN SPOKUS
5.0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt the single most depraved film ever made!
This film has a take no prisoners approach and stops at nothing. Just when you think John Waters cannot be more depraved, he goes one step beyond. It was AWESOME! Read more
Published on June 17 2000 by "cumbriefs4sale"
5.0 out of 5 stars Another trash masterpiece from the Prince Of Puke
This film is considered by many to be the last true "Trash" film from John Waters before going mainstream with films like "Polyester" "Hairspray" and "Serial Mom". Read more
Published on May 23 2000 by Alan Mora
4.0 out of 5 stars You probably won't like it much the first time through.....
Like many of Waters' films, this one really needs to grow on you. I found it much funnier, but less shocking, than Pink Flammingos (which I also hated the first time... Read more
Published on April 18 2000 by BuyCurious
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