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Divine Trash

John Waters , Pat Waters , Steve Yeager    DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Product Description

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Independent producer and author John Pierson (Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes) defines the 1970s American indie scene as "the three Johns: John Cassavetes, John Sayles, and John Waters." John Waters, Baltimore's king of sleaze, in such classy company? According to Pierson in this 1998 documentary, Waters had an even more profound impact on American cinema. Director Steve Yeager, a Waters intimate for decades (he plays a bit part in Pink Flamingos), gathers the surviving members of his stock company for a portrait of the director, from backyard puppet show impresario to the transgressive underground and exploitation director who grossed out America in the 1970s. A generous array of film clips is enriched with archival interviews with Divine, David Lochary, and Edith Massey, and a chorus of film critics and underground and independent directors.

Fully half of the film chronicles the making of Pink Flamingos, with actual behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot (including the most priceless direction ever captured on film: "David, act some more"). A plentiful portion pays tribute to Divine ("the Godzilla of drag queens"), whom Waters calls "my Elizabeth Taylor." The only real disappointment in this rich and highly entertaining documentary is that it ends with Flamingos, as if his entire career since is a mere coda to this cultural touchstone. But this portrait is so rich and detailed that it's a forgivable directorial choice. --Sean Axmaker


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep meditation on the nature of success April 14 2004
Format:DVD
First let me say how pleased I was to find this DVD at my local public library!
From there I will go on to say what an impressive piece of work this is. Having long been a fan of the movie Hairspray, which raised my curiosity about Divine in the first place, a natural progression enabled my curiosity about John Waters. This is primarily his story, the story of his work, with plenty of interview time with him. What an intriguing individual! What a creative time and place he lived in! How fortunate for all freedom loving Americans that such explorations were possible in that time and place. I doubt they could ever happen today.
True, the films do seem to be in questionable taste, with little, if any, socially redeeming value. But look closer, and you may find your own reflection. What is the value of shock value? What are its drawbacks? What have we gained? What have we lost?
John Waters was not shallow, nor was he untintelligent. He was creatively inspired, and no matter how we react to his work, react we do. Such is the nature of art.
I feel like I got to know the man just a little, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I understood a little more about his work, and its success. Do I approve? I still don't know, but I do know that whether I approve or not doesn't matter.
I do approve of freedom. I believe that no one was hurt, and that violence was not empowered through the message, which makes many of today's movies filthy in comparison.
John Waters is an interesting individual. It would have been intruging to have been in his entourage. One could not have escaped coming out a changed individual. He created a cocoon, a chrysalis, where larvae were nurtured and outrageous butterflies emerged. They loved what they were doing, and they were successful.
If nothing else, it is a deep meditation on the nature of success in a country that considers it a superior export.
...geminiwalker
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Divine Homage to the Prince of Puke ! ! ! Nov. 24 2003
Format:DVD
As a long time John Waters FANATIC, I found myself glued to this DVD straight through... Although the documentary seems to be nothing more than a film adaptation of Water's two PHENOMENAL books of biographical essays CRACKPOT and SHOCK VALUE (literally, the pages come to life, and many of the quotes and anecdotes) - - the footage is worth it. The documentary is intriguing and informative and has plenty of Pink Flamingos era behind the scenes rare footage. - - You even get to meet his parents. - - While the DVD is visually intriguing, the books are hillarious, making both the books and the DVD well worth getting together. - - For example, in his book Waters tells the story of how the dog that laid the golden egg (so to speak) was a bit poo shy... The documentary, in turn, catches the set up behind the scenes... In fact, it is fascinating not only to watch interviews with a young John Waters, but also to see his directing style in action - - (DVD extras won't blow you away, but still... you'll probably end up watching this film over so many times, it'll be worth getting a DVD, before the tape eventually rips and goes to shreds !) - - Incidentally, there has been a lot of criticism how the DVD focuses disporportionately on Pink Flamingos, however, considering that this was the film that broke him into the public eye and seemed to epitomize his style, I think it is very appropriate, and gives the film a focused point of reference to tell his story from.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Cause for Waters' Fans to Celebrate! Jan. 26 2001
Format:DVD
These days "sick and twisted" animation festivals are very popular around the country, especially in college towns. There's something subversive and anti-establishment about them. Well, John Waters was turning out sick and twisted entertainment years before it was fashionable, and he used live actors, not animated characters, to play out his acid-trip stories in his belovedly filthy Baltimore. "Divine Trash" is an extremely interesting and well made documentary following Waters, his cast and crew during the filming of the infamous "Pink Flamingos," the film in which Divine ingests dog excrement to prove she is "the filthiest person alive." It's fascinating to see Waters interviewed today, as a more grounded middle aged man, as well as then, as an obviously chemically altered young director without a care in the world other than getting his vision on film. Actors Mink Stole, David Lochary, Edith Massey and the late, great Divine (on set and in drag during "Pink Flamingos") are interviewed as are various crew members, friends, and even foes, most notably a board member responsible for viewing Waters' work before assigning it a motion picture rating. Many might dismiss Waters' films as talentless trash, but I stand in awe of a writer/director who can plumb the depths of bad taste and create hilarious dialogue for actors who are not quite actors playing characters we've never seen before and are surely never to see again. It's also interesting to see the grass roots beginnings of a film maker who would eventually go on to make more mainstream comedies like "Polyester," "Hairspray" and "Serial Mom." Waters may not be your cup of tea, but "Divine Trash" is fascinating for documentary fans.
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Format:VHS Tape
If you haven't seen this yet, you don't know everything about John Waters and his films! Utilizing recent interviews with his surviving cast members (that alone should make you want to see this!); interviews circa 1972 with some of the same people and the dear departed David Lochary, Divine, and Edith Massey; behind-the-scenes footage from the set of "Pink Flamingos"; and scenes from such diverse influences as "Deep Throat" and "Sins of the Fleshapoids", "Divine Trash" is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen! I guess I'm a bit biased since I am a huge Waters fan, but this should also convert any budding Waters fan wondering what is so special about his films! Waters' influences (such as the Kochar brothers, H.G. Lewis, and Paul Morrissey) are also interviewed, along with modern-day filmmakers influenced by Waters! Some of the best quotes are from Waters being interviewed himself and his bewildered parents, who seem to wonder how they could have raised such a weirdo! I am so very happy that director Steve Yeager finally got the video/DVD rights cleared up, so when this film is finally released, it will reach a wider audience. A must-see for any film fan!
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but a bit self-aggrandizing
I've seen only three of Waters' movies, which is plenty, and I enjoyed this documentary, but five stars? C'mon! Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2003 by David F. Nolan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Detailed Documentary on John Waters
Although this documentary mainly focuses on "Pink Flamingos", it is still enterataining to watch and very thorough. Read more
Published on April 17 2002 by Michael B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Filthy People unite
As a die hard Waters fan, I thought I knew everything. Nu uh. Very good interviews/footage. A must for people that thrive on filth.
Published on March 12 2002 by S. Michaels
5.0 out of 5 stars The Method Behind His Madness
This great documentary covering the early works of John Waters lets the "cats out of the proverbial bags". Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2002 by Martin A Hogan
4.0 out of 5 stars COOKIE IS NOT HERE, BUT THE VIDEO IS STILL GREAT!
THIS VIDEO IS A FASCINATING LOOK BEHIND-THE-SCENES AND INTO THE MINDS OF JOHN WATERS AND THE ORIGINAL DREAMLANDERS. Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2001 by TJAMES03
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent retrospective of Waters' work
While the film does focus on Waters' early work, especially on "Pink Flamingoes", it is an excellent view into the history and mind of the director. Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2001 by Jonathon
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a dream come true.....
...I can't believe this archive even exists, and has been in hiding all these years! It was surreal seeing Edith Massey, David Lochary and Divine (in drag during filming Pink... Read more
Published on July 26 2000 by BuyCurious
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pink Flamingos companion
This ambitious documentary concentrates on the legendary bad taste classic Pink Flamingos. Here are interviewed all the cast & crew including the deceased David Locharty and of... Read more
Published on July 24 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars very good documentary
If you're a John Waters fan you will probably enjoy this documentary quite a bit. It has lots of facts about some of the earlier films he did, interviews with Waters and cast... Read more
Published on July 21 2000 by J. C. Stine
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