Female Trouble ★★

39/100

Disliking early John Waters makes me feel like the schoolmaster in Pink Floyd's The Wall, but reveling in grotesquerie for its own sake, even when conceived as an outsiders' manifesto, just isn't my thing. Waters dedicates Female Trouble to Tex Watson, whom he'd befriended at the time, and while he's since expressed sincere regret about being so flippant, the film does often play like the work of someone who identifies with a sadistic mass murderer rather than with said killer's victims. It's a deliberately ugly work on every level, lacking (at least to my mind) the scabrous wit that might justify or at least offset its repugnant aspects. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I didn't laugh. Only Waters' affection for his ensemble and Divine's manic-depressive energy penetrate the surface-level ineptitude; had I somehow seen this with zero foreknowledge of Waters' reputation and importance in cinema history, I'd likely have dismissed it as utter trash. Which of course would delight the author of Shock Value, so in a sense I'm fulfilling my ordained role here. Just wish I found these movies remotely funny, or at least good disreputable fun. (Glorious exception: Multiple Maniacs' crustacean violation, which cranks the absurdism to 11 and beyond.)