Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole) is a frazzled housewife who has just been released from a mental hospital. Arriving at her suburban Baltimore home in a delicate state, she quickly decides that her husband is trying to kill her...and coerces her rotund maid, Grizelda (Jean Hill), to suffocate him with her ample bottom. In order to escape imprisonment, the unlikely duo seeks refuge in Mortville, a oddball shantytown populated by criminals and social outcasts. To the citizens' dismay, however, vicious Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey) rules the kingdom with an iron fist. With assistance from a cranky pre-op transsexual (Susan Lowe) and her sexpot lover (Liz Renay), Peggy and Grizelda attempt to navigate their strange new lives.
An antifascist fairy tale obviously influenced by THE WIZARD OF OZ, DESPERATE LIVING creates a true feeling of oppression, amid the expected gross-outs and comedic absurdities. Production designer Vincent Peranio creates an entire village on a shoestring budget, lending the film the effectively disorienting effect of a surrealistic school play. For those who like their comic boundaries dark and stretched to the limit, filmmaker John Waters once again provides sights simply not seen anywhere else.
John Waters's DESPERATE LIVING is a gleefully grotesque fairy tale that follows the outrageous exploits of the unstable (and perpetually yelling) Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole) and her maid Grizelda (Jean Hill), a woman of substantial girth, as they navigate the strange realm of Mortville (which, of course, is unsurprisingly close to Balitmore).
Cult Film |
Family Interaction |