Archive for the ‘black comedy’ Tag

Multiple Maniacs (1970)   6 comments

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Question: How do you know you’re watching a John Waters film?
Answer: When the film opens with a carnival barker luring unsuspecting victims into a tent full of fetishists so he can rob them, you’re in a John Waters film.

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Mr. David hawks the Cavalcade of Perversions.

Yup. Lady Divine (Divine) and her cohorts put cigarettes out on each other, sniff a topless woman’s armpits and eat vomit. Then, when the square suburbanites can take no more, Divine brandishes a revolver, robs the crowd, and shoots any dissenters, cackling all the while.

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“Say what again.”

After the robbery, the gang flees and we discover that Mr. David (David Lochary), the barker and lover of Lady Divine, has fallen for another woman. David keeps the affair a secret because Lady Divine threatens to tell the police he was in on the Tate murders. It IS 1970. Lady Divine, gets word of David’s betrayal and vows to kill him.

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Edith Massey drops a dime on Mr. David.

On her way to commit murder, two lowlifes accost her and drag her into an alley. Dazed from the attack, Lady Divine runs into a toddler dressed as the Pope who leads her to a church. Lady Divine prays for guidance. As she kneels in prayer, she meets Mink Stole who clearly has eyes for her. It’s a John Waters film so the two women have sex in a pew using a rosary. Now Lady Divine has an accomplice. The two lovers head to Lady Divine’s apartment to snuff Mr. David.

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Lady Divine walks with a tiny Pope.

Mr. David and his oversexed lover await the pair in Lady Divine’s apartment where they’ve accidentally killed Divine’s ever-topless daughter. Now there’s no turning back. There’s a nutty bloodbath with one survivor. As Lady Divine lies on the sofa surrounded by the bodies of her enemies and crowing about crimes to come, a huge lobster crawls into her living room and rapes her. I never thought I’d write that sentence. Anyway, stuff, like a crucifixion, happens after that, but who cares? A giant lobster rapes Divine. Needless to say, the scene catches you off guard.

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“Quick! Get the drawn butter!”

John Waters wrote, directed, produced, and shot Multiple Maniacs in his native Baltimore. During his introduction to the film at the Provincetown International Film Festival in June of 2016, he said he filmed the Cavalcade of Perversion on his parents’ front lawn. Waters cast friends Edith Massey, Mink Stole, Pat Moran, David Lochary, and Divine in lead roles. Friendship trumped acting ability, but that’s not important. This is not so much a film as a happening. It is also, as film critic J. Hoberman notes, John Waters most overtly Catholic film. Janus/Criterion just restored the film and it looks great. It’s also weirdly entertaining. Everyone is crazily over the top and the whole film is a riot. I watched Multiple Maniacs for the first time in a full theatre with John Waters in attendance and the place went nuts.  It’s vile, disgusting, and fun to watch.

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Rating: 4 Lobsters

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Ravenous (1999)   2 comments

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After serving in the Mexican-American War, disgraced Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is exiled to the backwater post of Fort Spencer in the Sierra Nevadas.  Soon after, a man stumbles into camp saying he came from a lost wagon train.  F.W. Colqhoun (Robert Carlyle) claims the leader of his group, Colonel Ives led the pioneers to a so-called shortcut through the mountains where they got lost and quickly ran out of food.  Colqhoun recounts that Ives then convinced the party to eat each other.  “The day that Jones died I was out collecting wood, and when I returned the others were cooking his legs for dinner.”

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Bon appetit!

Upon hearing that there might still be survivors at Colqhoun’s camp, the small contingent from Fort Spencer set out to rescue them from the wicked Colonel Ives.  As they explore the pioneers’ digs, the men realize they’re up against a lot more than an unbalanced man.

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“You don’t like it?  Fine.  All the more for me.”

Antonia Bird (FACE) took over as director of RAVENOUS after shooting began on the recommendation of Robert Carlyle.  She does a great job of keeping up the tension.  The story, written by Ted Griffin (MATCHSTICK MEN) keeps you guessing and the performances by Guy Pearce, John Spencer, Jeffrey Jones, Jeremy Davies, and especially Neal McDonough and the utterly wonderful Robert Carlyle make the film fly by.  The script, full of dark humor and references to cannibalism and the Wendigo legend is witty and dry and the cast is well up to it.  The Wendigo, by the way, is a part man/part monster legend of the Algonquian people who say that once a man has eaten human flesh, he absorbs the strengths of those he’s eaten.  Of course, now he’s evil and is consumed (See what I did there?) with finding more men to eat.  Nummy.

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You can’t eat just one!

RAVENOUS was a neat black comedy which dipped into one of my favorite historic tales.  I’ll watch pretty much anything about the Donner Party and the shortcut referred to in Colqhoun’s story sounds a lot like Hastings Cutoff to me.  An unpredictable story, terrific acting, sharp direction, and a creepy Morricone-ish score by Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman all work to make RAVENOUS a wonderful watch.  I can’t believe it took me so long to see it.

aaaamc
“Alas, poor…oh jeez.”

haunty

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