Multiple Maniacs (1970)

Multiple Maniacs (1970) movie poster

director John Waters
viewed: 03/21/2017

Multiple Maniacs, perhaps, but there will ever only be one Divine!

John Waters’s long languishing (due to music rights issues) Multiple Maniacs is back and restored on Criterion and so very, very deserving it is. I’ll say it again: John Waters is a national treasure.

More than anything, Mulitple Maniacs is Divine’s big star turn. When she first appears on screen, naked, in a tent, laying on he stomach, it’s every bit as big and glorious as Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo. Of course, in the wonderfully perverse and gloriously up-ending way of the Dreamland world. Waters and Divine had worked together before, but here in Multiple Maniacs it’s clear that the muse/greatest star is born.

And born again and again throughout the film, jabbing with maniacal aplomb in the final shot.

The black-and-white is a nice change, though I understand it was employed for cost reasons. Waters turns the Exploitation vibe of carny shocks and cheap thrills into the purest punk rock queer wunderbar.

It’s fantastic stuff, and yet it’s also clear that Multiple Maniacs was the warm-up act for the brilliant Pink Flamingos (1972).

I’ll give it four stars, but I give it a zillion hearts.

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