FEMALE TROUBLE(director/writer: John Waters; cinematographer: John Waters; editor: John Waters/Charles Roggero; cast: Divine (Dawn Davenport/Earl), Michael Potter (Gator), Edith Massey (Aunt Ida), Mary Vivian Pierce (Donna Dasher), David Lochary (Donald Dasher), Taffy Davenport (Mink Stole), Cookie Mueller (Concetta), Susan Walsh (Chicklette), Betty Woods (Mrs. Davenport), Roland Hertz (Mr. Davenport), George Hulse (Mr. Weinberger); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: X; producer: John Waters; New Line Home Video; 1974)
“There’s nothing divine about this earthly piece of trash.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
John Waters (“Pink Flamingos”/”Hairspray”/”Polyester”) directs this sordid one-joke bad taste comedy spoof that in some circles is considered a cult classic. It’s a sicko tale, with marginal wit, that features the jumbo 300-pound transvestite Divine doing his nasty thing, which starts out at least somewhat funny but soon becomes just tedious. There’s nothing divine about this earthly piece of trash.
It opens in 1960 with delinquent Baltimore high school student Dawn Davenport (Divine) receiving detention for eating a meatball sub in Mr. Weinberger’s class. At home Dawn wakes up on Christmas day expecting her parents to give her a pair of cha-cha heels, but when that doesn’t materialize she throws a temper tantrum and tumbles the Christmas tree atop of mom and runs away from home. Dawn hitches a ride with a passing motorist, a vulgar dolt mechanic named Earl, who takes her out to the woods and rapes her (the rapist and the vic are both played by Divine).
The film chronicles Dawn’s troubled life. It covers her giving birth to the bratty child Taffy (Mink Stole), the result of the rape; as a career woman, working as a waitress and then a go-go dancer; her unhappy marriage to hairdresser Gator (Michael Potter), which ends when the 14-year-old Taffy eliminates him and Dawn keeps his obese fag hag Aunt Ida (Edith Massey) locked in a bird cage wearing a white gown and then chops off her arm with an ax as she sits; her crime career springs up in earnest when Donna and Donald Dasher (Mary Vivian Pierce and David Lochary), the pervert owners of The Lipstick Beauty Saloon, who revel in the criminal as their role model for what’s beautiful, see Dawn as their next big “discovery” and sponsor her nightclub act that leads to her mowing down the audience as part of the act. Brought to trial, Dawn’s string of muggings, kidnappings and the strangling to death of her daughter in the name of art, are revealed. The kicker comes when Dawn is sentenced to the electric chair.
Divine works hard for her few laughs. Only Mink Stole steals a few more laughs, as her 14-year-old daughter who has the face of a thirtysomething and the tongue of a wildcat. Waters tries to do Warhol, but he just never reaches the same level of improper campy anti-social madness. Its appeal is mostly for die-hard Waters fans and those attracted to junk.
REVIEWED ON 2/5/2007 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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