Director John Waters broke new boundaries of bad taste with his hilariously trashy tale of suburban misadventure Polyester. His favorite leading lady, transvestite Divine, plays Francine Fishpaw, a dissatisfied suburban ho... more »usefrau who longs for a little romance in her life because her husband and children drive her crazy. Salvation arrives in the form of Tod Tomorrow (Tab Hunter), a drive-in owner who sweeps Francine off her feet (a mean task, given Divine's girth). But he's not all he's cracked up to be. Everyone in Desperate Living's Mortville has some horrible secret to hide. The mentally unstable Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole, in a superb display of overacting) and her 300-pound-plus maid Grizelda must take it on the lam after Grizelda smothers Peggy's husband under her elephantine buttocks. They find themselves in Mortville, a shanty fiefdom ruled by the grotesque Queen Carlotta (the incomparable Edith Massey). The evil queen delights in tormenting her subjects, but Peggy and Grizelda soon team up with a pair of lesbian outcasts, and a rebellion is in the air. Notable for the absence of Waters regular Divine, this movie pushes the rest of the cast to their over-the-top best. Nasty, shabby, gross, and hilarious, this is John Waters at his best.« less
Dean Glass | San Diego, CA United States | 11/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two more of John Waters cinematic attrocities have finally been released on DVD. If you only know Waters through his more recent titles Hairspray, Serial Mom, and Cry-Baby, you may be surprised at what lurks on these discs.The first film is Desperate Living. I must tell you I am a long-time Waters fan, and have seen all his film from Mondo Trasho on (including The Diane Linkletter Story), but sadly, this is my least favorite of his films. It's not necessarily bad (for a John Waters movie, that is); it just is not as funny or as happy as his other films. Neither Divine (who was unavailable) nor David Lockery (who was dead) appeared in Desperate Living, and Waters seemed lost without them. This movie is about a town called Mortville, where criminals are allowed to live instead of going to prison. Edith Massey, in her best film role, plays evil Queen Carlotta, who relishes in humiliating her subjects and having her sexual needs met by her "goons". Mink Stole is also in top form here, thanks to the meaty role of an hysterical housewife, who, together with her maid Grizelda, murder her husband and escape to Mortville. Another Waters regular, Mary Vivian Pearce, plays Princess Coo-Coo who, against Queen Carlotta's wishes, falls in love with the garbage collector at the Mortville nudist colony. There are also a female-to-male sex-change operation, a bowl of dog food used as a murder weapon, and female "glory holes" which must be seen to be believed.Polyester, on the other hand, is a great film. Although Hairspray was Waters breakthrough to mainstream filmmaking, you can tell he was on his way with Polyester. Divine is back, this time playing a victimized housewife with a philandering husband and two dilinquent children. Her life is a complete mess until she meets suave, debonair, (and rich!) Todd Tomorrow, played by Tab Hunter, Waters' first "real" movie star. However, Todd may not be what he appears to be... In an homage to film director William Castle, who used gimmicks to promote his movies, Waters used a gimmick for Polyester: Odorama. Theatergoers were issued Odorama Cards upon entering the theater; each card had ten numbered scratch-and-sniff patches on one side. At certain points during the film, a number would flash on the screen, indicating that it was time to scratch and sniff. The DVD comes with one Odorama card, which is great, unless you want to have a movie party. However, vintage Odorama cards can usually be purchased reasonably on eBay. Just heed the film's warning: "Some things in life just plain stink!"The commentary track for Polyester is Waters at his brilliant best--most of his audio commentaries are as funny or funnier than his films. The track for Desperate Living, on the other hand, is a disappointment. Waters shares the track with cast member Liz Renay, who has a tendancy to ramble on about things having nothing to do with the movie. You get the impression that each was allotted a set amount of time, and Waters, who's commentary is informative and entertaining is continuously curtailed by Miss Renay's incessant chatter. Waters' other "shared" commentary track is on the DVD of Hairspray. He is joined by Ricki Lake, and their give and take works great. For Desperate Living, Waters should have gone it alone."
POLYESTER gets better with age!
David P Jaudon | Ballston Spa, NY United States | 09/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being a huge John Waters fan, I am delighted to see many of his infamous, earlier films being released on DVD. However, it's amazing to me how the passage of time changes your perspective. I used to think that "Desperate Living" was second only to "Female Trouble" as John Waters' best film and thought that "Polyester" was an occasionally funny, but slightly derivative suburban satire. After watching these two films again recently, my opinions have reversed. Despite some sharp writing and some deliciously rude moments, "Desperate Living" is almost unbearable to watch due to the fact that 95% of the dialogue is either shouted or shrieked. In fact, the only other film I could compare it to is "Network", another film that's brilliantly written, but agonizing to sit through due to the shrillness of the performances. While Waters earlier films are hardly subtle, "Desperate Living" is particularly grating.On the other hand, "Polyester" gets better and better as time goes on. While not as visually shocking as "Desperate Living", "Polyester" has a better script, contains much funnier dialogue and has a better satirical edge. Bratty Lulu's speech about how she can't wait to have an abortion, likening her fetus to "a cancer ... eating away at all the fun I deserve to have" seems even more offensive nowadays. The film's attacks on right-to-lifers and moral majority types is especially daring, considering its Regan-era release date.All in all, if you're a Waters fan, you've gotta buy this package, but I think I'll be watching "Polyester" a bit more often than "Desperate Living"."
Kasey G | 01/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...screams Mink Stole in the opening rant of this delicious double scoop of filth and decadence. And that line sums it up perfectly: this DVD set picks up where "Pink Flamingos/Female Trouble" leave off. "Desperate Living" was the only movie in John Waters' 70's trash trilogy I had never seen (because it was never available at any local video stores) and I was unsure as to whether he could pull off another camp/trash masterpiece without his "Elizabeth Taylor" (I am referring, of course to that wonderfully, hilariously vulgar creature known as Divine). Ten minutes into this disc, and that answer was a definite "yes!". Right from its opening moments, "Desperate" has the same sleazy feel as its predecessors, and the lines that come out of Mink Stole's mouth could make up an entire CD of laugh-til-you-drop sound bytes. Sheer brilliance! And the film just gets better as it goes along, when Mink and Jean Hill descend upon Mortville and Susan Lowe and Liz Renay ("I sleep in the room right next to you.....NAAA-keddd!") enter the picture. Their flashback sequences are among the funniest moments in the movie and the "dog food" scene made me laugh out loud--but the "squish" scene at the end of the wrestling match almost made me pee my pants, it was so riotously funny! Mary Vivian Pearce actually gives a somewhat touching performance here, as I felt sorry for Princess Coo Coo once ruthless Edith Massey as Queen Carlotta started putting her wicked plans into action. The lesbian bathroom bit was another memorable sequence (Pat Moran--kudos to you for a brief but deliciously creepy turn as the "bathroom pervert"--and to Van Smith for making her look that way). Susan Lowe as Mole delivered another gut-busting moment as she stood there proudly waving her newly-attached penis ("It never goes soft!!") but also made me wince as Muffy finished off the last "stitch" making Mole scream in agony. Aside from Princess Coo-Coo's fate at the end, the movie is a real camp classic that, like the rest of Waters' earlier work, definitely improves with repeated viewings. Watch it with friends and you will all be quoting from it for days--"Royal proclomation Number One--Kiss...my...ass!!". The commentary on this disc is a little disappointing because Waters' shares the time with cast member Liz Renay who spends way too much time raving about her own body and how much she loves her own boobs, but she can be forgiven because I'm sure this discussion must have brought back plenty of fun memories for her. Waters alone does the commentary on "Polyester", which brings Divine back to the forefront as suburban matriach Francine Fishpaw, who's life of suburban bliss is constantly threatened by one crisis after another. Several of the Dreamlanders appear in this one, but in minor roles (Mink Stole is sadly under-used) yet Divine manges to hold it all together, and the actors playing her teen-age children deliver funny performances, with Lulu's go-go girl-gone-bad antics being a definite highlight (she even has her own theme song). "Polyester" is John Waters' "transition" film--not as offensive to mainstream audiences as some of his earlier works, but still quirky enough so as not to alienate fans of those earlier works. It too, is filled with wickedly bad dialogue you'll be quoting daily ("Scrub down any interesting toilets lately?"). Together, these two films will provide hours of fun--put these on at your next party and see who goes running for cover--you'll find out who your REAL friends are. Buy this set together with "Pink Flamingos/Female Trouble" and you've got hours of fun!!"
Kasey G | 03/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Polyester" is definitely a lot tamer than John Waters' previous films, but still stands true to his name. "Polyester" is still as funny as when I watched for the first time a few years ago. An added bonus is that the OdorRama card is included with the DVD. I have never had the chance to view the film with the card in hand, so this was a nice suprise. It definitely adds to film, I couldn't believe how disgusting some of the smells were! I loved it! "Polyester" remains one of my favorite John Waters films, probably because it was one of the first films I saw of his and adored.
"Desperate Living" is my favorite John Waters' movie. I love the characters in the film and how the story comes accross as a morbid type fairy-tale. Edith Massey as Queen Carlotta is absolutely hilarious. The lines that she blurts out are so fantastic! I laugh everytime!"
Funny commentaries, but "Desperate Living" only for true fan
David P Jaudon | 09/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This package, the second part of a dvd trilogy, is a must for Waters' fans. As usual, his commentary tracks are very funny and even hold up to repeated listenings. The sound isn't spectacular -- Desperate Living is mono and Polyester Dolby Surround -- but I'm sure this is due to limitations in the source material. Until "Hairspray", John Waters was a very low budget director. "Polyester", his most mainstream film at the time of its release, still only cost about $300,000 to produce. But some of his earliest films are his best, and I put "Polyester" in that camp. The script is very funny and all of the performers give outstanding, if idiosyncratic, performances. There certainly has never been and probably will never be another performer like Edith Massey. And, yes, the dvd does come with an "Odorama" card!I have always been less thrilled with "Desperate Living." I enjoyed it more this time around, but I still find it less consistently funny than Waters' best films. The first 15 minutes or so are hysterical; Mink Stole screams some of the funniest lines Waters has ever written. But once the scene shifts to Mortville, the script is uneven and, at times, even boring.Apart from the commentaries (the commentary track on "Desperate Living" also includes "star" Liz Renay), there aren't many extras -- just a few trailers. I hope that when the "Pink Flamingos"/
"Female Trouble" set comes out that the FT disc either includes deleted scenes or features the longer version that I have seen in the theater but not on home video.Also of note: if one buys all three 3-packs, one can send away for a "bonus" John Waters dvd ... -- certificate in package, also requires original yellow tabs from all three dvd sets."