Pink Flamingos

Director: John Waters

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Made for the paltry sum of ten thousand dollars, Pink Flamingos launched John Waters’s national reputation and instantly became a cult-film hit. It also attracted the attention of moral watchdogs across the country. Viewers were never quite sure whether the end of the film would arrive before the local vice squad, which probably added immeasurably to its appeal.

Subtitled “an exercise in bad taste,” Pink Flamingos takes on and demolishes just about every known middle-class value. The plot concerns a competition for the filthiest person alive between Divine, who lives in a trailer with her egg-fixated Mama Edie, her sex-obsessed son Crackers, and his voyeuristic traveling companion Cotton, and Raymond and Connie Marble. The Marbles think they deserve the title because they sell heroin in elementary schools and have their butler Channing impregnate kidnapped young women so they can sell their babies. Waters cuts back and forth between the two factions as they engage in an accelerating effort to outgross each other and the audience. The film culminates with one of the most famous scenes in the Waters pantheon of bad taste: Divine eating dog excrement to prove beyond a doubt that she is the filthiest person alive.

Pink Flamingos has had a checkered history, screening at locales as diverse as seedy midnight art cinemas and the Museum of Modern Art. Is it a classic or a pornographic piece of garbage? Come to this special twenty-fifth anniversary screening and decide for yourself . . . if you dare.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

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