Desperate Living (1977)

Desperate Living




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A recently released mental patient (Mink Stole) conspires with the maid (Jean Hill) to murder her husband, and then both escape to the equally demented village of Mortville for more murderous adventures involving transsexuality, disfigurement and lots of gore.

Rating: R
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: John Waters
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 1, 2003


as Muffy St. Jacques

as Peggy Gravel

as Mole McHenry

as Queen Carlotta

as Princess Coo-Coo

as Grizelda Brown

as Flipper

as Lieutenant Wilson

as Lt. Williams

as Bosley Gravel

as Muffy's Husband

as Herbert

as Pervert

as Mr. Paul
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Desperate Living

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (1)

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Even John Waters himself was not entirely pleased with his weird tale of mad housewives and eccentric lesbians in revolt, but the performances are good.

Full Review… | February 28, 2012

Desperate Living [is] a movie that feels like three separate films fused together. The first and the second are fantastic.

Full Review… | August 22, 2005
DVD Verdict

Not for the weak of heart or stomach, this one is worth a look for truly brave movie fans. People with delicate constitutions shouldn't even get close.

Full Review… | November 1, 2001
Apollo Guide

even by Waters' own admission, it is too grim and unsavory

September 26, 2001
Q Network Film Desk


Full Review… | September 9, 2001

Audience Reviews for Desperate Living

Possibly more depraved than "Pink Flamingos", if that's possible, "Desperate Living" is a paradox for the senses. Although tasteless and shocking, it is ultimately warm hearted and uproariously hilarious. Those familiar with John's style know that these contradictions work splendidly within the context that he intended them to. Never mean spirited, the outrageousness lends itself to an overall statement on the callousness of society itself. Mink Stole is simply incredible as Peggy Gravel. Her ranting and raving throughout the film is side splitting. Special mention to Jean Hill as Grizelda, Liz Renay as Muffy, and of course the ever demure (ha!) Edith Massey as Queen Carlotta. Leave all inhibitions at the door and enjoy this twisted fairy tale roller coaster ride of a good time

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer


An adult fairy tale in which the evil queen of a shanty-town called Mortville is overthrown by a bunch of lesbians. Some of this is hilarious but, on the whole, Waters' satire is darker and less flippant than usual, and it's less enjoyable as a result. Mink Stole and Edith Massey are on superb form in this.

Stephen M

Super Reviewer

A trashy sleazy fairy-tale - done the John Waters way. A bored housewife and her obese maid escape to a fantasy shanty-Kingdom, ruled by a kinky old Queen and her faggy leather soldiers. Life is filthy and unpredictable, with Lesbian neighbors, royal proclamations and some cruel discipline. It's borderline porn with ugly people. Expect the unexpected! Prepare to be shocked and amused. I got a huge laugh out of it. Probably my favorite John Waters flick.

Lafe Fredbjornson

Super Reviewer

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