Desperate Living

Critics Consensus

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70%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 10

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,074
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Desperate Living Photos

Movie Info

Divine was touring as a cabaret singer when director John Waters made this comedy of the grotesque, but he filled the void admirably with the equally rotund Jean Hill and burlesque-queen Liz Renay. The film tells the story of Peggy Gravel (Mink Stole), a mad housewife who kills her husband then goes on the lam with her 300-pound maid Grizelda (Hill). After being sexually accosted by a lewd, cross-dressing cop with gingivitis, the women are directed to Mortville, a shanty-town for fugitive criminals ruled by the evil Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey). Carlotta's daughter, Princess Coo-Coo (Mary Vivian Pearce) wants to renounce the throne and marry a nudist garbageman, so the Queen has him killed and enlists Peggy's aid in infecting the kingdom with rabies. Waters uses a fairy-tale framework to indulge his penchant for nauseating set-pieces, such as a transsexual lesbian (Susan Lowe) having her new penis cut off with scissors and fed to a dog, women being fed live cockroaches, and Peggy being assaulted at a lesbian glory-hole. Massey is hilarious as the Queen, urging her leather-clad bodyguards/sex-toys to "rob my safety-deposit box!," but the oddly-named actor Turkey Joe steals the show in his brief role as a lecherous cop, spouting lines like "I love the feel of cold nylon on my big butt!" and slobbering over Grizelda's huge underpants. The pinnacle of gross-out humor, Desperate Living is Waters' strangest and funniest film.

Cast

Liz Renay
as Muffy St. Jacques
Mink Stole
as Peggy Gravel
Susan Lowe
as Mole McHenry
Edith Massey
as Queen Carlotta
Mary Vivian Pearce
as Princess Coo-Coo
Jean Hill
as Grizelda Brown
Ed Peranio
as Lieutenant Wilson
Channing Wilroy
as Lt. Williams
George Stover
as Bosley Gravel
Roland Hertz
as Muffy's Husband
George Figgs
as Herbert
Pat Moran
as Pervert
Paul Swift
as Mr. Paul
View All

Critic Reviews for Desperate Living

All Critics (10) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Desperate Living

  • Jul 21, 2011
    It's dirty, it's funny, it's sick, it's hilarious. The storytelling is interesting, it's a whole lot of weird ideas combined, and yet the compound is clear and simple
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2010
    I am not a fan of John Water. I fact, I do not think he is a good filmmaker. People claim that his movies are ironic but I think that is just the way people want to see it which I can understand but the films are too poignant and superficial for my tastes to count as satire. I am sure, reading up on Waters, reading his books and interviews might shed some light on this matter but it is not my responsibility as a viewer to translate the movie into my language of perception. Some of the images and characters are fascinating and contemporary directors such as Lynch have borrowed a fair share from Waters but all the interesting elements and pieces do not make for a good movie. HX
    Henrik S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 05, 2008
    It's a fairy tale, John Waters style. Features one of the oddest lesbian scenes in history (outside of an actual porno).
    Shane D Super Reviewer
  • May 18, 2008
    Not my favourite John Waters film..
    The M Super Reviewer

Desperate Living Quotes

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