Multiple Maniacs (1970)

multiple maniacs poster 1970 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 4/10

Intentionally vulgar and bad to become good

Have to be able to accept John Waters' style

Movie Info

Movie Name: Multiple Maniacs

Studio: Movie Studio

Genre(s): Horror/Comedy/B-Movie

Release Date(s): Movie Release Date

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

multiple maniacs lobster rape divine

Well…giant lobsters attacking drag queens…looks like a John Waters movie

“Lady Divine’s Cavalcade of Perversions” caters to those who hope to get a glimpse of the obscene and perverse.  With the barker Mr. David (David Lochary) and the crew calling people in, Lady Divine (Divine) uses the opportunity to rob and shame the victims.  Mr. David wants out, but he is held in place by Lady Divine’s big secret over him about what happened in Hollywood in 1969.  When Mr. David meets a woman named Bonnie (Mary Vivian Pearce), he plots his means for escape.  Unfortunately, Lady Divine knows of his plans and her new “friend” Mink (Mink Stole) also have a plan.

Written and directed by John Waters, Multiple Maniacs is a low-budget cult horror-comedy.  The film was shot and edited by Waters and takes its name from 1964 horror movie Two Thousand Maniacs!  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #836).

multiple maniacs divine mink stole lady gaga

Hey Mink…in about 40 years someone named Lady Gaga is going to steal your look

John Waters is an acquired taste (and even if you like him, you may still not like the “taste” he leaves in your mouth).  Multiple Maniacs is typical Waters in that it pushes the boundaries of decency and then crosses them.  Full of shock value, the movie is one of the stranger adventures you’ll ever experience.

Much of what Waters does in this movie and his other films is shock value.  He doesn’t try to normalize what at the time especially was considered “abnormal behavior” like homosexuality and drag queens, but he blows it up.  The characters in the film are everyone’s fear of the unknown factor of a non-straight society.  Men just making out, sex in churches, and even cannibalism.  It is the worst night of a “good Christian” and plays with that absurdity.  It is meant to be offensive, but it is done in a means that shows how ridiculous it is as well.

The cast doesn’t even attempt to act for the most part.  Pulled from Waters’ Dreamland acting troupe (they weren’t call that at the time), the lines are delivered in a flat tone that often doesn’t match the scene.  Actors sometimes forget lines and the movie goes on.  It adds to the low-budget nature of the film and gives it a porn-feel that ties in with Waters’ storytelling and visuals.  It is also friends having fun.

multiple maniacs divine insane

We all go a little crazy sometimes (lobsters can do that to you).

The movie is poorly constructed, and Waters seems to take all the rules of filmmaking and reverses them.  Unlike something like Plan 9 from Outer Space where Ed Wood was attempting to make a good movie with no budget, Waters makes a horrible movie with no budget.  They used locations where the police could not find them or arrest them like Waters’ apartment and his parents’ house.  He lowers the expectations by doing things that intentionally had to be decisions and mimics movies like those being done by other experimental filmmakers like Warhol.

Multiple Maniacs is an experience.  There aren’t many movies where a drag queen has sex in a church and then is raped by a giant lobster.  The movie isn’t for everyone and the movie can be seen as inventive or cheap.  The movie is a movie of outcasts, friends, and people who were fringe and made by people who were fringe.  It revels in its vulgarity.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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