Filthy laughs. What makes Waters so subversive? Whilst so many people major on the taboo busting (yes, important), it’s the gleeful sense of the absurd (“you are convicted of asshole-ism!”) that makes his earlier films so effective (and being so funny more likely to upset convention in the process).
With so much of the underground and avant garde too po-faced and serious in intent and execution, these films are such a blast of dirty, fresh air. I love Waters’ trash aesthetic – most effectively displayed in Female Trouble – but it’s his comedic flair that really drives these films.
From the alliterative names character names (Dawn Davenport, Donald Dasher, Francine Fishpaw et al – these almost win me over without even seeing the films) to the down n’ dirty situations – Cavalcade of Perversions in Multiple Maniacs, Dawn’s crime spree in FT to the inter-family wars in this film – Waters suffuses his scripts with such a rich sense of wicked glee and mischief, that his left-of- mainstream worlds have a upturned logic on their own.
It’s a shame this vein of underground naughtiness didn’t last longer, but nostalgia is not for here.