John Waters ought to have his own suburb of Baltimore named after him where transvestites, foot stompers, rebels, dysfunctional families, serial killers, renegade guerilla filmmakers, conventional citizens and now sex addicts can all unite to form their own paradoxal society. “A Dirty Shame” is John Waters’ most no-holds-barred effort since his infamous “Pink Flamingos”. Waters takes a relatively small socially relevant concept and exaggerates it to the point of making a mountain out of a molehill. Result …proverbial pissing of the pants.
Waters again satirizes the effects of extremities on conservative society, only this time he is dealing with sex addiction * Bob Crane eat your heart out!
The film follows Sylvia Stickle (the amazing comical talent Tracy Ullman) who is a self-proclaimed neuter (normal person) who ignores all of her sexual instincts until she suffers an accidental “concussion” which brings out the sexual demon hiding inside of her. Her husband Vaughn (Chris Isaak) is a mostly sqaure average Joe and their colossally breasted daughter Caprice (Selma Blair) is under house arrest for her deviant sexual escapades. A sexual healer named Ray Ray (Johnny Knoxville) comes to her rescue during her slumber opening her up (literally) to her every orgasmic desire. This creates havoc on the city John Waters style as everyone goes sex crazy, wanting to do anyone, anywhere, anytime. In Body Snatchers style, neuters flee their homes as if Baltimore were hit by an outbreak of the plague. Sylvia is soon diagnosed with “runaway vagina” and a knock to the head can instigate it without warning.
Subliminal style messages flash on and off the screen such as W-H-O-R-E, V-A-G-I-N-A and B-O-N-E-R at various times throughout the film working as title cards warning us of the type of sexual mayhem to follow. This reminds me of the clever “odorama” scratch n’ sniff gimmick Waters employed for “Polyester”. The film is destined to incorporate new Waters’ slang into common vocabulary such as “viagravated” and “funch”. To me his colloquial speech is as meaningful as anything Mr. Oxford comes up with!
“Concussion” allows society to drop their sexual guard and learn to enjoy natural erotic urges, thus removing the complications humans and evolution added to the animal instinct survival mode of our ape derivative, simply acting on feeling without complicating such desire with logic and over thinking. Quite intelligent messages herein and just like every colorful John Waters adventure, he has something to say. Only in his world abnormality and dysfunction are the norm and right-wingers are the weird ones. I love it how he can do such a number on society and turn the tables in extraordinary fashion.
Waters can never be detested for his gross-out humor, because he presents the subject matter with an innocent 1950s TV family style charm and ignorance. A great satire on our sexually repressed society and the effects it has on them when they burst the banks of a dam on the road to sexual awakening. He also pokes fun at AA, recovery and the 12 step program as the Waters’ equivalent to step 9 * “make direct amends to the people you have harmed except when to do so would injure them or others” is “make a list of all the people you f****d and apologize to their parents”. They say relapse is common during recovery?
Is it normal to ignore urges? Have we become too civilised?
The performances are all on-par, specifically Tracy Ullman and Suzanne Shepherd who are amazing talents to watch with their different acting styles. Featuring magnificent Waters’ regulars Mink Stole and Patricia (Patty) Hearst in their usual wacky roles, almost stealing the show even in their small amount of screen time! God bless Mr. Waters for he always delivers and he is so unique that no one can ever imitate the master of gross-out humor.
The DVD contains two feature commentaries, one by director John Waters and the other by five crew members from the film. The John Water’s commentary is wild and much like another film in itself as he expresses his charming wit while the other five crew members kind of feel like the best possible Waters’ recruits as they share the same sense of humor as him. A hilarious deleted scene can also be found featuring Johnny Knoxville giving himself fellacio to the literal giant prop snake in between his legs as well as a funny behind the scenes documentary which shows the madness on a John Waters set might be even crazier than it is on film.
A wonderful package and recommended for true Water’s fans, accepting no substitutes. Who is their right mind would want to watch the R-rated version. To cut down this film would like etching off sections of the twelve commandments * it wouldn’t make sense. It’s filthy, it’s repulsive, it’s John Waters at his usual best and I love it! An explosion of laughter in every orifice!