John Waters could be seen as the greatest filth director the world has ever seen. By Filth, I do not mean pornography but smut. Whats the difference? Well it is simple! Challenging, convulsive cinema that said of society and the status quo, no. Sex was a topic. As was lust. Vomit, shit, piss and fluids generated from other organs, pushed the viewers sensory buttons. All of this gained much attention and erstwhile praise. Rightfully so.

Dawn Davenport (DIVINE) lives in nowhereville USA. It has perversions and persuasions of the kind that the 50s said were not a component of it.  In her teenage life, she cares only about getting cha-cha heels for Christmas. When her family fail to provide, she strikes out. Problem is that life shits on her. Pregnant and then with kid. Working at sleaze bars and sucking dick in cars. Robbing old men. Punching and kicking…this all aint gonna end well.

John Waters films are at their core, the collapsing of the social and moral standards in to realism. They ride a wave of excess no doubt but they are something else. Imagine a fist, punching you in you face. Lost expectation, that is what you get. Within FEMALE TROUBLE (like much of his best work) the radical centre is DIVINE. She was a force of nature. A voluptuous and devilish creature. A real individual. Waters words, not mine. She makes FEMALE TROUBLE a swarm of excess. That excess which is so real and so very visceral. With a cast list like MINK STOLE, DAVID LOCHARY, MARY VIVIAN PEARCE, EDITH MASSEY, and COOKIE MUELLER, that is not an easy thing. However, it is DIVINE’s movie. Her frame and her style aside, it is her presences. It might not be the easiest watch. Its absurd and awkward. And that is why it is so good. You squirm. You slide a little. You scream a bit. You laugh and then you feel your self uncomfortable for doing so.  This is radical cinema of the sleazy, sexy order.


Do not expect miracles. 16mm is not an easy thing to make sexy or even make look vastly improved over its original state. You know and I know. This 4K restoration adds a bite here and a bit there. You see the shit stain on the underwear better as an example. Enough to make it of interest but not enough to turn water into an exotic beverage.


The 2004 commentary has been run before but it is worth listening to. The best new extras are essay by critic Ed Halter. It is funny, punchy and points to the popularity of DIVINE. She is worthy of exploration in this way and it really delves into the film and her (which I agree are not separate beings). Ed Halter known’s the works. Pointing to the way Waters work builds on a foundation of social and cultural change, criticism and analysis evolves.  Deleted scenes and alternate takes were also worth a view. Funny but also added lush humour…literally..

• New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director John Waters, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Audio commentary from 2004 featuring Waters
• New conversation between Waters and critic Dennis Lim
• New and archival interviews with cast and crew members Mink Stole, Pat Moran, Vincent Peranio, Susan Lowe, Mary Vivian Pearce, Hilary Taylor, and Van Smith
• Interview from 1975 featuring Waters and cast members Divine, Stole, and David Lochary
• Deleted scenes and alternate takes
• Exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary footage by Steve Yeager
• Plus: An essay by critic Ed Halter

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