A release like this makes me wonder if the guys behind The Criterion Collection are taking a tip from Arrow Video and pushing their marketing towards fans of the strange and unusual. These fans (yeah I’m talking about you and me) are the last of a dying breed. We are the ones that are still buying physical media. I guess people are still buying Transformers 11 and Really Fast, Really Furious 20; but, it is becoming more apparent everyday that the niche fan that is keeping the world of physical media alive. Whether that is a good or bad thing is really of no use to us at this point. It is merely a theory as to the newer, and hopefully more adventurous, strategy being taken up by Criterion.
As for Multiple Maniacs, it is an early film from John Waters that many common fans know nothing about. Everyone knows about Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, and for the most part Crybaby and Serial Mom. Multiple Maniacs is an earlier film that falls more along the lines of Pink Flamingos. It possesses the shocking underground raunchiness of the pre-musical/comedy films that Waters is more known for in the “mainstream”.
While I am no expert on John Waters, I can say I am a fan. I am also a fan that has a growing amount of interest in his past work. I have seen Pink Flamingos; but as a child of the eighties, I am far more familiar with those more “mainstream” films that I previously mentioned. So when I make the blatant comparison of maniacs to flamingos, it is only because I am still working on finding copies of Female Trouble, Polyester, and Desperate Living. This makes it obvious that I have a journey to go on in regard to the true cult status of his most infamous films.
With all of that being said, this film was an eye opening experience. It was a movie that I could only attempt to compare to the craziest episodes of South Park mixed with the most shocking elements of modern day cinematic shock comedies. It is a film that is purposefully offensive, going after every aspect of modern society. The suburbanites, the freaks, the straights, the gays, the religious fanatics, maybe even the atheists will all manage to be offended by something in this film. Hopefully, of course in the world of the PC Police, they would also be able to lighten up and find an amazing amount of hilarity in this X-rated film that is almost fifty years old! Like giving your favorite celebrity a rosary job while being banged by a huge aquatic animal, this film guarantees to be one that you will want to experience, but possibly hide from your friends and family.
The sleazy, brutal, hilarious, and blasphemous nature of this film makes it a must-own for this film fan. It is a great collector’s piece for fans of the trashy and disturbing. I am so glad that The Criterion Collection put this out. Next to their Asian sets like Lone Wolf and Cub, Lady Snowblood, and Zatoichi, this is one of my favorite releases from this company. I am glad to see that they are branching out from foreign films that must be classy because you haven’t heard of them, and stuff that is too old to hold the attention of most modern day viewers. Sure, I own some of these films. From M to Letter Never Sent, there are movies on this label that work for the film historian. If you want to sell DVDs, however, today’s generation barely has the attention span for a 47 year old movie, let alone a 70 year old film. I hope this is the film that does just that. I hope it is the release that brings multiple generations of cinematic maniacs together in and orgy of disgusting and distasteful depravity.