Multiple Maniacs (John Waters / U.S., 1970):

The new decade's impact on the Age of Aquarius isn't lost on John Waters: The naked human pyramid is now part of monstrous Lady Divine's "Cavalcade of Perversions," and collapses before a gasping audience. The guerilla spectacle, arranged with tents in the park, unveils armpit-lickers, bicycle seat-sniffers and puke-eaters, bearded men touching tongues elicit the loudest jeers; the gormless ringmaster (David Lochary) gets the bourgeoisie under the big top, Divine (introduced like Ingres's Grande Odalisque) rounds them up afterwards for robbery and murder. Unhinged enough to do justice to her Jack Smithian makeup, she horrifies Lochary so much that he plots to kill her with the aid of a peroxide chiclet (Mary Vivian Pearce). Divine gets wind of the scheme but on her way to vengeance slips into a Catholic reverie: guided by the Infant of Prague to the church, her echoing, 10-minute internal monologue triggers a parallel universe where her troupe witnesses Christ's miracles (bags of bread and canned tuna on picnic tables) and Edith Massey plays the Virgin Mary. Mink Stole approaches the penitent ogre and starts the "rosary job" ("Think about the Stations of the Cross" is the frenzied erotic mantra), the capper is provided by the junkie whose punctured arm squirts blood as both money-shot and stigmata. Waters shoots the bravura bit of blasphemy for shuddering passion and keeps upping the fervor until the heroine slaughters her perfidious beau, pulls out his innards and engulfs them exultantly ("I've experienced raw happiness," like Pasolini's trembling cannibal in Pigsty). The Dalinian inspiration culminates as the enormous lobster crawls into Divine's corpse-strewn room to have its way with her -- the foamy mess left behind meets the camera's eye and cackles, the rest proceeds like the first Night of the Living Dead, that other great incineration of what we now call the Sixties. With Cookie Mueller, Susan Lowe, and Paul Swift. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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