In Bad Taste: The John Waters Story

In Bad Taste: The John Waters Story

Directed by Steve Yeager

Documentary, USA, 1999

There’s a litmus test that separates the true cinema buff from those who simply go to a lot of movies — do you know John Waters? Thirty years ago, John Waters crept into the world of film making as the arbiter of bad taste in cinema. Free from the limits of conventional film financing (i.e. no money whatsoever), Waters created a new genre. He invented the midnight movie — films so perverse, so disgusting, so far-out that they could not be shown to that segment of the American public that holds any sort of steady day job. Waters’ films are the original slacker events. Featuring homosexuality and big hair, coprophagy and cha cha shoes, he rose from humble Baltimore to the level of Roger Corman and Lloyd Kaufman.

Interviews with Waters, his stars, and his technical crew paint him as a fun-loving guy with a truly sick vision. He shocks without offending, offends with out shocking, and documents what we Americans want, way deep down, so far down we don’t realize it ourselves. His dozen or so films show a strong artistic progression, mirroring not only his maturation (oh, say to about age 12), but society’s increased tolerance of its own sleazy underbelly. Willing to bake a rat for art, John Waters message is simple and to the point — nothing is in bad taste if it makes you laugh.

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