John Waters is certainly an acquired taste. The Pope of Trash may be best known for the original Hairspray, but this purveyor of the purile made a name for himself with his shoestring budget camp thrillers. Perhaps the most iconic of these is Female Trouble, starring the one and only Divine as Dawn Davenport, a woman on the edge who is relentless in her pursuit of fame, beauty, and her rejection of the ordinary.
Following her rise from a repressed teenager in Baltimore to delusional fame seeker and beauty queen, Dawn's journey is one of found family and a desire to stand out despite never fitting in. It's hard to say that Female Trouble is an easy watch, but it is certainly one that will stick with you. There's a reason that Waters' oeuvre is viewed with a cultish reverence.
The biggest takeaway from this spooky season must-watch is this: the scariest thing isn't monsters. It's forced heteronormativity. Let's dive in.
1. Bring back extensive and stylized credits before a movie. No one sticks around to see the names anymore. Make us witness the work!
2. Question for those who were Extremely Online in the mid-2000s: was the Shoes video a Waters homage? This film has huge "I'm gonna GET what I want" energy already.
3. These are some of the oldest "teenagers" I've ever seen.
4. The sperm shaped eyebrow is a trend I hope we never return to. I feel like it's reared its hideous head every 20 years or so, and I can't live through that again.
5. Oh yeah, Dawn walked so Kelly could run.
6. Sensible flats for Christmas? I'd throw a fit too.
7. Listen, I know being politically incorrect was Waters' whole deal, but this rape scene. Woof.
8. Divine in a dual role of Dawn and Earl is insane and maybe genius. That delivery of "Go F*** yourself for all I care" will stick with me.
9. SHE RIPPED THE UMBILICAL CORD WITH HER TEETH.
10. I think this is what the GOP thinks Antifa is.
11. Aunt Ida is an iconic ally. "The world of heterosexuals is a sick and boring life."
12. I am calling the horny police on everyone that works at the Lipstick Beauty Salon.
13. Taking applications to do this as a couple's costume Halloween 2022.
14. "I'm a thief and a sh*tkicker and I'd like to be famous" is one hell of a cover letter.
15. I know we all lost our minds over seeing The Crown's take on Diana's wedding dress, but THIS is the look.
16. Married life doesn't suit Dawn any better than the life of petty crime, it seems. Gender roles are a prison!
17. "Needle nose pliers" just made me clench my knees together for the rest of my life.
18. I take it back. This is the oldest "teenager" I've ever seen.
19. "I wouldn't suck your d*ck if I was suffocating and there was oxygen in your balls" is being tucked away into my brain for future use.
20. The scene where they take the hairdo back is straight from a Twitter joke.
21. The codependence of beauty and crime is a flawed premise. On one hand, Pierce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair. On the other, our President.
22. Love to see a mother and daughter uniting to destroy a bad man.
23. "If they're smart they're queer. If they're stupid, they're straight." Aunt Ida is a mood.
24. Going from hairdressing to the auto industry? We get it, Gater, you're straight.
25. "I'm going to find happiness within the auto inDUSTry." Even if Waters' brand of camp isn't for you, this film is a masterclass in truly wild line deliveries that is not to be missed.
26. The Dashers' obvious boner for child abuse is… something else.
27. Nothing like a jar of acid to settle a fight.
28. Dawn is truly a drag queen Frankenstein at this point.
29. "I sue and bruise easily." Mr. Dasher is a Draco Malfoy prototype.
30. The centering of found family and how there is more support than biological family is a lovely theme amongst all the stylized trash. There is something heartwarming about this insane group of degenerates' love for each other.
31. "Spare me your anatomy" is an ideal response to an unsolicited dick pic.
32. Waters really made an art form of the absurd. No one else revels in the grotesque quite like him.
33. Can't say that I blame her for stabbing that man to death.
34. I need to find out if Waters has ever done DVD commentary for this film [he has] because I want to know the reasoning behind the man losing his eyeball.
35. I feel like we're one step away from "eyeliner taken internally" as a hoax cure for COVID.
36. Now referring to influencers as "beauty czars" moving forward.
37. Aunt. Ida's. Hook.
38. You know things are dire when the Hari Krishna look like a better option.
39. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone do a descent into madness quite like Divine. MESMERIZING.
40. Yikes, a mass shooting in a theater hasn't aged well.
41.I can't decide whether or not I want a spinoff trilogy about Aunt Ida or if she was perfectly deployed as a side character.
42. Donna Dasher's betrayal of Dawn and adherence to the status quo is a huge bummer. But not unexpected. The woman is basically the camp Serena Joy.
43. I used to think that Carl Weathers in Predator had the most over-the-top death scene ever. I have since amended that view.