Divine Trash

Divine Trash (1998)

Sub-Genres - Biography  |   Release Date - Jan 18, 1998 (USA - Unknown), Jan 18, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

John Waters is such an endlessly entertaining interview subject that it would be hard to make a bad documentary about him as long as the filmmaker himself agreed to participate. Luckily, Divine Trash director Steve Yeager had extensive access to not only Waters himself, but also his expansive archives, resulting in a documentary that's as informative as it is amusing. It says a lot about Waters' self-confidence that he shot making-of footage during the shoestring-budget production of Pink Flamingos even though his career until that point had consisted mostly of movie screenings in church basements and bingo halls. Yet history has vindicated the cockiness of the 25-year-old hipster in dark shades whom the viewer sees subtly mocking a square interviewing him for television. Divine Trash does not, however, completely fawn over its subject, nor does it focus exclusively on Waters himself. Plenty of screen time is devoted to the outrageous performers (Divine, Mink Stole, David Lochary) and offbeat collaborators (makeup artist Van Smith) who helped the director realize his vile visions. And several of the interview subjects -- most notably Mary Avara, the hilariously tongue-tied "last film censor in America" -- profess something less than total admiration for the director's work. A wider look at Waters' earliest experiments and more scenes from the obscure features that have never received proper distribution would have transformed Divine Trash from an engaging overview into an indispensable document. As is, the film provides a thorough introduction for casual enthusiasts and hardcore fans who want to learn more than they can from the films themselves.