Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hey, was Rob Zombie cribbing from John Waters?

The other night I re-watched, Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects on cable television. Rejects is the tale of a majorly dysfunctional family on the run from the law who cut a swath of mayhem along their way. The three main players are Otis (the psychotic hillbilly half son), Baby (the psychotic blond nymphomaniac half sister of Otis) and Captain Spaulding( the psychotic father figure to Baby and Otis, who wears a clown face for most of the film).

As I was watching this movie, it suddenly dawned on me where I'd seen three similar characters, in a similarly disturbing film; John Water's Pink Flamingos (which tells the tale of a majorly dysfunctional family who cut a swath of mayhem along the way). The three main players are Crackers (the chicken loving, psychotic hillbilly), Cotton (the psychotic blond nymphomaniac) and Babs Johnson (the psychotic mother figure to Crackers and Cotton, who wears clown-like make up for all of the film).

Divine as Babs Johnson - Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding: crazed parental figures with a penchant for blue eye-shadow, murder, and scenery chewing.

Danny Mills as Crackers - Bill Moseley as Otis: two wacko hillbillies with a thing for murder, mutilation and chicken.

Mary Vivian Pearce as Cotton - Sheri Moon as Baby: a couple of blond bimbos with odd sexual urges, a love of gun play and grating speaking voices.

The more I watched The Devil's Rejects, the more I kept thinking of Pink Flamingos. Both movies are presented in the most grotesque fashion and seemingly celebrate the fucked-up-protagonists as heroes. Both films make light of murder and celebrate heinous activities. Both movies have allusions to the Manson murders... and, most importantly, both are oddly compelling stories about family bonds (no matter how sleazy those bonds might be).

Of course, I doubt that Rob Zombie would ever admit that he borrowed from Waters; his film is much more bloody and plays like a 70's drive-in exploitation work, while Pink Flamingos is a low budget black comedy that was probably made for one reason only, to cause outrage! Still though, the similarities are there. I wonder if I'm the only one who has noticed this?

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