Cecil B. Demented Review

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Apallingly egotistical film star Honey Whitlock spends most of her time emotionally torturing her assistant, until she is kidnapped by cinematic terrorist Cecil B. Demented and his merry band of "Sprocket Holes". As they force her to make a "real film" -


With bad taste pretty much everywhere in mainstream movies these days, John Waters may be forgiven for feeling more than a tad ripped off. After all, this is the man who pretty much invented cinematic vileness as a legitimate art form, delivering, among other deviant delights, a gargantuan transvestite devouring dog excrement (Pink Flamingos, 1972), which quite frankly makes Road Trip and its 'prostate milking' look positively respectable. It's no surprise, then, that the target of his latest assault on decency should be directed at Hollywood itself. And while its walls may not take a Jericho-like tumble, there's a lot of fun to be had in watching The Pope of Trash's hysterical attack.

The film melds all the usual Waters ingredients: high campery, bitch-queen movie stars, surreal terrorism kidnap (always his favourite crime) and really bad hair. But this time, unlike the director's previous outing, Pecker (1999), there's a palpable anger to the gleefully grotesque gumbo.

Demented resembles a deranged Dogme director, not only shooting on the streets, but enlisting the help of porno and bad action movie fans when confronted by an enraged establishment. Cinemas showing 'Patch Adams: The Director's Cut' are trashed; the set of 'Forrest Gump II: Gumped Again' is bloodily disrupted, and all the while Whitlock (Griffith brilliantly sending up her 'difficult' rep) is seduced like some latter-day, celluloid Patty Hearst, with the Sprockets as the Symbionese Liberation Army, the film building to a quite literal orgy of sex and violence.

Cecil B. is unlikely to win Waters any new fans. It has all the flaws of his best work: pretty much inept technical direction; some acting which more than borders on ropey; and more than the occasional comedic longeur. As one character remarks, "I walk out of your movies even on airplanes". For Waters this would be the ultimate compliment. Though it's fair to say, with this he's totally blown his chances of directing Bicentennial Man II.

A return to vile form for the director after a slightly disappointing previous couple of movies, but probably for hardcore acolytes only.