In a day and age where the term ‘pioneer’ is often loosely thrown around, there are very few, if any, who deserve the accolade more than John Waters. His early films were transgressive, awarding him a cult status and becoming the defining focus of the LGBT community in the 1970s. Multiple Maniacs, his second feature and first ‘talkie’, set the tone for Walter’s early work. It’s crass, crude and offensive whilst being staggeringly original.

Lady Divine (Divine) is the grande dame of The Cavalcade of Perversion, a free travelling exhibition of fetishes and perversions. At the end of the show, she appears and robs the audience at gunpoint. This suits her lover Mr David (David Lochary) until Divine gets bored and decides to murder the patrons. He takes a mistress (Mary Vivian Pearce) and plots to kill Divine. Divine is seduced by The Religious Whore (Mink Stole) and heads to Edith’s bar to shoot Mr David.

If you think you can no longer be shocked, then you’ve not seen Multiple Maniacs. Whilst it’s rough and ready in terms of the technical aspects and would have benefited from more judicious editing, the sheer audacity and originality of Water’s film is refreshing. The dialogue is acerbic and often delivered as a polemic, but this perfectly suits the material. Multiple Maniacs is the epitome of outsider film making. Trashy, shocking and crude it’s like nothing else you’ve seen before.

Special Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director John Waters, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • New audio commentary featuring Waters
  • New interviews with cast and crew members Pat Moran, Vincent Peranio, Mink Stole, Susan Lowe and George Figgs
  • Plus: An essay by critic Linda Yablonsky and more!

Multiple Maniacs is released on Blu-ray today by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as part of the Criterion Collection.