Multiple Maniacs Review - AVClub

AVClub: There’s something faintly perverse about the idea of John Waters’ early work being painstakingly restored, especially by the highbrow gatekeepers at Janus Films/Criterion. Audiences originally saw these films in cruddy conditions, on the underground/midnight circuit, and that continued to be the case for decades afterward. Even in the ’90s, seeing Multiple Maniacs (1970)—Waters’ second feature, following the nearly dialogue-free Mondo Trasho—often involved an ancient, beat-up 16mm print projected on a basement wall, which felt absolutely right. Transgression is at the heart of Waters’ ethos; his earliest films, in particular, derive much of their power from the feeling that you’re seeing something you’re not supposed to, as if the movie had somehow escaped keepers who had been entrusted with preventing it from contaminating impressionable minds. All the same, so few people have seen Maniacs (which was only ever issued on VHS) that its theatrical rerelease, while inappropriately respectable, is still a welcome sight.

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