After taking on the suburban melodrama, the message picture, and the rock ’n’ roll film, Waters tried his hand at making an old-fashioned sexploitation movie (the kind, he recalled, that “all the nuns told him he would go to hell” for watching). Tracey Ullman plays a frigid housewife who suffers a concussion that fills her with a sudden, extreme sexual appetite. Most of the movie’s characters—including a voracious sex-addicted mechanic (Johnny Knoxville) and a go-go dancer with breasts the size of life rafts (Selma Blair)—follow suit, each developing their own peculiar (and, according to Waters, entirely genuine) fetish. A Dirty Shame has the encyclopedic, freak-show flair of Waters’s earlier movies, coupled with the nostalgic tinge of his recent work—a fitting balance for the director’s last completed film to date.

Photos courtesy of Fine Line Features / The Kobal Collection / Bridges, James

  • Directed By John Waters
  • 2004
  • USA
  • 35mm
  • 89 minutes