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Film

John Waters once revealed his favourite films from the 1970s

John Waters has always embraced the title of ‘Pope of Trash’, known for his unique body of work which contains unforgettably transgressive masterpieces such as Multiple Maniacs and Female Trouble. Incorporating postmodern concerns and a surreal vision, Waters is undoubtedly among the greatest American comedians of all time.

While Waters hasn’t made a film since the 2000s, his early cinematic gems are revisited by younger generations of cinephiles who fall in love with the director’s subversive view of the world. Even though his most iconic work Pink Flamingos turned 50 this year, it still seems more fresh and incisive than many contemporary comedies.

The filmmaker also agrees with this statement since he has previously said that most younger directors are no longer taking artistic risks in their projects. “[Pink Flamingos] still works,” Waters reflected in an interview. “It is still alarming, and confusing in a way, and frightening almost. But joyous, I think, in the long run.”

Even though he hasn’t returned to the director’s chair, Waters has explored other artistic avenues. This year, Waters released his first novel titled Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance and it imagines a universe that is just as crazy as Waters’ films – featuring violent sexual deviants and a central character who steals suitcases at the airport to make a living.

“I just wanted to try something I hadn’t done,” Waters explained while talking about this unexpected decision. “Same reason I took LSD when I was 70. The same reason I hitchhiked across America when I was 66. Why not try to write your first novel in your mid-70s? I want to keep trying new things. Dare yourself.”

Waters has talked about his favourite films on multiple occasions but the ’70s were actually very important for his development as a filmmaker and a boundary-pushing artist. During that time, Waters made his infamous Trash Trilogy which is often cited as one of the greatest achievements of his fascinating career.

Check out the full list below.

John Waters’ favourite 1970s films:

  • Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Russ Meyer, 1970)
  • Gods of the Plague (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1970)
  • The American Soldier (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1970)
  • The Honeymoon Killers (Leonard Kastle, 1970)
  • The Wizard of Gore (Herschell Gordon Lewis, `1970)
  • Trash (Paul Morrissey, 1970)
  • Trog (Freddie Francis, 1970)
  • Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970)
  • Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1970)
  • Beware of a Holy Whore (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1970)
  • Duel (Steven Spielberg, 1971)
  • Pink Narcissus (James Bidgood, 1971)
  • Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah, 1971)
  • The Big Doll House (Jack Hill, 1971)
  • The Corpse Grinders (Ted V. Mikels, 1971)
  • The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
  • Whity (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1971)
  • Fat City (John Huston, 1972)
  • The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972)
  • The Gore Gore Girls (Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1972)
  • The Merchant of Four Seasons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972)
  • Silent Night, Bloody Night (Theodore Gershuny, 1972)
  • The Poseidon Adventure (Ronald Neame, 1972)
  • Fleshpot on 42nd Street (Andy Milligan, 1973)
  • The Mother and the Whore (Jean Eustache, 1973)
  • Abby (William Girdler, 1974)
  • Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974)
  • Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)
  • Caged Heat (Jonathan Demme, 1974)
  • Lancelot du Lac (Robert Bresson, 1974)
  • The Sugarland Express (Steven Spielberg, 1974)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
  • Wedding Trough (Thierry Zéno, 1974)
  • Fox and his Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1975)
  • India Song (Marguerite Duras, 1975)
  • Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
  • Mandingo (Richard Fleischer, 1975)
  • Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1975)
  • Salō, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975)
  • Supervixens (Russ Meyer, 1975)
  • The Naked Civil Servant (Jack Gold, 1975)
  • The Story of Adele H. (François Truffaut, 1975)
  • Chinese Roulette (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1976)
  • My Friends Need Killing (Paul Leder, 1976)
  • The Tenant (Roman Polanski, 1976)
  • Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
  • Fight For Your Life (Robert A. Endelson, 1977)
  • The Serpent’s Egg (Ingmar Bergman, 1977)
  • The Truck (Marguerite Duras, 1977)
  • Grease (Randal Kleiser, 1978)
  • Ice Castles (Donald Wrye, 1978)
  • In A Year With 13 Moons (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1978)
  • Interiors (Woody Allen, 1978)
  • Jubilee (Derek Jarman, 1978)
  • The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1978)
  • Ashanti (Richard Fleischer, 1979)
  • Wise Blood (John Huston, 1979)
  • The Concorde… Airport ’79 (David Lowell Rich, 1979)
  • The Third Generation (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979)

One look at this list is enough to confirm just how eclectic Waters’ cinematic taste is. It features the likes of Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen, Derek Jarman, Steven Spielberg and many other popular filmmakers whose works are listed alongside lesser-known cult films.

The works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder are also a recurring mention throughout this selection of masterpieces. Waters is a huge fan of the German auteur’s entire filmography and even claimed that watching his films was “better than drugs, liquor and sex put together.”

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