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Cecil B. Demented

Demented Forever! 

Year: 2000 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

There has been debate recently about the most distasteful moment committed to film. Many opt for the 'hair-gel' scene in There's Something About Mary, while others prefer Jimmy making love to his Mom's apple pie in American Pie. The outright winner, though, has to be a scene from John Waters' 1972 classic Pink Flamingos, where in one uncut take we see a dog lay a fresh turd before sleaze queen Divine eats it. And unlike the previous two examples there were no special effects at work.

So it seems only fitting that the man who has spent a career subverting Hollywood, eventually hitting the public consciousness at large with Hairspray, should make a film about a set of guerrilla filmmakers headed by the lunatic Cecil B. Demented (Dorff). Sick of the state of mainstream movies, they decide they need to make a film with a bona fide star and so kidnap Honey Whitlock (Griffith) a typically spoiled celebrity, who initially isn't particularly keen on the idea.

Her lack of enthusiasm isn't really surprising since her co-stars and crew include a porn star who wants to have sex with Cecil before going down in a hail of gunfire, a perpetually stoned leading man, a Satanist contemplating ritual suicide, and a film-lover who is rebelling against his parents' philistine cinematic philosophy. However, as Cecil's mission to destroy mainstream cinema continues Honey starts to warm to the offbeat approach to filmmaking.

Melanie Griffith is perfect as the high-priced but talentless performer, a role which takes some courage to accept, while Dorff enjoys channelling all his frenetic energy into a showboating performance as Cecil. Also making appearances are Waters regulars such as Ricki Lake - and you thought she was a straight laced talk show host - and Patricia Hearst, who had a similar thing happen to her in real life.

This film is a must for anyone who rants about the poor quality of Hollywood cinema, and includes sidesplitting parodies of Patch Adams - The Directors Cut and Forrest Gump 2. Just try not to take the idea too literally.

David Goody

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Screenings of this film:

2000/2001 Summer Term (35mm)