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Polyester, Directed by John Waters

New Line Cinema, May 29, 1981 (US)

Screenplay: John Waters

Starring: Divine, Tab Hunter, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Mary Garlington, Ken King, and David Samson

With a thick German accent, Dr. Quackenshaw introduces the Odorama cards and provides a scientific summary of his experiments.

Dr. Quackenshaw (Rick Breitenfeld): Some things in life just plain stink.

Next, an overhead shot of a Baltimore suburb. It is a lovely, quaint, little neighborhood. Nothing could possibly be wrong in a place like this. Speaking of “little,” we get the first glimpse of our heroine, Francine Fishpaw. She is standing in front of a mirror attempting to make herself … pretty. A dousing of perfume tops it off, before one final spray wafts towards the floor to cover up her stinky, smelly feet (Odorama cards becoming more threatening by the second).

Francine slithers over the plush wall-to-wall carpet and pulls something from under the bed. It’s a scale. She promptly gets on and tips it to the tune of 313 pounds. Oh, the horror! The horror! Oh, Francine!

She tries to shake it off by quickly kicking the damn thing back under the bed but the cries of an angry mob grab her by the, ahem, balls. She rushes to the window. They are marching in Francine’s front yard, carrying signs like, “SMUT NEIGHBORS GET OUT!!” and “WE HATE FILTH!”

As for the rest, of course it is impossible to approach the real thing, so we stop. There is just no way to recreate the hilarious comedic delivery of Divine demonstrating how limitless a downward spiral can be as Francine falls deeper into the pits of a despair that only John Waters could conceive to push this far. But we don’t need to recreate the wheel. We open a DVD drawer whenever we like, laughing at all the same lines or even a few new ones too.

Lu-Lu Fishpaw (Mary Garlington) speaking to her mother Francine: Mary him? Are you kidding? I’m getting an abortion and I cannnn’t wait!


Francine’s mom (Joni Ruth White), talking to Cuddles: Scrubbed out any interesting toilets today?


Francine Fishpaw (Divine): Mini-cam?! Oh Elmer please, please, please! I’ll never be able to show my face in church again! I’ll be ex-communicated because of you!

Elmer Fishpaw (David Samson): Stop that yammering and fix me a drink!

We sit back and and enjoy, watching with perverse delight as things get progressively worse. And worse. And far worse still. Oh, Francine!

Francine: I’m a good Christian woman!

Wait, you haven’t seen the film? Did I give away too much? Well, don’t get your panties all in a bunch. With John Waters at the helm, you know there is plenty more where this came from. You or Francine haven’t seen or smelled anything yet.