Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Female Trouble (1974)

By John Baggett
PSDC Movie Dude

Note: I kinda spoil this movie, but I don’t think it’ll diminish your enjoyment of the film at all.

In December, NBC will be airing a live production of the musical, Hairspray, following the recent successes of Grease Live and The Wiz. I’m actually excited about the production, as I’m a big fan of the show (and I’m not just saying that because a friend of mine co-directed a production of it last summer). What does this have to do with anything? Well, the connection is that the play was based on a 1988 film of the same name from writer/director, John Waters. And to this day, it remains the only one of his films you could comfortably watch with your family. (Maybe, Serial Mom too.)

Waters would laugh about the success of his film, saying he could imagine a family saying, “We loved Hairspray! Let’s rent another John Waters film!” Only for them to be immediately horrified by what they might see. Waters is often named the Pope of Trash or the Prince of Puke, a man whose career began as a guerilla hippie filmmaker in Baltimore in the 1960s that led to him being one of the kings of the midnight movie in the 1970s, before he went legit(ish) in the 80s. He rose to infamy with his 1972 film, Pink Flamingos, which made him a cult figure and his company of actors, named Dreamlanders, stars (sort of), especially the 300 pound drag queen tour de force known as Divine. Pink Flamingos may be the more obvious choice to cover, but I’m not going down the easy path. This week I’m examining the Flamingos follow up, the 1974 comedy, Female Trouble.


Female Trouble is the story of Dawn Davenport (Divine), as told in various stages of her life. We first meet her as a troubled teen in 1960 that is more interested in getting cha-cha heels for Christmas then she is her schoolwork. She and her two best friends, Concetta (Cookie Mueller) and Chicklette (Susan Walsh) cut class, threaten other students, and would rather be expelled than be in school for another female. Besides, Dawn doesn’t need school, she’s gonna be famous one day.

On Christmas morning, after her parents don’t get her the cha-cha heels she asked for, Dawn attacks her parents, pinning her mother under the Christmas tree, and running away from home. After leaving home, she hitches a ride with a man named Earl Peterson (also played by Divine), who takes her to the city dump for some sexy time. Naturally, said sexy time leads to Dawn getting pregnant and Earl refuses to help, telling her to go fuck herself.

Dawn ends up being a pretty terrible mother, unable to control her daughter Taffy (played as a child by Hilary Taylor and as a adolescent/teenager by Mink Stole). Dawn’s idea of discipline includes chaining Taffy to her bed and beating her with a car aerial. She confides in her friends Concetta and Chicklette that she doesn’t know how to control Taffy, even though she is not setting a good example, byu harboring her two friends every time they go out stealing.

Dawn’s life makes a change for the better when she ends up in the Les Lipstick Salon, run by beauty experts Donald (David Lochary) and Donna Dasher (Mary Vivian Pearce). She impresses the Dashers, who allow her to become their new customer and she even catches the eye of Gater (Michael Potter), a hairdresser who lives with his aunt Ida (Edith Massey). Ida refuses to accept that Gater is straight and continues to try and set him up with nice young men. But, Gater has eyes for Dawn and the two soon marry.

Wedded life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for Dawn, as she and Gater are having some problems in the bedroom. The two split, but with the Dashers helping Dawn rise to fame, they help her make Gater’s life rough, even firing him. Dawn becomes a sensation, even after a violent attack by Ida, who throws acid in her face, and becomes a superstar that mixes murder with beauty and art. This career move helps lead her to the biggest achievement in her career – the electric chair.

Now, part of the reason that I picked this film over Pink Flamingos is that I think it’s a better movie. I don’t dislike Pink Flamingos, in fact I might cover it and the other entry in Waters’ “Trash Trilogy,” Desperate Living, at later dates. I just feel like if it didn’t end in Divine eating dog shit, I don’t know how well remembered the movie might be. Female Trouble shows Waters getting better as a writer and a director. It has all of the trashiness of Flamingos but with a slightly more cohesive story.

Even John Waters has called it his favorite of his early films. In the commentary, he described it as a vehicle for Divine and it really shows. He (and I use that pronoun as Divine was a drag queen, not transgender) was always a performer that gave his all and after his passing, Waters’ films never really felt the same.

Female Trouble is the kind of anarchic filmmaking that we don’t see very often these days. It’s 42 years old now but still packs as much of a punch as I’m sure it did back then. If you’ve never seen a Waters film, I definitely think you should start with Pink Flamingos, but this also isn’t a bad place to start. It’s funnier, more shocking, and more in your face than the “raunchy comedies” coming out today. It’s a brash slice of cinema that was everything it ever set out to be.

Now, where are my goddamn cha-cha heels?

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

By John Baggett
PSDC Movie Dude

It’s been a really long time since I’ve written a Monday Night Movie article and after a long absence I decided it was time to resurrect this series. If you don’t remember this series, sometimes I would write about a really good new movie that was off the radar, or something personal to me, or sometimes it was something just ridiculous and stupid. For this triumphant return, I’ve clearly chosen the latter.

So, what do you get when you combine a director’s chair, an incredibly coked up Stephen King, and a shitload of AC/DC? You get Maximum Overdrive!


The movie opens in OUTER SPACE (just imagine I did that in an epic, echoey voice). We get an exposition dump that the Earth has passed through the tail of a comet. The tail of said comet gives off plot energy that causes things to come alive, like vehicles, vending machines, lawn mowers, electric knives. The story takes place in somehow not Castle Rock, Maine, but rather in Wilmington, North Carolina. We see inanimate objects come to life, including an ATM which calls the man using it, played by Stephen King, an asshole, which is something critics would do to him after this movie opened.

Most of the action of the film takes place at a truck stop run by Commissioner Gordon…I mean, Bubba Hendershot (Pat Hingle). Hendershot is laying out his demands for his new short order cook, Bill (Emilio Estevez), a college educated recent parolee in need of employment, that he is to work nine hours but only clock in for eight. When Bill protests, Bubba reminds him that since he is on parole, he owns Bill’s ass and if he doesn’t bend to his will, he can try to send him back in dutch with the state of North Carolina.

In other parts of town, things are a real horror show. A baseball game becomes deadly thanks to a soda machine turning into a cannon, killing the coach of one of the teams, and maintenance equipment starts running down other players. Luckily, young Deke Keller (Holter Graham), is able to get out alive and as he bicycles through his neighborhood, seemingly stalked by a blood covered lawnmower and a driverless ice cream truck, he decides to head to the truck stop where his dad, Duncan (J.C. Quinn), works.

 The truck stop horror begins after Happy Toys driver Handy (Frankie Faison) brings his shiny rig, complete with a giant Green Goblin face on the front of his truck, comes in. Handy exits the truck with the keys, but it doesn’t stop the truck, and the others around him, coming to life. In the kitchen, high-strung Wanda June (Ellen McElduff) is attacked by an electric knife that springs to life and slices her arm. Bill bashes it to death with a hammer, but the nightmare is about to get much worse.

The rest of our assorted cast of characters includes bad girl drifter (driftress?) Brett (Laura Harrington), who will naturally serve as the love interest for Bill. There is pervy bible salesman Loman (Christopher Murney), mechanic Brad (Leon Rippy), and recently married couple Curtis (John Short) and Connie (Yeardley Smith), who barely make it alive after nearly being killed by a series of vehicles on the road and in there parking lot. They must all band together to stay alive, but surprisingly not everyone is cooperative. Thankfully, Bubba has a basement full of secrets that will help the humans take down the machines and remind them who made who.

Maximum Overdrive, based on the story “Trucks,” is the only film that one Mr. Stephen King, author extraordinaire, has helmed as director. Which is pretty surprising considering it’s not the worst directed film I’ve ever seen. In fact, in terms of King adaptations, it’s on the upper middle scale of films based on his material. It’s not the only film he’s been involved with, he has written the screenplay for quite a few adaptations and most of them were painful to sit through. King is a great storyteller, but an awful screenwriter. (Watch Storm of the Century if you don’t believe me.)

The film was somehow not well received when it was released in 1986, receiving two Razzie nominations for Worst Actor – Emilio Estevez (not deserved) and Worst Director – Stephen King (probably deserved). The Razzies actually ended up both going to Prince for his performance and direction in the film Under the Cherry Moon. King admitted years later that he was “coked out of his mind” and had no clue what he was doing. King also earned an $18 million lawsuit against him from director of photography Armando Nannuzzi following an on set accident that resulted in the loss of his eye. Between the on set accidents (plural), King’s lack of skill and raging coke habit, and both audiences and critics destroying the film, bringing in a total of $7.4 million against a $9 million production budget, King vowed to never direct another film.

Despite being a coked up maniac on set, I think that time has been kinder to this film. If being on coke made you a bad director, Martin Scorsese wouldn’t have made a single memorable film after Mean Streets. Now, I’m not saying King made some kind of masterpiece here. No, not at all. He rightfully deserves all of the damning that he received from audiences, critics, and, ultimately, himself. Yet, I also think there is quite a bit of charm to this blunderfuck of a movie.

Yes, it’s poorly written. Yes, it’s goofy as shit. And yes, it couldn’t be more dated if it tried. But, it’s also fun as hell. It’s a movie about fucking 18 wheelers that came to life and try to run over Emilio Estevez to an all AC/DC soundtrack. It’s 96 minutes of stupid, but it’s a stupid that almost seems gloriously self aware. Sometimes a bad movie knows it’s a bad movie, so it revels in its idiocy, thus no longer making it an actual bad movie. The Room is a bad movie because it does everything wrong and refuses to acknowledge it. Maximum Overdrive is a movie about giant trucks that come to life and go on a murder spree. Honestly, I could sit there and nitpick the movie for its flaws, but at the end of the day, I would be the asshole because this thing was never trying to be art. It was the height of big, dumb, loud movies and they don’t get much bigger, dumber, and louder than this one.

In a way, I hate that this film was such a bust and King never made another film. I think once he sobered up and with another two or three trials, he could have made something brilliant. Or, we could just sit back and remember that this is the man that prefers the movie version of The Shining that he wrote starring the guy from Wings over the version that Kubrick made that pretty much mangled the book, but was the greater cinematic nightmare. Yeah, he probably made the right call.

Maximum Overdrive is an objectively bad movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching and not a shitload of fun. I laughed from start to finish and had a big dumb smile on my face when it was over. Sometimes we need films like this in our lives. I know I do. I mean, I thought Spotlight was a fantastic, nearly flawless film, but I don’t want to watch it on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s too heavy. That is the time for movies like this. If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it in a while, I urge you to get on the highway to hell with Stephen King and the well behaved Estevez brother and take a 90 mph drive towards joy.

Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

Follow John on Twitter – @TrapperJohn1210

Hey Facebook! Turn The Project Page Back On!

By Chris Stuckey and Reid Kerr
Currently Locked-Out PSDC Founder/Writer

Hey Facebook, we appreciate your attention to detail and security and changing your settings every fifteen minutes to keep Reid’s parents confused, but please turn the Project Facebook page back on.

Chris Stuckey is the owner and founder of Project (or PSDC, as the cool kids call it). Reid Kerr is the head writer and web designer for PSDC. Both were admins on the page, and are fully authorized to post on it, about it, and any other preposition you’d like to throw in there.

Chris Stuckey also runs the official PSDC Twitter page, which you can see here. Would it help if we posted about this matter over there too?

Right now, with no warning whatsoever, you’ve unpublished the PSDC page on Facebook and locked Chris and Reid out of their accounts, demanding they change the title of the page before you’ll let them log in again.

But here’s the cruel part, Facebook. When they try, they get an error. They can’t even log in to tell you you’re doing the exact opposite of the right thing because you won’t let them.

Please, Facebook. Reinstate the page and let our people go.

(UPDATE: As of Thursday night, Chris and Reid were back on Facebook, but the Project page was not.)

Reid’s NFL Mailbag: Deflategate, Cowboys, and Vegas, Baby

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

It’s kind of a dead time in the NFL. The draft and free agency are over, rookies are signing their contracts and mini camps are underway, and since players now have things to do, they won’t be getting arrested any more. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and we didn’t even have the usual “bad news dump” on Friday where the NFL announces all the awful stories they hope no one notices like suspensions, fines, and anything having to do with Buffalo.

Time to catch up on current events with another edition of Reid’s Mailbag.

Q: Did Dallas help themselves in the draft?
A: Absolutely! And yet, not at all. Ezekiel Elliott is a stud, and if he lasts past the first round of your fantasy draft, you’re playing with idiots. But is he that much better than anyone else the Cowboys could have put behind that all-star offensive line? Is giving up a first-round pick you could have used on pass rush worth it to get a great running back? Or could the Cowboys get close to the same results with Matt Bellner in their backfield, running with me on his shoulders? Only time will tell, and that “time” is the amount of time opposing quarterbacks have to throw against the Cowboys.

Dallas is in an interesting position, they’ve got about a three-year window with Romo as their quarterback. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. I shouldn’t have to remind you how bad the post-Aikman, pre-Romo era was for Dallas, so I’ll just say “Hey, remember that year Dallas started a quarterback whose name rhymed with ‘Ryan Schleaf?’”

Can the current crop of Cowboys provide enough talent to take advantage of having a top-flight quarterback in that time span? Maybe, but I need to see some pass rush before I’d favor them over the Panthers, Seahawks, or Packers.

Q: What’s going to happen with #Deflate…
A: Oh, please no.
A: Well, the legal case that refuses to die rolls onward. Right now the NFL has won the last case, which means Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of this coming season. Brady has appealed, and his counsel made a very good point about the NFL only fining players for other equipment violations such as using Stickum, so this one could still go on for a while. Possibly years. Maybe decades.

At this point, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind on this case. Originally, I thought Brady was cheating and Goodell’s punishment was just. After reading through all the case work, I still think Brady was cheating, but four games is unprecedented, especially when the NFL has done an awful job of proving anything was done wrong. When it’s all over, this will be a very odd footnote in both Brady’s Hall of Fame career, and the story of the mid-2010’s NFL.

Q: What about Las Vegas?
A: Sounds great! Let me grab my go-bag, and let’s go hit the blackjack table. I’ve got a new scheme I learned from a guy in an airport bathroom. I can’t lose!
Q: No, I was talking about an NFL team there.
A: Oh. Well, that’s something else. The fact that the NFL is actually even discussing the possibility of putting a team in Las Vegas is amazing. For decades, pro sports have rejected any connection to gambling, even while playing to gamblers with things like mandatory injury reports.

Remember Tony Romo’s Fantasy Football Convention last summer in Vegas? Of course not, because the NFL killed it. It’ll be in Pasadena this year in mid-July, and I’ll be there.

In 2016, protecting the NFL from gambling seems to be a dead issue, or at least one they’ll revisit. If the Raiders don’t get a new stadium, they’ll try and bolt to Vegas, and I’d put even money they’d be successful in doing so. The NFL seems to be putting the thought of a new market over the old concerns about associating with the gambling industry.

Of course, now you don’t have to go to Vegas to lose money betting on sports. You can do it from your home. You can lose big money on fantasy football for a season, or lose it week-to-week playing Fanduel and Draft Kings. ESPN is now openly talking about point spreads. The NFL can’t just pretend it doesn’t happen, especially since it drives a significant portion of their fan interest.

And by “significant portion,” I mean me, and this column, and my retirement account. Which thanks to my long careers in television and radio, will allow me to live in comfort for the rest of my years, as long as I get hit by a bus no later than the weekend after I retire.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s novel “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available from You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

Reid’s Week Twelve NFL Picks: The Romo Problem

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

The old saying goes that every fighter has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

It’s credited in some places to Mike Tyson, but I doubt Iron Mike was as original and quotable as we like to pretend these days, so we’ll just call it an “old saying.”

We all saw round two of that proverbial punch to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Tony Romo was the plan for Dallas, and now with the collarbone injury, the Cowboys have to fall back on Plan B, which is actually Plan C at this point. Plan D is next year’s draft, for those of you who doubt this season has a happy ending.

I’ve defended Jerry Jones before. I’ve long said I don’t think he gets enough credit for some things, but stocking this roster is not one of them. In the NFL, you don’t just build a championship team with stars, you assemble quality players all over the roster. Seattle won with a defense full of play-makers. New England’s biggest play of the Super Bowl came from a well-coached unsigned free agent.

The Cowboys have several stars who sell a lot of jerseys, but Dallas went into the season content with a backup quarterback who was a thirty-year-old minor league pitcher with a quarterback rating right around room temperature, and this season is doomed. Dumping him for a guy who couldn’t win the starting job in Buffalo is a minor upgrade, perhaps, but still not exactly a switch that’s going to set FanDuel on fire.

Good teams draft young quarterbacks before they need one so they can evaluate them without having to burn a season playing them. Since Troy Aikman was dragged off the field for the final time in 2000, the Cowboys have drafted two quarterbacks. Can you name them?

And if you can, why? Why would you want to name them, dear reader?

In 2001 they blew a second-round pick on Quincy Carter. Stephen McGee came in the fourth round of 2009.

That’s it.

Quarterback is the most important position in team sports, and the Cowboys have drafted as many kickers as QB’s in the last fifteen years.

Let’s put that in perspective. Since the Patriots took Tom Brady in 2000, they’ve drafted seven more quarterbacks. That’s seven young talented players who have a chance to turn into something, whether it’s a current Cowboys backup, Texas Tech’s head coach, or a guy who’s missed enough alarm clocks to sleep his way out of the league.

Despite what some of you would yell at me when you called my radio show, Tony Romo’s been an unquestioned starter in the NFL for a decade. In that time, Dallas hasn’t made a move to provide him with a backup that wasn’t already washed up. Having Brad Johnson or Jon Kitna in the locker room is great if you want to talk about bands from the 80’s, but as quarterbacks, their time was done.

Matt Cassel isn’t a starting quarterback in the league anymore, and Brandon Weeden never was, but those were the emergency plans the Cowboys made. We’ll see how that goes with Cassel over the next five weeks.

On to the picks. On Thanksgiving, I went 2-1 because just like Philadelphia’s management, I overestimated Chip Kelly’s ability to field a team. I’m 42-29-2 on the year, still in the positive money, and still with no idea what I’m doing.

Here’s my picks for week twelve. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

New Orleans (+3) at Houston – Rob Ryan’s business cards say “Rob Ryan, Defensive Coordinator & Scapegoat.”
Pick: Texans

San Diego (+4.5) at Jacksonville – The Jags got two wins in five days. Last season it took them six weeks to do that.
Pick: Jaguars

NY Giants (-3) at Washington – A team from this game will make the playoffs, which is about as fair as letting one of the actors from “Dumb and Dumber To” win an Oscar.
Pick: Giants

Minnesota (+1) at Atlanta – Minnesota Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner is running the same game plan as the 2003 Palestine Wildcats. It’s all Adrian Peterson, all the time.
Pick: Vikings

New England (-3) at Denver – Trust me, in ten years we won’t remember this season for Peyton Manning at all. It’ll be just like the last Vikings season for Bret Favre, Joe Montana with the Chiefs, or Sean Connery in “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”
Pick: Patriots

Baltimore (-3) at Cleveland – Joe Flacco shreds his knee and finishes the game. Johnny Manziel somehow loses his starting job in a bye week.
Pick: Browns

I’ll also take a sunny day in the park over Black Friday, flying home for Christmas over driving, and gift cards over cash.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s novel “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available on Biting Dog Press from You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

Reid’s Week Five NFL Picks: Pressing the “Like” Button

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

It seems like every week Facebook rolls out some new invention designed to rob us of more of our spare time and empathy.

By the way, yes, this is still a sports column. Trust me, I’m going somewhere.

The latest rumored possibility for Facebook is a set of new buttons, including the long-detested “Dislike” button which will allow all of us to be even more annoying on the internet. With that in mind, here’s my personal “likes” and “dislikes” so far, through the first quarter of the NFL season. [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: The Green Inferno (2013)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: The Green Inferno (2013)

Rating: *** (out of 5)

There is a trend in every subgenre of horror films – make one great one (or a handful of them), let the imitators roll in until the fad dies, and then the tribute films can roll in years later to possibly start the cycle over. We’ve seen it in slasher films, vampire films, and, as of late, zombie films. The zombie trend is particularly painful for a lot of horror fans because that was where we went for something truly gory and disturbing. Now we have teenage zombie rom coms. Thanks for ruining that, “The Walking Dead.” [Read more…]

Reid’s Week Four NFL Picks: Eighteen Is Not Enough

By Reid Kerr
Project Shanks Offensive Coordinator

I love football. Anyone who reads this column space can tell that, and identify the amount of love as “to an alarming degree.” I love it more than my wife is comfortable with, although my bookie is totally fine with it.

With the body of work I have as a football-watching human potato, there are certain things I can just take a look at and make a snap decision on. For example, there is no longer any degree of certainty between draft position and the success of a quarterback. Every-down running backs are the unicorns of the NFL. Teams that run the ball and play defense up front win games in the playoffs. [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: The Late Shift (1996)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: The Late Shift (1996)

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Every now and then I look back at some of the films that shaped my adolescence and realize I’m not normal. Case in point, one of my favorite films from my mid-teenage years was an HBO TV movie about the war between David Letterman and Jay Leno for The Tonight Show, which is something that impressed all the ladies, let me tell you. And since we are now entering a Letterman and Leno free late night TV era, let’s jump in the way back machine and take a look at the 1996 film, The Late Shift. [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Chef (2014)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Chef (2014)

Rating: **** 1/2 (out of 5)

The Monday Night Movie is back after a long, mostly unplanned hiatus, but things have calmed down in life for me to get back to this column. And since it is Labor Day, I could have totally done something on the nose, like review Jason Reitman’s film Labor Day, but that would be totes obvious, as the kids might say. (Don’t worry. I hate me for that sentence too.) And because I also can’t think of any Labor Day themed horror movies (because doing a Google search was out of the question), I am doing what I usually do every week – picking something completely at random! This week I am taking a look at the 2014 comedy from writer/director/actor Jon Favreau, Chef. [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Would You Rather (2013)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Would You Rather (2012)

Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

We’ve all played the game, Would You Rather, where you are given two awful situations to pick from, usually saying that you can’t pass or say “neither.” For example, would you rather smash your thumb with a hammer at full strength or slice your peephole with a large papercut? (Well, the obvious answer is the hammer. I write about movies online. How much strength do I actually have?) [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

This review spoils the entire movie, but this movie is 16 years old.

On March 1, 1999 legendary filmmaker held a screening for his fourteenth feature film, Eyes Wide Shut, for its stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, along with executives at Warner Bros. Kubrick had declared it the best film he ever made, the result of an over 400 day production, requiring some key roles to be recast and holding Cruise and Kidman in London for the entirety of the shoot. Six days after the screening, Kubrick died of a heart attack at the age of 70. [Read more…]