For connoisseurs of the criminally insane and devotees of the sick and deranged, the holiday season truly brings out the best in people. Aside from intimate family moments -- the turkey flying through the living room window, the gift-wrapped suitcase accompanied by a card that reads "Pack it," the lecherous uncle with more than rum on his breath -- there are macabre tidbits that make the national news, such as the middle-aged man in the small town of Malden, Mass., who executed seven people in his accounting department last year because his paychecks weren't exactly what he'd expected. Then there's the story of the woman who hurled her mother's head onto the steps of the New Jersey Statehouse during her office Christmas party in 1978. And who can forget the brutal rape and murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey on Christmas Eve of 1996? Of course, such seasonal tales of gore are just grist for the sadistic comic genius of John Waters.
Early in his career as a filmmaker, the "Sultan of Sleaze" wasted no time in putting his holiday well-wishes on celluloid. While Waters' 1975 flick Female Trouble does not indulge in the gut-wrenching coprophagy of Pink Flamingos, it does offer a lovely and timeless Christmas morning massacre. In the movie, Dawn Davenport -- a cocky and corpulent juvenile delinquent played by Divine in a chartreuse baby-doll nightie -- is more than a little bent out of shape when she receives saddle oxfords instead of cha-cha heels. Expressing one of film history's more poignant holiday sentiments, Dawn screams, "Fuck you, fuck you both! I hate you and I hate CHRISTMAS!" and then proceeds to crush her parents underneath a yuletide tree while her mother whimpers, "Not on Christmas, not on Christmas." Dawn goes on to a life of teen pregnancy and crime that includes writhing in a bath of raw fish, jumping on a trampoline, beating her daughter (played by Mink Stole), and butchering losers in the name of outer beauty and lowbrow comedy. This is still one of Waters' funniest films, sure to make you believe that nothing says Christmas like an electric chair. A brand-new 35mm print of Female Trouble with remastered sound and restored footage will be shown Tuesday through Tuesday, Dec. 25-Jan. 1, at the Castro Theater (429 Castro at Market) at 2, 4:30, 7, and 9:20 p.m. Tickets are $8 ($5 for 2 p.m. matinees); call 621-6120.