Somehow, John Waters made the career switch of being infamous to being famous without losing any of his devoted cult audience. And while this movie wasn’t the hit that Hairspray was, to me, it’s closer to the spirit of what I love from his films.
Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker (Johnny Depp) leads a gang that includes his sister Pepper (Ricki Lake), Mona “Hatchet Face” Malnororwski (Kim McGuire), her man Milton (Darren E. Burrows) and Wanda Woodward (Traci Lords, a vision as always). Cry-Baby is able to cry one single tear while he sings, which drives the girls insane. He’s fallen for one of the squares, Allison (Amy Locane) and he’s ready to take on the world to prove his love.
Cry-Baby and Allison are both orphans. Her parents took seperate flights all the time just in case something happened. Well, it did. Both their plans crashed. Cry-Baby’s dad was the Alphabet Bomber and even thought our hero’s mother tried to stop him, they both went to the chair.
Polly Bergin (who my mother-in-law sold turtle oil for, a story which I really need to hear more about) plays Allison’s grandmother, while Cry-Baby’s guardians are played by Susan Tyrrell and Iggy Pop, which sounds like the perfect parental units.
This rockabilly Romeo and Juliet romance is enlivened by the casting that only Waters can get away with, finding roles for Troy Donahue, Mink Stole, Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, David Nelson and Patty Hearst.
While this was being filmed, Traci Lords was being investigated by the FBI. The cast and crew hid her and when she’d get upset, tell them all about the times they’d be in trouble with the law. That warms my heart.