Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea

"Excellent"

Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea Review


To say the Salton Sea is obscure is an understatement. My wife was born and raised in San Diego, two hours from the Salton Sea and had never even heard of it.

The Salton Sea is a complicated ecological mess that most Californians would prefer to forget about. This enchanting documentary tells the full story of the place. It begins thanks to pioneering, turn-of-the-1900s entrepreneurs who diverted the Colorado River into the SoCal desert, filling in a giant lake. Soon it's the "other" Palm Springs, with legendarily good fishing, and plenty of resort activities like swimming, skiing, and getting drunk. But the water was sustained in the Sea by runoff from nearby farms, which led to the salinity increasing out of control. The lake became so salty (saltier than the ocean) that it could kill fish, which led to an incredible stench, dead birds, botulism, and the utter collapse of the area's economy. It didn't help that flooding put most of the coastal buildings and streets underwater, permanently.

But Salton is still there, as are stragglers who hang on to their trailer homes and dive diners, attracted by the ultra-cheap land ($400 a lot in some places), despite the lack of any sort of greenery and the omnipresent smell of dead animals.

The documentary balances the history of the sea with a look at its potential resurgence, something all the locals would love to see but which seems increasingly unlikely. And naturally, the kind of people who remain in Salton are just what you'd expect: Eccentric and strange, whether they be a nudist waving at passersby or the unofficial "mayor" of Salton City, a Hungarian immigrant known as Hunky Daddy with a fondness for beer.

Directors Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer imbue this touching and abbreviated documentary with some somber warnings about how destroying the Sea -- even though it's entirely man-made -- could be a catastrophe, but John Waters' blowsy narration ultimately keeps things on a lighter, almost frivolous, note. I'm not sure how I feel about that: After all, we've seen movies about eccentrics before (Grey Gardens, Gates of Heaven), but few of them have much to do with anything that's actually important.

DVD extras include a commentary track, extra interviews and deleted scenes (skaters in Salton!), and other ephemera.



Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea

Facts and Figures

Run time: 74 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th February 2006

Distributed by: Tilapia Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 45 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer

Producer: Chris Metzler

Starring: as Narrator, as Himself, Norm Niver as Himself, Petre Melvin as Himself, Leonard Knight as Himself, Bobbie Todhunter as Herself, Steve Horvitz as Himself, Lechon Rainey as Herself, Paul Clement as Himself, Manny Diaz as Himself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.