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CECIL B. DEMENTED

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STARRING MELANIE GRIFFITH, STEPHEN DORFF, ALICIA WITT, RICKI LAKE, PATRICIA HEARST DIRECTED BY JOHN WATERS

BUZZ-O-METER 4

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? John Waters goes to the movies.

For dyed-in-the-Polyester fans of Waters, DeMented may seem something of a departure. ”It’s my action epic — Die Hard for the Hollywood impaired,” says the director, who named the film after himself — ”Cecil B. DeMented” is a nickname given to Waters by a journalist. Dorff stars as Cecil, who leads a band of ”cinema terrorists” in kidnapping a big-time Tinseltown starlet (Griffith) at her latest premiere and forcing her to star in their own underground film. And just in case you’re worried that Waters has gone too mainstream, he assures us that DeMented is ”the craziest film I’ve done in years.” Indeed, in the estimated $10 million production, the terrorists envision punishing the public for their poor attendance at a Pasolini film festival, the usual Waters suspects (like Lake and Hearst) make their appearances, and Witt, playing an ex-porn star, has an intimate scene with, as Waters puts it, ”a little furry creature.” Despite the on-screen mayhem, says Dorff, the two-month shoot ”was a lot less zany than I thought it’d be. John’s very old-fashioned Hollywood; drives to the set dressed in those suits, the Teamsters park his car, and everything is two takes.” (Aug. 11)