Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea

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Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea
Plagues and pleasures poster.jpg
Directed byChris Metzler
Jeff Springer
Narrated byJohn Waters
Music byFriends of Dean Martinez
Distributed byTilapia Film
New Video/Docurama
Release date
  • January 12, 2004 (2004-01-12) (Slamdance Film Festival)
  • February 24, 2006 (2006-02-24) (United States)
Running time
73 minutes
CountryUnited States

Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea is a documentary film by Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer, with narration by John Waters and music by Friends of Dean Martinez.[1]

This offbeat and often humorous documentary tells the story of the accidental lake and environmental catastrophe known as the Salton Sea, located in the desert of southern California, USA.

Once known as the "California Riviera", the Salton Sea is now called one of America's worst ecological disasters: a fetid, stagnant, salty lake, that coughs up dead fish and birds by the thousands in frequent die-offs that occur. However, among the ruins of this man-made mistake, a few remaining eccentrics (a roadside nudist, a religious folk artist, a Hungarian revolutionary, and real estate speculators) struggle to keep a remodeled version of the original Salton Sea dream alive.

The film shares these people's stories and their difficulties in keeping their unique community alive, as the nearby cities of Los Angeles and San Diego attempt to take the agricultural water run-off that barely sustains the Salton Sea.

The film ultimately explores the historical, economic, political, and environmental issues that face the Salton Sea, while taking a closer look at the people who have chosen to live in what they see as a surreal paradise.


The film premiered at the 2004 Slamdance Film Festival. With the addition of John Waters as the film's narrator, the new version of the film premiered at the Provincetown International Film Festival, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, hosted by Mr. Waters himself. The film opened in select theaters on February 24, 2006 and continued to screen theatrically throughout the United States and Canada until late 2007.

A shorter, more environmentally themed version of the film aired on the Sundance Channel's GREEN programming block, along with occasional broadcasts on the PBS TV station KQED documentary series Truly, CA.

The DVD of Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea was released by the home video distributor, Docurama/New Video, on September 25, 2007.

Critical reception[edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes certified the film as "Fresh", reporting that 96% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 46 reviews.[2] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 72 out of 100, based on 8 reviews.[3] In screening at more than 200 festivals in twenty countries, Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea won 35 awards for Best Documentary.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ISBN 9780767098472; OCLC 156855197, 666528194, 801267763
  2. ^ "Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea – Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
  3. ^ "Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-05-09.

External links[edit]