I wish I could tell you exactly how many times I have seen the movie Showgirls. I would guess it has topped 100 times, making it the movie that I have watched more than any other! I am not sure this film really deserves this spot on my list of most watched movies. I saw it originally 15 years ago on opening weekend in downtown Santa Barbara -- around September 22nd 1995. I tried to find my original movie stub -- I know I have it somewhere! I assume it opened up in Los Angeles a week or so before Santa Barbara but I do know that I saw it before I had read any reviews. This was way before I had a cell phone, way before myspace and facebook, and I didn't even have my own computer with the internet at this point, so I hadn't even heard my friends' reactions to the movie before I went and saw it for myself. I went to see it with my friend Stephanie. We both had a healthy love of irony and loved to make fun of just about anything. I didn't really have high hopes for the movie, but I had loved Basic Instinct. This was the next movie with the powerhouse pairing of director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. The screenplay cost $2 million, which is hard to believe after watching the movie even just once! It is possibly one of the worst scripts ever made into a big budget film! But after the huge success of Basic Instinct, I am sure the producers were expecting to have another huge hit on their hands. Eszterhas had also written Jade, released the same year as Showgirls and Sliver, which was released 2 years earlier. I would not consider any of these scripts amazing pieces of literature but they all worked to a certain extent as entertaining movies. For some reason everything just went perfectly wrong to make Showgirls one of the best worst movies of all time. Most of my favorite cult films were made in the 1970s and 1980s. Showgirls sort of goes into its own category. I think most of the cult movies that I like are actually well made movies. I would never say that a movie made by John Waters is actually bad -- I think they are all amazing films, although I am sure many people consider them to be bad. But I think almost everyone can agree that Showgirls is simply a very bad movie. Still, there is something about that that is endearing -- something that makes us all fall in love with Nomi and Cristal and the rest of the cast. I still can't get enough of this movie!
I saw Showgirls twice during its original theatrical run. I bought the movie when it was released on VHS and have probably watched it a minimum of 3 to 4 times a year for the last 15 years. It was the kind of movie that I would even watch when it showed up on cable TV even though I already owned a copy! I did try to avoid the edited version on regular TV or VH1, because although I could live without ever having to watch the rape scene again, I did like to watch the regular NC-17 version, the way the movie was meant to be seen. Showgirls does remain the highest grossing NC-17 movie, but it was not a success at the box office and was obviously hated by the critics. Through word of mouth though, it ended up being very successful as a rental and for puchase on VHS. The VH1 version edited out some of the more sexually graphic scenes and placed digitally enhanced black bras and panties over the scenes with nudity. They even dubbed many of Nomi's lines in the movies. Elizabeth Berkley refused to dub the edited version so another voice actress is heard in the edited version. There were a couple of years when I watched the movie about once a week. One of my roommates in 1998 and 1999 was just as obsessed with the movie as I was. We sort of used the movie as our therapy. Whenever we were a bit sad or depressed we turned to Showgirls for help. We often said to each other something like, "Tonight is a Showgirls kind of night." We would often cancel our plans to just stay home and watch Showgirls. Sometimes we would watch the movie while we were getting ready to go out. Basically, it was a rare occasion when the movie was not in one of our VCRs. I upgraded to the DVD when the VIP Edition was released in 2004. The deluxe box set came with shot glasses, playing cards and a play along with the movie drinking game. The deluxe DVD also came with some fancy bonus features -- a pop up video style trivia track and an audio commentary with David Schmader. The DVD was released without the box in 2007. I managed to catch the movie 3 more times in the theater over the years. I went to a couple of the Peaches Christ Midnight Mass performances over the years and I even went and saw it at the Metreon in San Francisco for a special re-release. I normally don't like to hear somebody talking who is sitting behind me in the theater, but for this movie I love it. During the re-release some guy behind me basically had a comment for every single scene in the movie. He was basically having a conversation with the cast and had every line memorized, and I loved it! I kind of wish MGM had tracked him down to do the audio commentary.
And now, in 2010, we get what we have all been waiting for: The Blu-ray edition! And yes, it is also the 15th Anniversary edition! This new edition comes with both the regular DVD and the Blu-ray, so if you have not yet upgraded to a Blu-ray player, it might still be worth it for you to invest in this edition. I do like the fact that I can watch it both in my bedroom on my regular DVD player and on my Blu-ray with my bigger TV, and the movie does look good in Hi Definition. This new edition includes all the bonus features from the last release; however, the DVD menu has been updated. You can even mark your favorite scenes using the bookmark feature. I also highly recommend watching the movie in French and Spanish -- it puts a new spin on the movie for sure! Might even help you learn a new language. The audio commentary is not one of the best, though. I recommend the trivia track instead. It is actually much funnier than the audio commentary, and you can also watch it with both on at the same time. I tried to watch it in Spanish with the audio commentary and the trivia track but I think this is just too much for the DVD to handle at once. The "Showgirls Diary" feature is also not to be missed. It shows some behind the scenes direction and also shows a script to screen comparison that might shed a little light and how the movie go to be so bad.
We all have our favorite scenes in the movie and I definitely have many -- I love the big choreographed performances of the Goddess show, but my favorite is the motorcycle fetish routine. Most of my favorite scenes take place at the Stardust. I love the behind the scenes stuff before the shows. I love when Nomi first gets to watch the Goddess performance and realizes that this is what she needs to do with her life. I also love when Nomi first gets to perform and Gay and Molly are backstage cheering her on. There really is a whole lot to love about this movie! Any scene with Elizabeth Berkley acting is of course amazing -- and she is in every single scene. I love Henrietta "Mama" Bazoom and the scenes at the Cheetah. One of my favorite scenes is when Cristal and Nomi go to lunch at Spago. It is amazing. Absolutely amazing! They talk about doggy chow and call champagne "holy water." They make a toast with chips! It is just brilliant! I also can't get enough of the pool scene with Nomi and Zack. And I love any of the scenes with the monkeys in the dressing room. Another couple of my favorite scenes are the hamburger scenes -- the opening scene when Nomi first meets Molly and they go to eat french fries and soda is cinematic genius! Nomi's acting in this scene is breathtaking. She stabs her soda with the straw. She later eats a hamburger in a car with James. She is so excited to be eating the hamburger that she throws the wrapper in the air as if it's a feather boa and lets it fall away from the car. I have never seen someone so joyous to be littering! She doesn't have a care in the world. She later has an amazing scene on top of one of the hotels eating a hamburger by herself. She has really succeeded at this point and can now afford her own hamburgers! This scene could really be one of those gross commercials for Carl's Jr. with Padma from Top Chef. I really wish they would use it. I have never seen somebody so happy to be eating a hamburger. And she is just so content and satisfied with her life at this point. I really get proud of her at this moment. I could watch this scene over and over again...and I have! There are some horrible lines in this movie but I think the worst lines all seem to go to James or Penny. James is the choreographer who creates his own dance show at the Crave club. Penny takes Nomi's place in the production when Nomi gets too famous with Goddess. It is actually kind of unbelievable... I also love anything to do with Penny's past. She desperately tries to hide her past as a prostitute. I love the scene where Tony Moss calls her Pollyanna and she freaks out because she thinks he knows her real name is Polly. She also has to cover up her past when meeting with human resources for her new job at the Stardust. The woman who works in human resources is also the maid in Basic Instinct. I love that Paul Verhoeven keeps some of the small actors throughout his movies. Jack McGee plays both a stagehand in Showgirls and a sheriff in Basic Instinct. He is the one who finds the jewels that made the dancer fall and break her leg. I only really know who he is because he came and talked to my high school drama class. This is my connection to Showgirls! But he really is the hardest working small part actor in Hollywood. I have seen him show up in probably 10 different movies or TV shows every year.
This movie still holds up. It is just as bad as you remember, and it has been fun to revisit the movie once again! I recommend you watch it with some friends who have never seen it before. There are amazingly still some people out there who have not yet seen this movie! I had my Showgirls Blu-ray release party last week. I invited some pals who had never seen the movie in its entirety. One of them had only seen the crappy edited version on VH1! It was amazing to see them watch some scenes for the first time. I really hope that this movie continues to entertain people for the next 100 years. I still have never seen a movie this amazingly brilliantly bad! I will now be waiting for some of my other 90's favorites to come out on Blu-ray, although I don't think the Amy Fisher story with Drew Barrymore will be released anytime soon... But I will be having a big party if it does!
Here is the brilliant teaser trailer for Showgirls...
Here is the amazing interview with Elizabeth Berkley on David Letterman from 1995....
David Letterman is super creepy in this interview...but I love that Elizabeth has no idea how bad the movie is and how it was about to become a cult movie and remembered as one of the worst movies ever...
and here is the review of the film on Siskel & Ebert...two thumbs down...
Buy the deluxe 15th anniversary Blu-ray/DVD combo!!!
also out 6/15...
Caddyshack Original Soundtrack reissue
Something For Everybody by Devo
The Drums by The Drums
Total Life Forever by the Foals
Lustre by Ed Harcourt
Time Flies: 1994-2009 by Oasis
Sister Kinderhook by Rasputina
Barbara by We Are Scientists
also out 6/22...
Disco2 by Health
Boxer by Kele
Memphis Blues by Cyndi Lauper
Scream by Ozzy Osbourne
Learning by Perfume Genius
Five Ghosts by Stars
Sex Dreams & Denim Jeans by Uffie
Threshingfloor by Wovenhand