Showgirls (1995) is a film about a young woman's rise to the top of the Las Vegas showgirl circuit. Loosely based on the 1950 Oscar-winning Hollywood classic All About Eve starring Bette Davis, Showgirls features a snakelike chorus dancer lying in wait to star in a popular Las Vegas revue. Director Paul Verhoeven expected great success by adding nearly naked women to this familiar story.
To his shock, the movie flopped at the box office and earned horrific reviews, becoming a sweepstakes winner of the nefarious Razzie Awards. Though those who rate movies by their quantity and variety of breasts likely think Showgirls is great, most viewers find that the topless shots are overwhelmed by a story that dwells on slime, featuring some stunningly crude comments. Others, however, say the movie's trashiness is mitigated by unintended laughs. The movie eventually earned place #36 on Entertainment Weekly's list of Top 100 cult films, compiled in 2003. Trash fans love the movie's running symbolism on fingernails, one of its heroine's specialties.
Since director Verhoeven is known for risque material like Basic Instinct (1992), viewers might expect to learn something about sex from Showgirls, but the only lovemaking scene in the movie should come with a "Don't try this at home" warning label. Frolicking in a swimming pool, the lovers resemble sea serpents suffering from an intestinal malady—perhaps a cross between cholera and epilepsy—that induces spasmodic, breaching belly flops. It could be a result of what has earlier been described as the heroine's "natural pelvic thrust," which seems capable of being turned into a weapon of mass destruction.
In 2004, MGM released a campy anniversary DVD set that provided commentary from David Schmader, a comedian who toured the country showing the film and stopping it in places to make wisecrack observations. The real highlight, however, is the party game included in the package, "Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl." Showgirls found its niche as kitsch.
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