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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.54%
Worth A Look: 10.56%
Average: 8.45%
Pretty Bad: 9.86%
Total Crap48.59%

5 reviews, 112 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Not so bad it's good. It's just bad."
1 stars

"You fuck them without fucking them," says a showgirl's friend about her relationship to her customers. That sums up "Showgirls," a movie I expected to be sleazy, offensive, and bad, but not boring. That it's all four at once -- often in the same scene -- doesn't make it 1995's worst film, but it does make it the year's biggest scam.

I didn't go to Showgirls for the nudity, which God knows is available elsewhere, and I didn't go hoping for art or even a coherent story. What I wanted, I guess, was some justification for the hype, some electricity, some heat -- something resembling a movie. This was the first major-studio film to be classified NC-17 (No Children Under 17), but there's nothing in Showgirls that you haven't seen in a dozen unrated "erotic thrillers," or even in R-rated movies of a less repressive period, so the NC-17 rating is once again squandered.

Showgirls is all jiggle and no sizzle. That's especially surprising coming from director Paul Verhoeven, the Dutch bad boy whose previous movie, Basic Instinct, both parodied and buried the erotic-thriller genre. Plunging into the cynical sex-slime of Joe Eszterhas' script, Verhoeven operated with such transgressive-aggressive glee that the film holds up today as a flustered film noir farce. Showgirls, also written by Eszterhas, isn't nearly as offensive or as guiltily pleasurable. Under the surface of writhing bodies and smutty talk lies ... a morality play circa 1935, in which our innocent heroine (or relatively innocent in Eszterhas' world -- she's an ex-hooker) learns that Las Vegas is full of bad men. The movie seems to say that life as a Vegas stripper would be fulfilling and prosperous if not for the crude sexists who run and patronize the clubs. You mean crude sexists like Verhoeven and Eszterhas?

Elizabeth Berkley, unknown to me (she was a regular on TV's Saved by the Bell), makes her screen debut as the heroine, Nomi Malone, a drifter who hitches to Vegas and sets herself up at a cheesy nightclub. Those unfamiliar with lap-dancing can learn something from the early scenes, in which Nomi rubs her naked, sweaty merchandise all over Kyle MacLachlan (playing the "entertainment manager" of a competing club, and occasionally showing his embarrassment in the role). MacLachlan, who pays Nomi the ultimate compliment (he creams his jeans), has come to Nomi's club with his superstar showgirl Cristal Connors (Gina Gershon). Cristal is one of those nasty, elite Eszterhas bisexual puppetmasters -- you meet one every day. She zeroes in on Nomi, pulls strings to get her hired at her fancier club (which is basically Nomi's club with slightly better decor), and has some sexual fixation on Nomi.

A fascinating movie could be made about the inner workings of the unapologetically retro Vegas clubs and the women who work there -- how they interact with the clientele (who can't all be leering pigs, as they are in this movie), how they separate their highly sexualized jobs from their home lives. Showgirls isn't that movie. For one thing, Verhoeven doesn't have the performers. Berkley and Gershon look their parts, but Berkley comes off as an unappealing bimbo -- you look in her eyes and see Cheez Whiz -- and Gershon, though coldly amusing in the Sharon Stone manner, has nothing to do except repeat her three or four basic expressions. Gina Ravera, as Nomi's roomie Molly, suggests some warmth and depth, but Molly only exists as the movie's drab conscience, and she endures an ugly rape scene that has various subtexts but doesn't strike the emotional chord it should. Alan Rachins, such a great rat on L.A. Law all those years, is consistently funny as a hard-assed club owner, but his character is as poorly written as the rest.

And then there are the money scenes -- the elaborate production numbers with bare-assed showgirls parading around the stage as fireballs go up and pouting male dancers writhe around them. It's all very '80s, like the hideous "Satan's Alley" number at the end of Staying Alive; if this is what real nudie shows are like these days, I'd just as soon avoid Vegas. The dancing isn't erotic, it's aerobic. Honestly, I don't get it. And if the ridiculous, thrashing sex scene in MacLachlan's pool is supposed to get guys hard, it'll most likely leave them as limp as the movie itself. Showgirls is the latest nasty-sex movie -- a conservative genre in disguise, creating a world in which sex boils down to the user and the used, all of whom are degraded and guilty. Even the grossest porn is more cheerfully sexual than this movie. It's a lap-dance, but it's not likely to make anyone come.

"I'm erect," says Rachins to Nomi, comparing his dick to her nipples. "Why aren't you?" If Verhoeven and Eszterhas (the Erectile Duo) asked me the same question, I'd show them two videos to shut them up: "Don't Look Now," which contains the gentlest, most fumbling and naturalistic (and therefore hottest) lovemaking scene ever put on film, and any Astaire-Rogers musical, whose romantic dance numbers remain more erotically expressive than anything in "Showgirls."

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originally posted: 12/25/06 07:29:25
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/13/17 morris campbell shitty showgirls u should skip it 1 stars
4/25/15 David Hollingsworth Makes Howard the Duck look like The Third Man 1 stars
8/04/14 D. The R. The most abysmally awful big budget production of the 20th century, hands down! 1 stars
4/27/12 Hugh Grant Campy crap. How did Colin Firth miss out in getting a part in this pc? 1 stars
10/14/10 art LIZ BERKLY really show's off her "TALENT"S" 1 stars
9/12/10 Nadine Russo Saw it. It was all right. Gina Gershon is a great actress. 2 stars
12/26/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Typical Hollywood Hostess twnikie bull. Why didn't the public lap this up? 1 stars
4/19/08 Pamela White T and A but no more 1 stars
3/13/08 Bozzy Herpos This film is complete and utter shite. I agree with the reveiwer, it is high camp. Dogshit. 1 stars
7/20/06 David Cohen Pull yer head out John Smith: This movie sucks like a hoover 1 stars
6/10/05 Indrid Cold Despite the "so bad it's good" status, it really is not very enjoyable. 2 stars
6/04/05 Hack-SAW SORRY FOR THE RATING BUT... Gina Gershon WAS THE ONLY SAVING GRACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/19/05 That Guy As far as crappy movies go, this one, Yawn... 2 stars
3/11/05 The Sorrow Gina Gershon, was the only thing that was pure in this absolutley gritty flick... 3 stars
12/23/04 Jason Kaul Anybody who watched "Saved By The Bell" for Elizabeth Berkley should jack off to this movie 2 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams Versace never sounded so tacky 1 stars
12/03/04 luisalopez excelent movie 5 stars
9/28/04 ELI HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! This shit is so STUPID!!!! 1 stars
9/04/04 Archanist_101 It's not TOO BAD... But it does go over board with the sexual & violent content... 4 stars
5/17/04 mwildema whoa! shouldn't this have a stronger rating 1 stars
2/29/04 Nicole Saw edited version on VH1 and it made no sense - probably because alot of the film was cut 2 stars
2/01/04 Cypher gg 5 stars
1/20/04 michel Totally agree with Mark Adnum's review. Verhoeven's gonna have the last word!! 5 stars
1/12/04 Farnq Y Fairly honest movie about showbiz 4 stars
1/01/04 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Not a bad movie. To all who disagree, "Back off, motherfucker!" 3 stars
12/10/03 Samuel I was 6 when i watched it I dont really remember alot! 3 stars
12/01/03 I Would The funniest film ever made... oh it's not a comedy? Oh dear. 2 stars
11/28/03 john rather silly 2 stars
11/05/03 nil pretty 2 stars
10/03/03 Z - a WOMAN actually physically painful to watch. watched in disbelief of its badness (sob) 1 stars
9/29/03 JohnnyXXX Not as bad as what most people claimed it to be. It was quite entertaining. 4 stars
8/06/03 Double G Elizabeth Berkley is so hot, but its not such a great movie. 4 stars
8/06/03 AD it wasnt that bad 4 stars
8/04/03 Nicole Had no plot - perhaps because I saw the edited version, which cuts the movie in half 2 stars
7/03/03 Lush It's sheer cackiness actually makes it entertaining. 1 stars
6/26/03 Matthew Gutiérrez this movie really rocked, as opposed to others. i liked the dancing and elizabeth berkley 5 stars
5/19/03 Erykk Gershon is a doll...she is better than this. 1 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon If I were making a T&A piece, I'd try to get someone hotter than Berkley (and likely fail) 1 stars
4/29/03 Mr. Do Entertaining. 4 stars
4/22/03 mr. Pink Reviewer Mark Adnum is right on the money on this one. 5 stars
4/08/03 Jack Sommersby Could have been a trashy classic had it not taken itself seriously. 2 stars
2/05/03 Atanu Nath a very smart review from Mark. hated the lead though. but i like Gershon. 3 stars
2/02/03 fjfvdd This one can only be enjoyed by morons with a shitload of time on their hands. 1 stars
11/11/02 Chiendog As much fun as a magnifying glass and an anthill on a sunny day. 4 stars
10/16/02 Ken Mark Adnum = Walter Chaw? Verhoeven deserved cancer for this. 1 stars
7/22/02 Mark Adnum Uh, that's a "NO" on both counts, jdajd 5 stars
7/19/02 jdajd Mark Adnum HAS to be related to someone in this movie or just a plain moron 1 stars
7/12/02 Mark Adnum Everybody's different, I guess, tad 5 stars
7/08/02 internetwhore hahahahahhaha! the funniest piece of celluloid to ever be let loose on the masses! 5 stars
6/24/02 Baal Can't understand any of the bad comments. Come on, people, it's fun to watch! 5 stars
4/26/02 Charles Tatum If I need boobs, I will just watch real porn 1 stars
4/17/02 Veronica Foxx (The Raven-Haired Temptress) Does Kyle McLachlan have a chainsaw for a penis? He must the way she was thrashing around. 1 stars
4/03/02 jhon i like it 5 stars
4/03/02 Edfink Lombardo Shit, shit, shit. Laughably terrible dialogue and acting. An unerotic mess. 1 stars
3/07/02 Jenny Tullwartz Her name ain't even Lola. Doesn't even have very appealing nudity for those who want it. 2 stars
3/02/02 Mo Anand The critics hated it...I for one like's entertaining. 4 stars
2/28/02 John Linton Roberson Definitely worth watching, among friends, mocking it merrily all the way through. 1 stars
2/27/02 Alan Smithee A truly awful film. But Gina Gershon is still one of the most beautiful women EVER!!!! 1 stars
2/01/02 Bertha Venation All its missing is Patty Duke, she could have played Helen Lawson this time 5 stars
12/04/01 Crunchyfrog I came and came and came...then left 5 stars
10/07/01 jawsboy great pussy & ass!! , piece of shit film making however 1 stars
9/20/01 Monster W. Kung Jake, you are the ultime joke on movie making. Cut your throat. This movie is horseshit! 1 stars
8/27/01 phil m. afficiando makes you wonder about the lives of those who made this thing 1 stars
8/19/01 Edwin Menguin Was this film deliberatley crap?, In the pool is she being knifed in the minge? 1 stars
6/28/01 Frank This movie is so wretched that it's fabulous! 4 stars
4/20/01 i love movies Coyote Ugly is worse! No jigglies in that one! 2 stars
4/18/01 fred not even a nice dick to look at.... boooooo 1 stars
3/27/01 The M.E. The most consistently awful, hilarious thing I've ever seen. Priceless entertainment. 5 stars
3/10/01 Jake I know its bad but it is sooo damn entertaining. 4 stars
3/08/01 I love movies was Verhoeven trying to make the worst movie of all time? I hope he was... 1 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy Possibly one of the worst Hollywood films ever, but for sheer laughter, wow. 5 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi This film is one reason Hollywood Bitchslap was born. 1 stars
2/01/01 jordan i've watched this film many times to try to like it. i can't. 1 stars
11/21/00 Randy Eischer The pork in the pool made it all worthwhile 3 stars
10/17/00 Croweater Was everyone on drugs in this movie?? God this was awful! 1 stars
10/05/00 terry c ah jeez i'm gonna be sick all over berkley,bbbllllaaaahhh 1 stars
9/19/00 Terrie Smith Absolute crap; one of the worst I've seen for many a year. Terrible acting. 1 stars
8/06/00 Bruce AWFUL 1 stars
7/13/00 ID This film is BAD 1 stars
6/25/00 SwatchDog Hilarious! I got it at Versase. Not Oscar Material, but has definitely earned cult status 5 stars
5/18/00 Creeper simply repulsive 1 stars
3/25/00 Lipian Well, it wasnt that fucking great but the tits were o.k. 4 stars
2/11/00 Kyle Broflovski Pasties, periods, pussy-tarts--everything that sucks about being female... 1 stars
1/22/00 movieman It gave me a hard-on, I masturbate to it 1 stars
1/04/00 Nice Guy Eddie ranks as one of the worst movies I've seen, I was extremely bored throughout. 1 stars
12/06/99 Big M Quote from showgils: "I've eaten dogfood before"-"really?"-"Yeah."-"Yeah dogfood is nice." 2 stars
11/07/99 Mickey "Father Death" MacJohnstmyster Its my favourite scary movie , absolutely frightening . Randy Meeks 1 stars
9/25/99 alyssa Who the hell was she sleeping with?? Oh maybe Paul Verhoeven??? 1 stars
9/19/99 Real McCoy If you like PUSSY then you like this Movie 5 stars
9/17/99 TheScream Bad movies can be so delicious. This one is a hot fudge sundae. Not good for you, but yummy 5 stars
9/16/99 strike Let's just say that I think or at least hope that someday this movie won't be ridiculed. 4 stars
9/13/99 K Pillsbury pure, unadulterated crap 1 stars
8/17/99 John Roberson Should be shown to screenwriters as example of what not to do. 1 stars
7/10/99 Caligula Filming a turd for 2 hours would be more entertaining 1 stars
4/06/99 rich n great bodies,and funny it does't take itself serious. 4 stars
3/19/99 Bob "T I T S"; Ben is a faggot 5 stars
3/08/99 Ben Timms Lame, Lame, LAME!!! 1 stars
3/07/99 little jerry Elizabeth Berkley is like a blow-up doll come angrily alive.Best scene-sauce on the chips. 5 stars
3/05/99 Jimmi "Saved by the breats" 5 stars
2/07/99 Don Wilson Has some really cute pussy! 5 stars
1/09/99 Jo Mama oh my goodness! mercy! i saw gina girshon's boobies! 4 stars
11/24/98 Mr.Pink America is in denial to sexuality and their own society, the reaction to Showgirls provesit 5 stars
11/24/98 DrEvil Could only have been if Oprah was in it. "They took my milk." Gives me shivers. 1 stars
11/14/98 Rageboy BLAH! A big-budget porno that isn't even sexy. 1 stars
11/02/98 MR HOLLYWOOD !! Confrontational but more 'UMF' was needed,sexy and silly at the least. 4 stars
10/29/98 J-Guy (the MFC) boring crap. too much titty (if that's possible). badbadbad. 1 stars
10/28/98 Matt A.C. would be very dissapointed in little Jesse. 5 stars
10/27/98 Lord Of The Dunce Give this movie credit for being the perfect hype/promotion/masturbation vehicle. Great. 5 stars
10/27/98 Christ Monkey Joe Eszterhas is a dialogue genius! "Must be weird not having people cum on you!!!" GENIUS! 5 stars
10/27/98 Cage Didn't listen to anyone and rented it... I had hope, but was let down. Wanted more titty... 2 stars
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  22-Sep-1995 (R)
  DVD: 27-Jul-2004


  12-Oct-1995 (R)

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