Illustration: Adeline Pericart
There are nights when you look through your DVD collection and none of your favourite films float your boat – what you need is some serious Trash - the black sheep of your collection; something so bad that makes you feel good. Warning: to appreciate these films booze is recommended. And so over the next couple of weeks the Film Ireland collection of filmaholics shed their dignity, hide their shame and open their bins to reveal their trashiest films in the latest installment of…
‘… some of the worst written and delivered dialogue ever committed
to celluloid …’
Paul Verhoven is not a man who does things by half. His movies are not exactly what you might call ‘average’ or ‘forgettable’, and for a while there, he was on a winning streak that borders on the unbelievable; RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers… but somewhere in the middle of all that he released the first big-budget ‘adult’ movie since the 70s, and it turned out to be one of the biggest critical flops of all time, going on to win 7 Razzies, including Worst Picture Of The Decade. That movie is Showgirls.
Basically a modern-day retelling of All About Eve, this is the story of Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) who arrives in Las Vegas with no money and less back-story, with the dreams of headlining ‘Goddess’ topless show at the Stardust Casino. Her roommate, whom she meets and agrees to move in with within 45 seconds of arriving in Vegas, happens to work as the costume designer for the show, and introduces her to the current headliner Crystal Connors (Gina Gershon), and thus begins a quasi-sexual love/hate relationship as Nomi allows the sparkle and glamour of the bright lights of Vegas dirty up her soul…
Verhoven has always had a knack for instilling a certain amount of subtext to his films, be it the OTT ’80s Reagan-commercialism of RoboCop (not to mention the Christ allegory), or America’s obsession with military seen in Starship Troopers (not to mention America’s inability to cast teenagers as teenagers in movies or TV show), so it would be easy to defend ShowGirls as having a subtext of our need for more graphic sex, having had our hunger for graphic violence sated, probably by another of Verhoven’s movies.
But any defence you might have for the subliminal intelligence of the movie is quickly destroyed by some of the worst written and delivered dialogue ever committed to celluloid and there’s no defending it, nor the fact that each line is delivered like the actresses were pumped full of Xanax and told to seduce something one hundred feet away. But it’s these awful moments that make the movie so ridiculously great. The acting is so monumentally awful, the ‘sexiness’ is so fantastically misjudged, and everything is so gargantuanly over-the-top, that you can’t help but have yourself a good time.