After being nominated in 13 categories, Showgirls went away with an impressive 7 wins at the 1996 Razzie awards. Wins included, worst film, worst director, worst actress and worst screenplay. Director Paul Verhoeven became the first recipient of a Razzie to attend the ceremony and collect the award in person.
Known for his Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters and risqué erotic thrillers, Dutch director Verhoeven, prior to Showgirls, had had a string of consecutive hits: Robocop (1987), Total Recall (1990) and Basic Instinct (1992). After the success of Basic Instinct, the same creative team re-assembled 3 years later to produce Showgirls. With the same writer, director and producer in place, how could it be anything less than a smash?
It was a bomb. Losing money at the box office and being universally panned by critics, the film didn’t gather any momentum until it’s release on home video. Since then it’s been considered to be something of a cult classic. It’s sleazy, cheesy, badly produced with terrible dialogue and it’s camp as Christmas.
I’m a big fan of Verhoeven and Showgirls is, well, not his finest work, but a perfectly enjoyable 2 hours. Despite the films flaws it is anything but dull. It’s one of those wonderfully rare occasions where a film is so bad that it’s good, without striving to achieve cult status. It was made on a modest budget of $45 million with the intention of becoming a smash hit blockbuster like it’s predecessor. It was never created to be intentionally jeered at, mocked and applauded for it’s awfulness. It attempted to push the boundaries of the erotic thriller, and instead turned into cult classic for everything other than that. I love the film and I’m glad that even 21 years after it’s release it still has an audience. With an unofficial sequel released in 2011 and an off Broadway musical adaptation produced in 2013, weirdly enough Showgirls may be “the one” that Verhoeven is remembered for.