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Showgirls : Still Sucks!

In an attempt to recoup its reputation-and, perhaps, the estimated $25 million deficit between the film’s cost and its U.S. gross-MGM has repositioned the 1995 accidental monstrosity Show-girls as a celebration of badness. But can camp go corporate?

For those who missed Showgirls during its terrifying first run, former crack whore NomiMalone (Elizabeth Berk-ley) wants to turn over a new leaf as a regular whore. She becomes a stripper, a showgirl and queen of the Vegas strip. Her old strip-club boss visits Nomi at the big Vegas theater as she climbs the spit-slippery pole of success and says in wonderment, “It must be weird not having anybody come on you.” Plot ensues, sort of.

David Schmader, a Seattle writer, provides succinct DVD commentary: “More than any other bad movie, Showgirls triumphs in that every single person involved in the making of the film is making the worst possible decision at every possible time.”

The package extras-drinking games?-are pretty crappy, although in the “Showgirls Diary” videos one does get to see director Paul Verhoeven ( Basic Instinct , Starship Troopers ) instructing Elizabeth Berkley how to act, which is sort of like watching a terrorist assemble a pipe bomb.

The DVD has no additions, no rescued scenes. Doesn’t matter: Unless they were filming with a laparoscope, it’s unlikely that there’s much more pornography Mr. Verhoeven could have added.

That being said, Showgirls outshines the repackaged bullshit. When Nomi spits on Vegas impresario and sleazebag ZackCarey(Kyle MacLachlan) near the end of the film, it’s still decidedly satisfying to know that finally Nomi’s not the one getting ejaculated on.

[ Showgirls VIP Edition (1995), NC-17, 131 min., $39.98.]

-Choire Sicha

Hell on Earth

Director Guillermo del Toro must have read the same New Age guide to the superhero psyche as Spider-Man ‘s Sam Raimi. With Hellboy , Mr. del Toro created a tortured comic-book character, played with wry panache by Ron Perlman (no, not the bald billionaire), whose battles with demonic foes pale in comparison to his awkward courtship of Liz Sherman, a fellow “freak” played by pouty Selma Blair who can spontaneously combust without igniting herself. Talk about symbolism! Since Hellboy is the Devil’s spawn, he is impervious to heat, making these two-oh, the irony-a match made in heaven.

Mr. Del Toro, who also wrote the script, throws in a lot of mishegoss about Hitler’s attempt to win World War II by retaining the services of Rasputin, the infamous, seemingly immortal occult adviser to the Romanov family. The Nazi plan is eventually thwarted-phew! (The movie, thank God, is not revisionist history.) But Rasputin still harbors the villain’s garden-variety desire for world domination, and Hellboy-oscillating between chomping on a cigar and a Baby Ruth (paging Dr. Freud)-won’t stand for it.

Mr. Del Toro, the director of Mimic and Blade II , serves the movie well by never taking any of this comic-book mumbo-jumbo too seriously, injecting a self-aware sense of humor whenever possible. When Rasputin shows Hellboy’s surrogate father a glimpse of the superhero in the future, on a throne lording over an Earth decimated by fire, a Post -like headline reads in the foreground, “The Apocalypse!” When Hellboy unearths a skeleton to give him directions to the secret lair of Rasputin, he resurrects only the top half of the corpse, prompting the creature to threaten, “If I had legs, I’d kick your ass!”

Thanks to Hellboy saving the Earth and all (shoot, I just gave away the ending), you have time to check it out should you want to be in on the fun when the sequel arrives.

[ Hellboy (2004), PG-13, 122 minutes, $20.96.]

-Jake Brooks

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