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Blood, Breasts and Beasts: SHOWGIRL STORIES (Recommended)

Old 10-09-00, 11:07 AM
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Attention Drive-In Mutants ...



T&A documentaries go WAY back in the annuals of cinema, even before the nudist camp movies of the '60s. A gal named Doris Wishman made a mess of them with racy drive-in titles like Behind the Nudist Curtain, Hideout in the Sun and my personal favorite, Nude on the Moon. Doris knew there was gold in them thar, ahem, hills -- and the same sorta stuff goes on today on the small screen. Most any night of the week, you can dial up E! Entertainment Television and watch thong-clad coeds frolicking at the world's most exotic resorts -- all under the cheeky guise of being a travel series. But damned if that tasty Jules Asner doesn't keep bumping into Hawaiian Tropic gals and Playboy bunnies oiling each other up. Now E! hasn't cornered the market, on HBO, there's "Taxicab Confessions," "Real Sex" and "Hey! Here's Some Nekkid People." Not that there's anything wrong with their marketing plan. I just want them to know I'm on to them. Further up the dial, is The Learning Channel, and they make REAL documentaries about socially important subject matter, one of them happens to be Showgirl Stories (1998, 104 minutes).

The movie: Washed-up actress Angelica Huston narrates this sometimes labored, sometimes erotic, sometimes touching look at the history of show dancing. We meet a bunch of wrinkled broads who used to be REAL hot back in the days when fellas went nuts over an exposed KNEE. One of the more eccentric ladies is Dixie Lee Evans who used to burn up the stage as the fake Marilyn Monroe. Now days, she still squeezes into an array of gaudy outfits and hosts the Miss Exotic World pageant. She'll also chatter on about her dancing days to anyone who'll listen. Her admirers were many, except for Ms. Monroe, of course. Retirees hold forth on the gentleman's entertainers of today -- and they ain't pleased. They say the stage was an unspoken barrier between a performer and her audience. With table dances, and the "interactive" nature of today's strippers, that wall has fallen, and the veterans feel its lowered their art form into the realm of prostitution. But, they must have never seen a good pole dance. Now THERE'S an art form. For that, the filmmakers visit London's Cabaret of Angels, as it's a proven fact that foreign sleaze comes off as downright CLASSY here in the U.S. of A. We meet a luscious 18-year-old gal who waxes philosophic in between waxing her holiest of holies. She's all ready cynical about the biz. She's all ready starting to hate men. But the tips are amazing! In between all the talking, is A LOT of eye candy, and A LOT of ridiculous costumes. Yet there's something oddly moving about listening to these women tell their stories -- the joy in their voices when they talk about their glory days. Days that are in stark contrast to those of the twilight of their years. Doggonit, the old broads got to me! I'll admit it. But keep an eye out for Natascha Maurer who wins a spot on the Blue Belles based on the awe-inspiring fullness of her talents.

Notables: 89 breasts. No dead bodies. No blood. Gratuitous slow mo. Multiple showgirl-applying-makeup shots. Suggestive dancing. Nauseating dancing. Two yard monsters. Cheesy magic act. Strained pasties. Multiple nostalgic geriatrics.

Quotables: A former showgirl beams, "It's a stimulation. It's something indescribable. It's, it's magic!" Lapdancing Killed the Cabaret Star, "It's horrible! It's like simulated sex, and that has nothing to do with the art of stripping." Someone cut off feminist fatale Camille Paglia's bar tab, "I see the men who go to the strip club as going to a shrine to worship female sexual power. I see woman as a dominatrixer motivation, "[I want to be] appreciated for something else other than putting a bowl of food on the table, and changing a dirty nappy."

Time codes: How to be a showgirl for the hubby (3:19). Dixie as Marilyn (6:44). "Open wide!" (8:45). Natascha pops her top for a dream gig (30:55). Old biddies dancing (50:00). Stripper auditions (1:05:54). Jiggling in the ranks (1:22:49).

Audio/Video: Packaging boasts three audio tracks: Dolby Digital Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround. My player only accessed one track, and that wasn't anything spectacular. The film is presented in its original widescreen (1.85:1) format. As one might expect, many of the scenes take place in dark nightclubs, and digital grain is present.

Extras: None.

Final thought: Can't hold a rhinestone pasty to Showgirls, but this documentary DID best Paul Verhoeven's sleazefest by 31 breasts. Way to go TLC. Recommended.

For a look at DVD Talk star rankings and purchasing info, click here.




Also reviewed: A Bucket of Blood (Highly Recommended), The Amityville Horror (Recommended) and The Madness Trilogy: Reefer Madness, Cocaine Fiends, Sex Madness (Recommended)
Coming soon: The Omen Box Set


COLLECTOR SERIES
Blood Feast: Special Edition, The Fly/The Fly2, Night of the Living Dead: Special Collector's Edition

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
The 4th Floor: Special Edition, A Bucket of Blood, Communion: Special Collector's Edition, Dance With The Devil, Divine Trash, From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, The Gore Gore Girls: Special Edition, Piranha: Special Edition, Razor Blade Smile: Special Edition, Shaft in Africa, Showgirls, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, They Live

RECOMMENDED
The Amityville Horror, The Blood Spattered Bride, Caracara, The Crush, Deep Red, Eaten Alive (Elite Version), Four Sided Triangle, Freejack, The Hidden: Special Edition, Hide and Seek, Inferno, I Was A Teenage Zombie, The Madness Trilogy: Reefer Madness, Cocaine Fiends, Sex Madness, Mercy, Misery, Oxygen: Special Edition, Pumpkinhead, Shaft's Big Score!, Shakes the Clown, Shock, Showgirl Stories, Stealth Fighter, Swamp Thing, Torso, Two Moon Junction, The Vampire Happening, Where the Buffalo Roam, The Wizard of Gore: Special Edition

RENT IT
Autopsy, Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane, The Highwayman: Special Edition, The Hitcher, The Killing Hour: Special Edition, Lucinda's Spell, Lured Innocence: Special Edition, Possession: Special Edition, The Wrecking Crew: Special Edition


G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.

[This message has been edited by noelgross (edited October 09, 2000).]
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Old 10-09-00, 08:59 PM
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Just watched Bucket of Blood yesterday and have to say - What a cool little movie, nice transfer and the beatnik stuff is hilarious, everyone should have a copy. Looking forward to your review of the Omen box, however Im not sure Id make even my worst enemy sit through Omen IV: The Awakening. If you have anythinggood to say about that one noelgross, you and me are gonna fall out - big time.
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Old 10-09-00, 10:49 PM
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CineSchlock-O-Rama
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Hey, Jonathan, I'm right there with ya ... Bucket is great! Pretty decent disc also. Glad to hear you got to check it out. I'll consider myself warned about Omen 4, but it's my duty to watch this stuff so others don't have to suffer. It's tough being so dang noble.

Keep an eye out for news on The Convent ... it looks like complete greatness. The flick is supposed to screen in the US (Halloweenish) before being released by A-Pix early 2001. There's some notes about it on the Fangoria link below.

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