Showgirl Murders

Lava Lamp
Our rating: one lava lamp.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Showgirl Murders
She's so classy even her
murder weapon has fringe.
Still reeling after the beating we'd received from Future Kick, we realized that the only enjoyment to be gleaned from it was in the endless parade of strippers on screen. Actually, the only enjoyment from a lot of the b-movies we've watched recently was in the endless parade of strippers on screen. Following this course of logic to its inevitable conclusion, we decided to cut out the middleman and rent a bad movie about strippers. Thus we walked, no, ran into the waiting arms of Maria Ford (star of such classic stripper movies as Naked Obsession and Angel of Destruction), and her 1996 opus Showgirl Murders.

Need we repeat the old saw about movies featuring nudity in the first ten minutes? You've heard it before, and you don't need us to tell you that Showgirl Murders has naked flesh in spades. In fact, we're considering making up a new rule about films which feature nudity not only in the first ten minutes, but every ten minutes thereafter. Can you name a good film which has such an abundance of female flesh? Not that we're complaining exactly -- that is why we rented the film -- but you know a film built around strippers is likely to be low brow.

Readers versed in the lore of b-movies have probably already guessed from the title that Showgirl Murders is a movie that was made for a song and named to capitalize on the success (uh, make that notoriety) of a certain big-budget movie about strippers in Las Vegas. What isn't immediately apparent from the title is whether the film deals with murdered showgirls or showgirls who are murderers. The answer: neither. It's a film about a stripper who is a murderer. Never once do we see a showgirl, because we feel certain that showgirls represent some modicum of entertainment talent, and none of the ladies in this film meet that qualification.

Showgirl Murders
"...and then the little stripper who could
went on to a lucrative career in b-movies!"
Maria Ford, who also "choreographed" all of the "dance numbers" in the movie (she danced 90% of them too), plays Jessica, a seemingly down-on-her-luck but pretty girl in need of a job. She approaches Mitch Goodman (no symbolism there), the owner of the "XXX's and OOO's Bar" for a job. Mitch, never averse to having a pretty girl in the joint to keep the barflies buzzing around, tells her she can work for tips. Seizing the initiative, Jessica jumps atop the pool table and starts stripping, much to the delight of Mitch's two customers and the concern of his wife Carolyn.

Carolyn: Isn't this illegal?

Mitch (selling drinks): It's the law of supply and demand....

Carolyn, a hard core boozer ever since she accidentally killed a child with her car*, is at first skeptical of Jessica's plan to turn the bar into a full-fledged strip joint. The sight of two grand an evening, however, quickly helps her to change her tune. Carolyn spends her nights drinking whiskey from a Ringling Brothers clown cup and watching the money roll in while Jessica struts her stuff for the customers and puts the moves on Mitch after hours. Mitch, whose marriage hasn't been the same since Carolyn took up drinking as an occupation, soon comes to agree with Jessica's idea that they help Carolyn kick the oxygen habit. "It would solve all of our problems," she whispers as she undresses Mitch on the bar's pool table. Sexy!

Showgirl Murders
That's not the only giant sucker in this film.
The plot can only thicken from there, of course. For kicks, screenwriter Christopher Wooden throws in a crooked DEA agent, a couple of shadowy drug dealers from Jessica's past, and of course -- more strippers. That's the most entertaining thing about Showgirl Murders, really: every time Mitch and Jessica get into trouble and need cash, she fixes it with "some new ideas" to bring in more customers. Those new ideas always manifest themselves in kinkier striptease routines and more naked ladies, for which we can only applaud Ms. Ford, our choreographer. The woman is an undying font of sleaze!

Unfortunately, Ford's physique in this film is simply not what it was in previous movies. Our hazy memories from Naked Obsession are of a much prettier woman, whose ribs didn't show quite so much and whose body didn't look quite so deflated. Despite her line towards the beginning of the film that there's "enough of me to go around," we can't help but wonder if that's true. If Maria Ford had to go and make a film in which we she spent more time without clothes than with, we wish she had done it earlier in her career -- or at least eaten some cookies before the filming began.

Showgirl Murders
Let's see Elizabeth Berkeley do this!
Apart from her looks, Ford is at least making an effort to act in Showgirl Murders. She seems genuinely enthusiastic to be doing her various acts on the club runway, and if she can't quite carry the scenes in which she's supposed to be a master manipulator, we can forgive her. So what if she's not Miranda Richardson -- when was the last time you saw Miranda Richardson strip to the buff and pour champagne over herself?

Mention must be made of the supporting cast, including Bob McFarland, who makes one of his myriad appearances as a cop in a b-movie. McFarland plays Ridley, the crooked DEA agent who hangs around the bar watching the show for free and making comments like "Been there, done that," at Ms. Ford's more preposterous routines. McFarland could give Dennis Franz lessons in being repulsive -- not that the world needs that kind of teaching. His best line is "I'm in the crime business, and I smell a crime." All in favor of lynching the screenwriter now, say "aye."

Showgirl Murders
She's not just a drunken stripper at the bar,
she's half-owner, too!
The other oaken pillar of support in this flick is D.S. Case (if that is her real name) as Carolyn. This is Case's only listed acting credit, but she looked so familiar that it wouldn't surprise us if she had some other movies tucked away under another identity. Incognito or not, Case does a first-rate job of playing a mostly unlikable and clueless character who is murdered not once, but twice -- Mitch and Jessica's first attempt being predictably unsuccessful. Carolyn is a sardonic character who meets a nasty end but manages to show some emotion in the bargain, which is a lot more than we can say for Matt Preston as Mitch. If you thought the screenwriter was Wooden, you should see this guy.

There's probably a better movie out there about strippers. Showgirl Murders has a meandering story, an embarrassing cast, and a director who wouldn't even use his real name. (He did, however, credit himself properly in his part as the crazy driver in the getaway car.) At an hour and a half, it was still about twenty minutes too long. But if you're looking for a solid evening of women taking their clothes off interspersed with a mildly amusing intrigue plot, look no further than this. The really sad thing is that, as bad as this film was, we still liked it better than Showgirls.

Rent or Buy from Reel.

Review date: 1/18/99

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Showgirl Murders* This, of course, leads to painful and bizarre flashback/dream sequences in which Carolyn relives the accident in her sleep. Imagine our delight to find images of children hula-hooping in a movie about strippers. Go back!