We confess: When the Riviera’s long-running topless show Crazy Girls announced the creation of its own feature film in 2008, we felt like a deer caught in cinematic headlights. How good could it be? How bad could it be? Then, in an odd series of coincidences, we were out sick on the days that press screenings and announcements about On Demand availability went out. But finally, when a DVD of Crazy Girls Undercover was hand-delivered by a barely dressed showgirl with a thick Eastern European accent (to commemorate new airings on Showtime), we succumbed.
Shockingly, CGU is not altogether awful (there’s a poster quote for you!). While it’s hardly the stuff of Scorsese, fans of NBC’s late Las Vegas series or Dean Martin’s classic Matt Helm spy flicks wouldn’t feel cheated watching it. With a soupcon of self-satire, it actually bolsters a fine tradition of bad films about our city’s often underappreciated entertainers. See for yourself …
Crazy Girls Undercover (2008)
Blowsy broad: Nikki Ziering
Shady male lead: Clive Robertson
Unlikely plot twist: Besides topless dancers doubling as software experts? How about Robertson’s poker buddy turning out to be an international arms broker threatening to blow up Vegas with a chemical bomb?
Gratuitous nudity: Are you kidding? It’s onstage, backstage, even in scenes at home. That’s the point!
Gratuitous violence: That would be the catfight between two of the dancers in their secret underground spy lair.
Gratuitous SFX: Almost more than the gratuitous nudity (which, honestly, is a problem).
Memorable quotes: “I’m short a Crazy Girl.”
Redeeming quality: Between Angelina Jolie playing a CIA operative in Salt and Nikki Ziering here, we’ll expect recruitment to peak in coming months.
Trivia: Crazy Girls producer Norbert Aleman supposedly wrote the screenplay himself, basing it on his previous life as a soldier of fortune. No, honestly.
Blowsy broad: Elizabeth Berkley
Shady male lead: Kyle MacLachlan
Unlikely plot twist: Nomi (Berkley) meets principal dancer Cristal Connors (Gina Gershon) while working in a strip club, and is encouraged to audition for a legitimate Strip revue. Uh-huh.
Gratuitous nudity: According to IMDB, Berkley is starkers for 20 minutes of screen time—every one of them vital to her character development.
Gratuitous violence: Berkley brandishes a stiletto with extreme prejudice … and those marbles are truly sadistic.
Gratuitous SFX: Who can forget those electric palm trees over MacLachlan’s pool?
Memorable quotes: “Take a look at these tits—what are these, watermelons?”; “Who wants to see her snatch?”; “Must be weird not having anybody come on you.”
Redeeming quality: Established Gina Gershon’s ongoing cred as a raving bisexual.
Trivia: Director Paul Verhoeven was the first filmmaker ever to appear in person at the annual Razzie awards to accept his wins for Worst Director and Worst Picture of the year. Other actresses who auditioned to play Nomi included Charlize Theron and Jenny McCarthy.
Dance Or Die (1988)
Blowsy broad: Rebecca Barrington
Shady male lead: Roy Kieffer (actually, he’s more whiny than shady)
Unlikely plot twist: Kieffer’s psychic friend finds a missing bag of cocaine inside a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Gratuitous nudity: About 33 minutes in. Not that we’re suggesting you fast-forward.
Gratuitous violence: Really, the unredeeming ’80s fashions, post-Beverly Hills Cop music and lame attempts at humor are heart-stopping enough. But the shotgun slaughter at the backyard barbecue must be seen to be disbelieved.
Gratuitous SFX: We’d guess the cost of squibs (exploding blood packets) was the biggest line item on the film’s budget. Including actor salaries.
Memorable quotes: “I wanted to grab a funnel, stick it up my nose and vacuum up the table.”; “Don’t you think if God was interested in me, he would’ve shown up one day sooner, and not left such a mess in my swimming pool?”; “Unless you give them to me, you’re going to wake up and find your dick nailed to the floor.”
Redeeming quality: Valuable capsule of a time when you could see daylight between the buildings on the LV Strip.
Trivia: This one was actually filmed entirely in Las Vegas (including on pedestrian-unfriendly Fremont Street and many once-empty stretches of town). Shocker!
The Las Vegas Story (1952)
Blowsy broad: Jane Russell
Shady male lead: Vincent Price
Unlikely plot twist: Newlywed former singer Linda Rollins (Russell) stops in Vegas and runs right into an ex-flame, a sheriff’s lieutenant.
Gratuitous nudity: Regrettably none, but as NYT reviewer Bosley Crowther noted at the time, the film is “constantly returning to gaze upon Miss Russell’s ample form … startling at first, then funny and finally just plain monotonous and dull.”
Gratuitous violence: Do ’50s-style pistol- whippings count?
Gratuitous SFX: Not exactly, but a chase scene between a helicopter and a station wagon is rather lengthy.
Memorable quotes: From the NYT review: “One of those jukebox gambling films that gives the impression of being made up as it goes along.”
Redeeming quality: Hoagy Carmichael (Google him … sigh) singing “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” and others.
Trivia: Film producer Howard Hughes would end up rewriting the (real) Las Vegas story in a big way.