Sunday, October 5, 2014

Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven (Rena Riffel, 2011)

Slip on the tightest, whitest body stocking you can find, and get ready to thrust your crotch skyward, because my shapely ass (it's surprisingly symmetrical) is about to watch me some Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven. Wait, what's that? You say I already watched it?!? Nooooo! Someone, quick, inject this film back into my bloodstream, I don't what its campy goodness ever to leave my body. Personally, if I was going to make a sequel to Showgirls, the trash masterpiece that has been stupefying audiences since it sashayed its way into multiplexes back in the mid-1990s, I would have gone with "Showgirls 2: Revenge of the Versace Saleswoman" (Possible taglines: "Payback's a bitch, so is working on commission" or "It does suck"). However, my second choice would have definitely been a film about the euphoric ups and depressing downs of Rena Riffel's Penny Slot (a.k.a. Hope), the wide-eyed, perpetually confused stripper with the blonde bob haircut from the first film. And this, as you can clearly see, is what we ended up getting.
  

Still rocking a blonde bob like nobody's business, Miss Slot's dream of becoming a dancer is slowly slipping from her leggy grasp. Maybe if she didn't insist on grasping things with her legs, she would have an easier time fulfilling her dream. Am I right? But seriously, whoever was in-charge of directing this epic tale about fame, fortune, cremation jewelry, snuff films, bubbles, petroleum jelly, legwarmers and milfs eating hot dogs is clearly obsessed with Rena Riffel's gorgeous gams, as they're on display in almost every scene.


Come again? You're fucking kidding me? It has just come to my attention that Rena Riffel wrote and directed this film. And not only that, she apparently came up with the idea back in 1995. Meaning, this film has been gestating inside Rena Riffel's moss-laden noodle factory for nearly a quarter of a century.


I know, a quarter of a century is supposed to denote a twenty-five year period, and this film has obviously not been gestating inside Rena Riffel's brain for that long. But what can I say, I like to exaggerate.


Anyway, now that I know Rena Riffel was the one who wrote and directed this loopy two and a half hour extravaganza, I no longer view her as just some chick with a great pair of legs. I view her the same way I view Jean-Luc Godard, Béla Tarr, Abbas Kiarostami and Andrei Tarkovsky. Hold up, I don't like that list of names at all.


Let me try that again: I now view Rena Riffel the same way I view Herschel Gordon Lewis, Jess Franco, John Waters and Stephan Sayadian. In other words, I view her as an auteur with their own unique vision, and someone to be taken seriously as an artist.


"The car has a boot on it, and I don't mean thigh-highs." And with that line, we're introduced to the brilliant mind of Penny Slot (Rena Riffel), a dancer who, like I said, is still struggling to make ends meet in Las Vegas. Living with... her husband? Her boyfriend? Uh. Living with her male companion, Jimmy (Glenn Plummer), who, you might remember, took Penny under his wing after things with Nomi didn't work out, Penny makes a living by–you guessed it–stripping.


One day, while grinding against a pole with a giant wooden duck attached to it in a skimpy red two-piece with red fingerless gloves, Penny meets a "real movie producer." But just as Penny is starting to make progress with the "real movie producer," a fellow stripper clam-jams her with extreme prejudice. As the two strippers fight over the "real movie producer," their boss steps in and makes the strippers rub petroleum jelly on their teeth.


If the next scene, which takes place backstage of the strip club, looks strangely cinematic, well, that's because it was shot on 35mm film. While the explanation as to why this was shot on 35mm film and all the others were not isn't that interesting, it is a shame that the entire film couldn't have been shot this way, as it looks amazing.


Clearly unhappy with her station in life, Penny decides to take another shot at fame and fortune when she sees her favourite TV show, "The Stardancer," playing on a television backstage. To further illustrate her point, Penny screams: "Get me out of here!"


Donning a black skirt and a black leather jacket with leopard print flourishes (you could call it a leopard print jacket with leather flourishes, but, either way, let's try to keep things moving), Penny hitches a ride with... Oh my God! Is that who I think it is? Holy crap, it is. I'm sorry, but the guy who just picked up Penny is the same guy who picked up Nomi in the first film. You know what that mean, right? Exactly, her luggage is about to be stolen.


I don't want to disagree with you, or myself, but do you really think Jeff (Dewey Weber) is still cruising the desert picking up attractive, leather-clad chicks and then stealing their luggage? Seriously, how long can this guy keep doing this?


At any rate, when Jeff accuses Penny of being a "starfucker," she hits back at him with this witty gem: "Better to be a starfucker, than a non-starfucker." Realizing that the sting of her caustic wit is having little effect on him, Penny shoves a revolver in his face.


After things cool down a bit, Jeff informs Penny that his uncle works for The Stardancer television show. Which is, that's right, the very TV show Penny dreams of being on. When they're done engaging in gas station sexual intercourse and doing cocaine in his "million dollar Porsche" (Penny's sturdy thighs are excellent for doing cocaine off... they're so smooth and silky), Jeff tells Penny he's gotta strip poker game to go to. And just as they're about to enter the building this strip poker game is supposedly being held in, Jeff  notifies Penny that he forgot his wallet in his car.


You won't believe this, but Jeff just drove away. I don't like to admit I'm wrong, but it would seem that this was all an elaborate rouse to purloin Penny's unmentionables.


While Penny is pissed about losing her shit, the piece of shit she misses the most are her dance shoes. And she vocalizes this displeasure by yelling: "My dance shoes!!! He took my dance shoes!!! Fuck!!!!!"


The next day, Penny stumbles upon a trio of criminals. Borrowing one of their cellphones, Penny leaves a rambling message for Jimmy. One that contains this nugget: "A cougar can't change its strips" (and yes, I meant to say, "strips").


After she hangs up, Penny says, "I'll show him... I gotta pee." As she's looking for a secluded place to urinate, she says, "I'm done. D-U-N... done!" When she returns to where the criminals are, Penny's shocked to discover that Karen (Jade Paris), the one in the pink Marilyn Monroe wig, has murdered her partners in crime. Noticing Penny lurking in the bushes, Karen tries to do the same to her. Using stealth, Penny manages to outwit Karen and pushes her to the ground. I don't know if that was what she intended to do, but Penny's push causes Karen to fall on her knife, killing her instantly.


Coming to the conclusion that the authorities will probably pin all the murders on her, Penny grabs their cash, dons one of Karen's wigs, and heads for Hollywood.


Ending up a luxury hotel run by a cult called "The Seven Sisters," Penny gets a job administering beer bongs to wayward twentysomethings at a local bar. It's here that Penny meets Godhardt Brandt (Peter Stickles), a gay pimp/violinist/talent agent/Seven Sisters cult member. Introducing herself as Helga, Penny tells Godhardt all about her dreams becoming a dancer. Intrigued by the leggy go-getter, Godhardt asks Helga if she's won any international competitions. To which Helga responds: "I won Miss Budweiser." That's good enough for Godhardt, as he loves "trashy women."


Oh , and when the topic of Helga's age is brought up, Godhardt says, "Women are like bananas. They're the sweetest when they're ripe... just before they shrivel up." Charming.


If you thought having three actors from the original Showgirls was too much, a fourth appears in the form of Greg  "It's an ugly planet; a Bug planet" Travis, who's Phil character now runs a pawn shop. He can tell, by the way, that Penny is a stripper by the purse she carries and by looking at the soles of her shoes.


Here's a fun game to play, every time a character says any variation of the word "whore," feel free to stab yourself in the eye with a corkscrew. Wait, that's not exactly a "fun" game to play. Unless inflicting sixteen plus stab wounds on yourself is your idea of fun. And, yes, the word whore is used over sixteen times in this film. My favourite being when Katja Vardiova (Shelley Michelle) says, "whorely."


Who's Katja, you ask? She's only the third most important character in the Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven universe. A sort of cross between a fifty year-old version of Lindsey Lohan and Anna Thomson's hooker character from Unforgiven, Katja replaces Blanca Blanco's Mrs. Von Brausen on The Stardancer show after she's sidelined with a hip injury by a duplicitous understudy.


Get used to the sight of Katja pushing Helga away, only to make up with her in the very next scene, as this is what dominates the film for the final two hours. Their All About Eve-style relationship, which also has Mommy Dearest overtones, is fraught with drama.


I would have loved to have said their relationship had Dr. Caligari-style overtones as well. But Katja only says "Chinchilla" twice. If she had said "Chinchilla" a third time that would have been a different story all-together.


In a weird twist, I was all set to criticize the shoddy nature of the show "Stardancer." But then a character says something to effect of "I recognized her from that terrible dance show... The Stardancer." The fact that others think it's terrible undercut my criticism in a heartbeat.


Damn, is this review still going? What I should have done was split my review of Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven into two parts, as there's still an hours worth of campy nonsense to go.


Unbeknownst to her, Helga/Penny is now working as a high-end escort. I know, how does one not know they're an escort? Well, to be fair, Penny is an idiot. Or is she? Maybe she's like a possum, she's just playing dumb.


You could argue that a fifth character from the original Showgirls shows up when Penny is seen wearing Nomi's black Versace dress, but let's not doing anything rash.


A masked television producer says: "Why stand on ceremony," just as a three-way is about to commence. To which a bewildered and lingerie-clad Helga responds: "Why would anyone stand on celery?" Yes! I love this movie, as it's chock-full of dialogue like this.


If you're wondering who the third member of this three-way is, it's a lingerie-clad Blanca Blanco. And if you remember, her Mrs. Von Brausen broke her hip. And get this, she walks with a cane. Is there anything sexier than a woman in black stockings who walks with the aid of a cane? What's that? Huh. I'm being told that there are lots of things sexier than the sight of a woman in black stockings who walks with the aid of a cane. Weird.


Anyway, let's wrap this puppy up, shall we? The word "epic" doesn't do this film justice, as Rena Riffel has poured every inch of her shapely soul into this camp-laden nightmare. Now, could it have been maybe an hour shorter? Perhaps. But then again, who am I to put limits on other people's genius? Ignore those who dismiss this as merely a cheap cash grab, this is obviously a labour of love, one with more whimsy and more genuine wtf moments than your average nursing home bake sale. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your wiener with your tongs, smear your teeth with petroleum jelly and bite into Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven, it's totally a movie.


2 comments:

  1. Man I have had this one on my shelf way too long to have not watched it. Time to fire this puppy up.

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    Replies
    1. Approach the shelf with extreme caution, this puppy (a.k.a. Showgirls 2) is not a toy. ;)

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