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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Release Date: July 25th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1995

Showgirls Vinegar Syndrome Ultra Edition - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

Shy of its 30th Anniversary, Paul Verhoeven's notoriously raunchy Showgirls remains a criminally misunderstood and underrated neo-burlesque show, but it has garnered a dedicated cult following over the decades and even grown into a cultural phenomenon. The sleazy cult classic tackles the big show on 4K Ultra HD as a limited edition three-disc box set, featuring a gloriously beautiful HDR10 presentation, an excellent pair of DTS-HD MA tracks and a strong selection of supplements. Courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome, this UHD edition makes for a Highly Recommended addition to the cult library with fancy packaging and excellent essays.

A VSU we've been working on for over a year, and the biggest film yet to grace the line, Paul Verhoeven's cult sensation, feast for the senses, and all around madness, SHOWGIRLS is at last coming to UHD in an edition worthy of its splendor. Featuring hours of archival interviews, BTS material, commentaries, and more, among them plentiful never before seen material. Plus we’ve added a slew of fresh interviews with cast and crew, along with critical pieces examining the production and impact of this landmark film. 
Furthermore, we’ve performed extensive exclusive restoration using the source files from Paul Verhoeven’s supervised color grade to ensure a presentation which looks exactly as intended, but without any of the digital manipulation which has notoriously plagued other releases.  

directed by: Paul Verhoeven
starring: Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon, Glenn Plummer, Robert Davi, Alan Rachins, Gina Ravera
1995 / 131 min / 2.39:1 / English 5.1 Surround + 2.0 Stereo

Additional info:

  • Region Free 4K Ultra HD / Region A Blu-ray Set
  • 4K UHD presented in High-Dynamic-Range
  • Complete extras to be announced
  • 40-page perfect bound book
  • Reversible sleeve artwork
  • English SDH subtitles

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Region Free (UHD Disc Only)
Video Resolution/Codec:
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo
English SDH
Special Features:
Release Date:
July 25th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


To borrow from Jeffrey McHale's excellent documentary You Don't Nomi, which looks at the cultural phenomenon and unexpected appreciation of Paul Verhoeven's 1995 flop, the notoriously raunchy Showgirls is, to me, a "Masterpiece of Shit." I fall squarely on the side of enjoying the erotic drama as a criminally misunderstood masterwork by a brilliant filmmaker. But at the same time, I don't deny that the melodramatic plot about aspiring showgirl performer Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) is a hilariously bad pile of garbage. And still, I want to defend that as precisely the point of Joe Eszterhas's script — an over-the-top story about the mediocre rise and fall of an individual driven purely by narcissistic fame. Yet, there's no ignoring the end result is, for most audiences, a hollow, tawdry, and detestable exploitation piece that can be difficult to watch unless viewed through the lens of "so bad, it's good."

And so, my praise for the film toes that line between applauding it as a genius work of social commentary and simply accepting it as a guilty pleasure with cringing-inducing performances. For me, its salvation comes from it being a familiar plot about stardom but coming from one of the best and most brilliant filmmakers: Paul Verhoeven. Nomi's generic fairy tale rise is a deliberately histrionic mess centered around a laughably simple "high concept" premise. Ultimately, the film is a satire on the darker, seedier side of the Hollywood industry with Las Vegas serving as its microcosmic surrogate, exposing the exploitation and objectification of women by men in powerful positions. Given the excessive amount of nudity throughout, the film also dares audiences to find what they are witnessing as remotely sexy or erotic. And this is especially true when it's in such tasteless abundance, attached to the outrageously absurd dance numbers or uncomfortably associated with some form of abuse and violence. 

The best phrase to fittingly describe Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls is as a deviously understated neo-burlesque show. The word "burlesque" functions both as the bawdy striptease feature of those old-timey variety shows and as an over-the-top parody of a more serious subject matter. The misunderstood cult classic is a brilliantly trashy neo-burlesque.


For a different take on the film, check out Josh Zyber's review of the 15th Anniversary Sinsational Edition Blu-ray HERE.

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome, Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls dances to the 4K Ultra HD stage as a deluxe three-disc Limited Edition set. Both the triple-layered UHD100 disc and a Region locked, BD50 sit comfortably on opposing sides of a center spindle while a third BD25 disc containing supplements sits on the last panel. All three are inside the standard black, eco-elite keepcase with a colorful, sturdy slipcover and reversible cover art. They are joined by a glossy, 42-page book with color photos and a trio of analytical essays providing a closer study of the film. They are all packaged together in a gorgeous magnet clasp box that features new artwork. At startup, the disc goes straight to a static menu screen with the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.

Video Review


For a second time, the sinfully entertaining trashy melodrama once again takes center stage on 4K Ultra HD. And to everyone's surprise, this fresh, new HEVC H.265 encode not only rises to the occasion but also exceeds crowd-pleasing expectations, easily surpassing and overperforming its 2020 predecessor by Capelight Pictures

Struck from an already-existing color-graded master that was approved by Paul Verhoeven, the extensive restoration effort by the folks at Vinegar Syndrome really pays off, immediately boasting sharper definition right from the start. The tiny creases in the leather jackets are discrete, the fine stitching in the elaborate costumes is clean-cut and unmistakable, and the individual hairs are distinct and razor-sharp. The lettering in the various advertisements and along buildings is always legible while the minor features in the stage productions and the Vegas architecture are highly detailed and well-defined throughout. There doesn't appear to be evidence of any DNR in sight, instantly making this edition far superior. In fact, the 2.39:1 image is stable and consistently awash in a thin layer of natural grain, giving this beloved guilty pleasure a beautiful film-like quality that fans will absolutely adore. 

What is more, the freshly-minted 4K transfer also flaunts a more restrained yet better contrast and brightness balance. Granted, compared to the German release, this edition seems a bit more subdued and not nearly as bright, but then again, this version feels more natural and accurate with cleaner, spot-on whites that never bloom or ruin the finer aspects, which are greatly appreciated during the many interior sequences and stage performances. Moreover, specular highlights are significantly tighter and crisper, supplying a realistic sheen and dazzling sparkle to the various metallic objects, the glittering sequins of costumes and the flashy stage lights. Brightness levels deliver inky, midnight blacks with impressive gradational differences between the various shades, from the various articles of clothing to the objects decorating the background, and visibility within the darkest, blackest shadows is excellent, exposing every tiny detail in the dark scenes while Vegas at night really pops.


Of most interest, similar to the contrast balance above, the HDR10 presentation also comes with what appears to be a slightly more toned-down color gamut. Don't get me wrong, the overall palette remains quite lively and energetic while Jost Vacano's flamboyant cinematography showers every scene in dynamic pastels and gaudy neons. Only, those same colors no longer feel artificial and needlessly augmented. Instead, they are richly saturated and accurately rendered with an eye-catching blend of neon greens, vividly electrifying blues and sumptuously animated reds while the orange-teal palette is more of where it should be. Topping off the improvements of this edition is the healthier, more accurate facial complexions while revealing pores, tiny wrinkles and negligible blemishes in the entire cast. 

Compared to the 2020 German 4K release, this UHD edition by Vinegar Syndrome is a far improvement over that disappointing presentation, making this the superior and much-preferred version to purchase for any fan. (HDR10 Video Rating: 88/100)

Audio Review


It is unknown at this time if the audio design received the same treatment as the video, but after doing some back-and-forth comparisons between this UHD edition, the German release and the 15th Anniversary Blu-ray, I did not detect any major or significant discernible differences between the three DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks. This is not a bad thing since the sound design has always been wildly enjoyable and engaging, and this lossless mix remains a highly entertaining fusion of tacky, garish excess and sly, low-key poignancy. When applying the receiver's Dolby Surround or DTS: Neural:X up-mixing functionality, the music nicely extends into all the channels, putting viewers right in the middle of the show, and the various atmospheric effects effortlessly pan from the fronts to the surrounds, generating a wide, spacious soundfield. Added to that, the disc also includes a DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo option.

However, it is worth noting that Vinegar Syndrome announced a problem with the 5.1 surround track, and they have implemented a replacement program. While watching the movie, I tried to locate the reported problem but couldn't really find it. After going through it a second time with a bit more vigilance, the best I could detect are a couple of sequences where the music and perhaps dialogue are just a fraction out-sync, meaning they don't perfectly align with the visuals and only for a second or two. In the moment, and while simply enjoying the show, these instances of sync issues will easily go unnoticed by most viewers. Nevertheless, the folks at Vinegar Syndrome should be commended for their efforts to rectify the issue, and when we receive a corrected copy, we will report back with the results. And not to worry, if you already purchased this set from Vinegar Syndrome, they will be automatically sending you the replacement disc so you don't have to do anything on your side of the equation. (Audio Rating: 84/100)

Special Features


For this UHD edition, producers have imported the same set of supplements from previous releases and have added a few new bonuses to the show that are worth checking out. The majority of them are contained on the third Blu-ray disc. 

UHD Disc One

  • Audio Commentary features David Schmader, dubbed "The Greatest Movie Ever Made"

Blu-ray Disc One

  • Audio Commentary features David Schmader, dubbed "The Greatest Movie Ever Made"
  • Trailer (HD, 2 min) contains the original red-band theatrical preview

Blu-ray Disc Two

  • NEW You Gotta Gamble if You’re Gonna Win (HD, 14 min) is an interview with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas
  • NEW All that Glitters: Filming Showgirls (HD, 12 min) is an interview with cinematographer Jost Vacano and lighting designer Peter Morse
  • NEW The Rhythm of Chaos (HD, 16 min) is an interview with co-editors Mark Helfrich and Mark Goldblatt
  • NEW Born to Dance (HD, 19 min) is an interview with actress Rena Riffel
  • NEW Free Lap Dance with Every Large Popcorn: The Cult of Showgirls (HD, 13 min) is an interview with Midnight Mass Podcast hosts Peaches Christ and Michael Varrati
  • More Vegas Than Vegas (HD, 24 min) is an interview with director Paul Verhoeven
  • Featurette (SD, 24 min) commences with the vintage EPK piece about the production, but it is immediately followed by a mix of BTS footage and a series of cast & crew interviews. 
  • A Showgirls Diary (SD, 11 min) shows BTS footage of an early scene with some storyboard sketches and notes.
  • Dance Tutorial (SD, 5 min) featuring the World-Famous Girls of Scores.

"Since its release in 1995, there has been a quiet debate about Paul Verhoeven's notoriously raunchy Showgirls, and for me, the erotic drama is a criminally misunderstood "Masterpiece of Shit." The plot about the mediocre rise and fall of a Las Vegas stage performer is a brilliantly trashy neo-burlesque show, and it has garnered a dedicated cult following over the years and even grown into a cultural phenomenon."

Courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome, the sleazy cult classic takes center stage on 4K Ultra HD for a second time as a three-disc box set. The 4K transfer features a surprisingly beautiful HDR10 presentation that easily exceeds and surpasses its previous UHD counterpart, and it's joined by an excellent pair of DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks in 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo. With a strong selection of supplements that includes a compelling pair of analytical essays, this UHD edition makes for a highly recommended addition to the cult library.

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about the gear used for this review.