“What Schmader does is crystallize the consistency of the movie's badness. He brings an organization to your viewing, a recognition that even seemingly innocuous moments are part of an intricate pattern of badness that affects every aspect of the film. It's marvelous.”
In 1999, Schmader hosted a one-off screening of Paul Verhoeven's terrible stripper drama Showgirls at Seattle's Northwest Film Forum. Soon he was touring his annotated screening of Showgirls around the country, eventually drawing a response from Showgirls producer MGM, who did not issue the expected "cease and desist" order but instead invited Schmader to record his commentary for the special-edition Showgirls DVD, which was released to acclaim in 2004 and remains a top-seller. Meanwhile, Schmader’s live annotated screenings continue to play to sold-out houses across the country, with regular engagements at Seattle's Triple Door nightclub and Austin's Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
“MGM hit the jackpot with writer David Schmader, famous for hosting ‘annotated’ Showgirls screenings in Seattle. He knows precisely why this movie is sublime: ‘Showgirls triumphs in that every single person involved in the making of the film is making the worst possible decision at every possible moment.’ Grade: A.”
“David Schmader contributes one of the best commentaries I've ever heard. In it he continually bashes the film, the script, the actors, the concepts and even the jokes, and it's funny as hell. He truly makes this really bad film a horribly enjoyable mess.”
—San Francisco Gate
“Schmader’s commentary is so good you can’t turn it off.”
“Schmader's irresistibly good-natured and funny commentary stands out as the DVD’s enduring highlight.”
“I laughed so hard my ribs still ache.”
— The Independent UK
Annotated Screenings and Video Essays
From Bad to Worse: A Study of Cinematic Terribleness
A five-week series at Seattle's Central Cinema in 2005, featuring annotated screenings of the Scientology action flick Battlefield Earth, the Village People musical Can't Stop the Music, Bill Cosby's Leonard Part 6, the Dolly Parton/Sylvester Stallone musical Rhinestone, and Gigli.
Madonna on Film
A five-week series at Seattle's Central Cinema in 2006, devoted to the lifetime of poor acting choices made by one of history's greatest pop performers and featuring screenings of Shanghai Surprise, Who's That Girl, Body of Evidence, Swept Away, and The Next Best Thing.
Showgirls for Boys
An annotated screening of the 1989 testosterone parade starring Patrick Swayze, produced at both the Patrick Swayze. Triple Door nightclub in Seattle and the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin in 2015.
The Filmy Quill:
Writers and Writing on Film
A live video essay surveying cinematic depictions of writers and writing, present at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle as part of the 2016 APRiL Literary Festival.