Last night a friend asked me to go see the worst movie ever made. I said to myself, "But I've already seen Episode III." Well, it turns out there's two worst movies.
This one was called "The Room" and it has become kind of a cult phenomenon here in LA among industry-type hipsters. This guy, Tommy Wiseau (he of unspecified nationality -- I would say Transylvanian) self financed this film for $6 million. Never a good sign when the producer is also the writer and lead actor. Can you say "Vanity Project"?
We were advised to go to the screening drunk, so we had a few cocktails before and we entered the theatre with a bunch of other people who were there for the same reason: to mock a really bad film. When we entered the theatre, a spirited Q&A was in progress with Mr. Wiseau holding court in a surreal environment mixed with hostility and admiration. I'll say this for Mr. Wiseau, he is not someone to back down from defending his masterpiece. I guess this is the first requirement of any filmmaker.
I got the feeling that the crowd was made mostly of entertainment assistant bottom feeders who have had to sit through one too many interminable screenings of self important movies followed by too long asskissing Q&A sessions where they had to hear the same questions over and over. I mean, really, how many more times do we have to hear "What was your budget and how many days did you shoot?" This was our opportunity for payback and Tommy was game. I wish I could remember a few of the questions, but they wouldn't really make sense if you haven't seen the film. He answered all with appropriate sincerity and seemed to like the attention.
But the fun really started when the theatre went dark. From the first frame, the audience couldn't sit still or keep quiet. This was an interactive experience if there ever was one: throwing things at the screen, calling out lines of dialog and asking questions out loud. Needless to say, the movie was a trainwreck with characters coming and going so fast, you couldn't keep any of their motivations or identities straight. Basicly, we're introduced to Tommy's character, Johnny, and his girlfriend, Lisa, in what was to become a love making scene forever burned onto my soul. When I die and my life flashes before my eyes, I fear these few minutes (too many minutes as far as I'm concerned) will take up too much time having been filed away so deep in my unconscious. I'll just give you a few visual cues from the scene and you can go from there: rose petals, gauzy lace curtains and a very confusing method of lovemaking on the part of Tommy.
Soon we discover Lisa is not as in love as she lets on. In what is, like, five scenes of BLEEPing about how much she hates Tommy (to her cancer diagnosed mother, her BLEEPty best friend and her lover, Matt who is also Tommy's best friend -- a fact he mentions over 5 times.)
The bizarre scenes continue including an assault on Tommy's adopted friend, Denny by a drug dealer who we never see again as well as a scene where all the men gather wearing tuxedos and play football. Apparently, in Mr. Wiseau's America, Football is a formal affair.
The crowd didn't let up. Some brought footballs to throw during one of the many "male bonding" scenes where the tossed the ol' pigskin around. And everyone was given spoons to throw each time a framed photograph appeared on screen -- placed in the background of the apartment set. I don't know what the big deal, was. I mean, I have framed photos of all of my kitchen utensils around my house.
All in all, it was a very cathartic experience. I seriously couldn't go to sleep until my adrenaline was calmed by some Ben and Jerry's later that night. There's something very therapeutic about seeing a bad movie not just for the endorphins released by laughing my guts out. But there is also the assurance I'm given that, yes, I actually DO know something about making movie and, no, I will NEVER make a movie as bad as THE ROOM.
If you want to know more about it, check out the IMDB page. It has a lot of funny posting from fans and crew on the movie. NPR also did a spot on it and their web page has some video of some fans doing an impression of Tommy's infamous line: "LISA YOU'RE TEARING ME APART."
Tommy, I feel the same about you. Peace, my filmmaking brother. Here's hoping you get to make that epic vampire movie you've always dreamed of, if not only for the merciless late night screenings it will no doubt inspire!