Cult bad film The Room set for Edinburgh Festival Fringe screenings
Tommy Wiseau's 2003 film now has cult following
This article is from 2011.
The Room is infamous as one of the worst films ever made. Yet its popularity just keeps on increasing. Ahead of debut Fringe screenings, John Darley looks at the story so far, revealing the true horror behind the ‘Citizen Kane of bad movies’
Since its release in 2003, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has continued to shake the world of bad movies. Originally met with mass walk-outs and fabulously diabolical press, Wiseau has now been classed as a pioneer (of sorts) by cult film buffs.
But who is Tommy Wiseau and what is The Room? Wiseau is a lank-haired mystery man who grew up in New Orleans, later spending some time in Europe and, rumour has it, got together the $6m required to make the film by importing leather jackets into the US.
The movie tells the story of Johnny (played by Wiseau), a successful banker with the promise of a big promotion. His future wife, Lisa, has doubts and decides to make things interesting by sleeping with Johnny’s best friend, Mark.
The plot covers everything from lies and betrayal, to grown men playing American football in tuxedos. It introduces us to an alternative, but not intentional, Lynchian dream world where coffee shops hand out free slices of cheesecake and drug dealers are automatically sent to prison without questioning or trial. Awful as all that sounds, there’s worse to come from the hammy acting, gaping plot-holes and monumentally terrible dialogue. From the Brando-esque, ‘You’re tearing me apart Lisa!’ to the classic, ‘Leave your stupid comments in your pocket’, audiences are normally found quoting the best lines before and after each showing.
Fans have also added their own Rocky Horror-style traditions by dressing up as their favourite ‘characters’ to enhance the screenings, while plastic spoons are ritualistically thrown at the screen. Meanwhile, it’s not unknown for groups of people to dash headlong to the closest bar to down a swift one before the climax of the many elongated sex scenes.
The film’s popularity shows little sign of waning. US cable channel Adult Swim airs it every April Fools’ day, and as a thank you, Wiseau appeared and guest directed an episode of Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!
With The Room on the Fringe, why not take some of Wiseau’s advice: ‘You can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself. But please don’t hurt each other.’
The Room, Assembly George Square, 0131 623 3030, 7, 14, 18, 21 Aug, 11.59pm, £8.