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"The Room" Is Really So Bad It's Good

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You may think you’ve seen bad movies but you haven’t seen anything quite as bad as “The Room." Listen to my radio feature about how a film’s badness is turning it into a cult hit on the midnight movie circuit. This is like a car crash that you cannot avoid looking at.

Show transcript

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando says you may think you’ve seen bad movies but you haven’t seen anything quite as breathtakingly bad as “The Room.” But she explains that the film’s badness is precisely what’s turning it into a cult hit on the midnight movie circuit.

CLIP Denny: Still going to the movie tonight? What kind of movie will we see?
Johnny: Ah Denny don’t plan too much it might not come out right.

That’s an understatement. Nothing comes out right in “The Room.” But then that’s part of its charm says Ian Forbes, founder and senior editor of soberingconclusion.com.

0021 IAN FORBES: It is possibly the worst film ever made but the most fun you will ever see in a theater.

And that’s the conundrum of “The Room.” It’s so very bad that it becomes riveting.

0153 PHIL LUQUE: I went into it thinking there’s no way this film is as bad as other films I’ve seen… but this one took the cake.

PHIL LUQUE; Oh my god? Where did the 7 million go I want a federal investigation.

That’s Phil Luque of the San Diego Asian Film Foundation. He’s seeing “The Room” for the first time on DVD with Forbes as his guide.

IAN FORBES: Wait for it…wait for it…

0236 IAN FORBES It’s funny on your own but when you get someone else there especially someone who’s seen it before that can walk you through the pitfalls of the film and point out every single mistake that’s out there which is hard to do because they are coming at you at lightening speed.

CLIP

In the film, Tommy Wiseau plays Johnny, a man whose girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend.

0446 PHIL It’s interesting he comes in and he has this gait about him and he saunters in and oozes creepiness, who’s this guy with long hair and the suit, then he’s talking

CLIP Johnny: I’m tired, I’m wasted, I love you.

“The Room” is the creation of actor-writer-director-producer Tommy Wiseau. The film was originally released in 2003. At that time, some audience members walked out but those who stayed began interacting with the film. This inspired Wiseau to bring the film back for midnight runs. Now “The Room” has developed a cult following, and Wiseau has tried to repackage it to cash in on the unexpected popularity.

TRAILER The best movie of the year… experience this quirky new black comedy… a film with the passion of Tenessee Williams…

1208 IAN FORBES: Those quotes they never get attributed to anybody they’re just blind quotes saying best comedy of the year, anybody could have said it.
PHIL LUQUE: Plus you know better, watching the trailer and it says it’s a riot and the scenes do not denote riot they do not scream comedy. “You’re tearing me apart Lisa.” Those two don’t go together, that’s usually a dramatic thing.
IAN The riot happens when watching it with a group and you’re busting a gut laughing.

And the midnight shows are a riot so be prepared to miss dialogue as the crowd hurls insults at the screen and laughter drowns out the movie.

1541 IAN FORBES: My first time I was I don’t know if I wanted to deal with this much heckling. And then very quickly I was like no, no, no it needs more heckling.

Wiseau has been known to attend some of the midnight screenings around the country. He seems happy that his film has finally found an audience even though it’s an audience that’s embracing his films for all its faults. Fans of “The Room” enjoy laughing at the shoddy greenscreen, the astonishingly self-indulgent and uncomfortable sex scenes, and the mind-bogglingly bad dialogue. After attending a midnight screening last month, Forbes took such instant delight in the film’s badness that he immediately bought the DVD.

0845 IAN FORBES: If you really enjoy this film and you should if can get the DVD you need to watch the interview with director Tommy Wiseau it’s possibly the best interview ever made in the universe.

CLIP Interviewer: Is the room for everyone?
Wiseau: I recommend for all Americans to see the room at theaters and at least twice because you cannot get it the first time you may not like it but you will learn something.

If you plan to go for the first time, here’s a little insider info. Bring a box of plastic spoons and then look for a framed photo of a spoon on a table. Each time you see it, throws spoons as well as insults at the screen. Trust me, badness has never been this good.

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Cinema Junkie

Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place