This month, we’re showing ‘the Citizen Kane of bad movies’ – The Room. But why has a film that is so bad become so popular? And how, after ten years since it first came out, does it continue to sell out around the world?
Last year, co-star (and producer) Greg Sestero wrote a book called The Disaster Artist detailing how The Room came to be. In his hilarious book (which we highly recommend you get), Greg details how he met Tommy Wiseau at an acting school and was draw to the man’s bizarre accent (is he Austrian? Eastern European? No one actually knows…), his ‘unique’ style of acting and his passion for films. The two soon became friends, resulting in Wiseau’s last-second offer to Sestero of costarring with him in The Room, a movie Wiseau wrote and planned to finance, produce, and direct—in the parking lot of a Hollywood equipment-rental shop.
The shoot was a circus. Apparently, Wiseau spent $6 million of his own money on his film, opting to buy equipment outright, rather than hire it, which is the industry norm. However over eight months, which saw crew and assorted actors frequently fired, The Room came to life… like some sort of resurrected corpse.
Like a resurrected corpse, it made no sense, as Tommy insisted everyone stick to the words that he had originally written.
Despite the concerns of all the cast and crew, Wiseau rented a Hollywood billboard featuring his alarming headshot and staged a red carpet premiere. The Room made $1800 at the box office and closed after two weeks. One reviewer said that watching The Room was like “getting stabbed in the head”.
But that was not the end…
Of the few people that saw the film, a handful realised the magnitude of the film’s unintentional hilarity. This prompted a series of midnight screenings in and around Los Angeles that allowed The Room to solidify its reputation as a cinematic experience, although not in the way Wiseau intended.
Before long, The Room had worldwide cult appeal and was being shown in cinemas all around the world, with audience participation on a par with The Rocky Horror Show.
For our final screening of 2013, we pulled out all the stops with a fantastic venue in the heart of Bristol, a knowledgeable and witty guest speaker and a film that features chauvinistic robots, The Hoff in a laser beam-firing monster mask and some of the best/worst dialogue this side of the Haunted Stars.
Since discovering that Bristol Planetarium had the facilities to host a screening (not to mention weddings should you be interested), Tim and I have been racking our brains for the perfect film to show there. Something space-related obviously, but something that would entertain the 100 or so people that we could accommodate.
With its perfect blend of on-the-nose dialogue, rubbish FX, a mixture of over-the-top (take a bow, Joe Spinell) and underplayed (Christopher Plummer) acting and the slowest walking ever seen on screen, it was perfect – and the city of Bristol seemed to agree.
Tickets sold out in 8 days due to the unprecedented demand and people were pleading with us to do two showings. Unfortunately, we opted to just do the one, but after the wonderful service we received from Sarah Gwynne and the staff of At-Bristol, we can guarantee that we’ll be back in the future.
The night itself was a roaring success. Dr. Mark Bould opened the proceedings with some wonderful insight into Italian sci-fi cinema and the production of StarCrash. He also managed to expertly deal with some heckling from an unexpected source – a very enthusiastic 7 year old, whose recall of cinematic trivia made Tim and I doubt our own extensive knowledge.
The film itself hit all the right spots. Whether it was the awkwardly long tracking shots of the poorly made models, Joe Spinell strutting around the sets shouting “Kill! KILL! KILL!!” or the bizarre sidekicks that were Elle and Akton, there was something that simultaneously produced laughter and disbelief for everyone.
If you missed our screening last night, for your pleasure below is one of the great, no – the GREATEST, scene from StarCrash. Enjoy, and we hope to see you in 2014 for Miami Connection.
Tim also promises not to cough all the way through the next screening. His recent bout with man flu unfortunately left him unable to thank you all for coming, but he will return! Just like Elle…
As well as using social media to spread the word of our screenings, we’ve also been reaching out to and receiving a wave of good will from some of Bristol’s biggest magazines, websites and radio stations.
When we first started the Bristol Bad Film Club, our first problem was – how do we let people know that we even exist? In this day and age, the answer is generally social media, so our first step was setting up a Facebook and Twitter account.
This was all well and good, but we soon realised that we wanted to let people that might not be online know about who we are and what we were attempting to do. As one of us is an online editor, we wrote a series of press releases which we then sent out to the likes of the Bristol Post, Guide 2 Bristol and Bristol 24/7. Anything to get a couple of column inches or a passing mention.
The response we got was beyond anything we ever hoped for.
The Bristol Post put us on the cover on their weekend magazine and both Guide 2 Bristol and Bristol 24/7 ran articles on us. All of them were instrumental in building buzz for our first screening.
Now, ahead of our fourth (Starcrash), we’ve even been getting requests for interviews.
This month, co-founder Tim was featured in the ‘Bristol Lives’ section of Clifton Life Magazine, while the both of us were interviewed for Bristol’s biggest monthly magazine – Bristol Magazine (see below for both interviews).
We’ve also been invited numerous times on to BBC Radio Bristol to plug our shows and are very grateful to Laura Rawlings, Phil Hammond and Martin Evans for having us on.