The Room, widely considered to be the worst movie ever made, continues to pack them in
Author Aidan Ryan Illustration Luci Gutiérrez
SCOTLAND – It’s been more than a decade since the romantic drama The Room flopped so hard in cinemas across America that it earned the title “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Horribly acted, dreadfully scripted and nonsensically plotted, the film cost $6 million to make but took in only $1,900 at the box office after its 2003 release. Despite its epic failure, or, really, because of it, The Room has since developed a cult following. Across the world, Rocky Horror–style screenings are attended by fans who follow a set of conventions, such as shouting epithets at the character Lisa after she betrays her fiancé Johnny, or clapping, off-beat, during the R&B jams that accompany the lovemaking scenes.
Nevertheless, the film’s director and star, Tommy Wiseau, takes the stage tonight at Edinburgh’s storied Cameo cinema for a pre-screening Q&A about The Room with the triumphant swagger of an Orson Welles (who, coincidentally, visited the same theater some 60 years ago). Wiseau has long black hair, a waxy complexion and a vaguely Austrian accent. He is rarely seen without his sunglasses and has never revealed his age. An audience member asks why there is a picture of a mouse dancing across the screen. “OK, I see—you’re a politician,” the filmmaker replies. “Next question, move on.”
The exchange is greeted with roars of delight. As everyone here knows, they have just been treated to a true Wiseau-ism, as the, ahem, auteur is known for speaking almost entirely in non sequiturs, a propensity that is also evident in The Room.
In the Cameo lobby after the screening, fans mill about carrying Wiseau-branded hoodies and bobble-head dolls. “This,” says one college-age kid, “was the best night of my life.” Meanwhile, an older man who is struggling to make his way to a showing of Selma loses his temper. “Who is this guy?” Before anyone can answer, Wiseau reaches into his jeans and pulls out the yellow waistband of his briefs, which is marked with block lettering: “TOMMY WISEAU.”