The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Move Over, Rocky Horror, Here Comes The Room

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 22, 2009 7:30PM

2009_6_21theroom.jpg Picture Showgirls as a chamber piece, looking like it cost about $14.99 to produce and starring a lumpy clone of Fabio. That's a close approximation of The Room. And it's coming to the Music Box this weekend.

We caught the flick on DVD earlier this year, watching it while we consumed slight soggy, lukewarm pizza and a watery vodka cranberry. The perfect accompaniments for, as someone else put it, "the Citizen Kane of bad movies.'' Its queasy combination of awkward sex scenes, wooden acting, terrible dialog and illogical continuity must be seen to be disbelieved.

Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, produced and stars in this atrocity, a ridiculously hysterical drama about infidelity among a group of friends in San Francisco. The movie was shot in LA but don't worry: stock footage pops up between every scene to remind us where we are, and a rooftop "exterior" is actually a studio set with the SF skyline digitally composited behind the action. The pervasive incompetency of the production surely has something to do with the movie's reported cost of $6 million (supposedly Wiseau shot the film in 35mm and HD simultaneously because he didn't understand the differences between the formats).

Like many terrible movies before it The Room would have probably died a quiet death, occasionally showing up on late-night cable, had fate not intervened. After a brief opening run, in April 2004 it began to screen as a midnight movie at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in Hollywood. And became a cult film royale, regularly selling out. It's been shown all over the country and popped up on Adult Swim this year as an April Fool's Day joke. In the tradition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, public screenings include lots of audience rituals, such as the Throwing of Plastic Spoons, the Tossing of the Football, and Relentless Mocking. Should you be adventurous enough, the movie's histrionic tagline offers a challenge:

Are you ready to see reflection of your life? ENTER "The Room" and leave forever changed! Be a part of history! It's a NEW GENERATION!