It’s back. It’s the film they should have tried to ban, one so bad that cinema audiences have been known to stage mass walk outs while those that remain wish they’d stayed at home. Yes, The Room returns to Edinburgh’s Cameo cinema on Saturday 27 March, and you really should be there.
As Ross Maclean wrote last month, “to call The Room bad is to do it a disservice. It transcends ‘bad’ to become an all-encompassing onslaught of ridiculous scripting, woeful acting, cringe-inducing sex scenes, frequent non-sequiturs, bad dubbing and over-earnest melodrama.” And he’s seen it five times.
Image courtesy The Room UK
Updated 15 February: enter the Twitter giveaway for two tickets to The Room
As Edinburgh prepares to host yet another cult film event, Ross Maclean steps into The Room…
The history of cinema is littered with self-financed personal projects and noble failures. When producer/writer/director/actor Tommy Wiseau plunged an alleged $7m into funding his debut feature, who knew it would be so awful? Or so enduringly popular?
To call The Room bad is to do it a disservice. It transcends ‘bad’ to become an all-encompassing onslaught of ridiculous scripting, woeful acting, cringe-inducing sex scenes, frequent non-sequiturs, bad dubbing and over-earnest melodrama.
Nominally a relationship drama, Wiseau himself plays Johnny, a gentle soul, betrayed by his girlfriend and best friend. If you’ve never seen or heard Wiseau, picture the result of a failed intensive breeding program between Sylvester Stallone and a Na’vi, with an indefinable accent approximating a tranquilised Arnie, dressed like a guest at a goth wedding.
It’s not hard to see why Tommy has gained a cult following – here’s a sample of what to expect:
Another cult movie event is on its way to Edinburgh, courtesy of the Jekyll & Hyde pub and Cult Fiction Movies: an evening in the company of David Hess, star of the infamous video nasty Last House on the Left on Sunday 14 March, from 6pm.
Also in attendance will be Giovanni Lombardo Radice, star of Cannibal Ferox, House on the edge of the Park (Alongside David), City of the Living Dead and many more. Finally, actress Catriona Maccoll, who starred in numerous italian horror films by the director Lucio Fulci, will be the final guest.
There will be movie showings in the crypt bar all evening with intros from Hess himself, who will be partaking in a Q&A session on the balcony section of the pub along with an opportunity to get your favourite movies signed.
The event will be brought to a close with Hess playing a live set featuring songs from the soundtrack of Last House originally composed by the actor.
As I mentioned briefly late last year in the Edinburgh Evening News, I was lucky enough to catch a performance of David Allison’s brilliant reworking of FW Murnau’s 1922 horror classic, Nosferatu – now you can too as it comes to Edinburgh’s Filmhouse on Sunday 21 February.
Allison has added his own score to the film, sitting underneath or beside the screen with an assortment of instruments and playing them live to the picture. He also throws in some sound effects and overlays the ‘voice’ of long deceased Scotswoman Emily Gerard, the person who it is thought coined the term Nosferatu in the west.
Here’s a clip to illustrate what happens on the night:
A worrying message was issued by Edinburgh’s Cameo cinema today via their Twitter feed, stating that: “It seems the poor reviews have killed Pontypool. A real shame as it’s one of the more original films out there. Creepy and humorous.”
A quick email to the cinema’s manager confirmed that audience numbers have been low in the only cinema in Edinburgh, and I believe the only one in Scotland, to be screening the film.
The reason I’d say this is worrying is that the Canadian thriller/horror, which tells of an attack on a small town by a horde of zombies, is one of the best I’ve seen this year, a film I recently gave four stars on this very blog, stating that it’s “something of a “grower”, an always entertaining little film which stays in the memory long after you’ve seen it and improves with age.”
In Friday’s Edinburgh Evening News I went on to say it’s “a claustrophobic film with an impressive central performance from McHattie…director Bruce McDonald wrings out just enough tension along with a few laughs to create a memorable horror gem.”
Following this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival I took part in a Pontypool audiocast for the Filmstalker website, where three of us gave the film a glowing review, while the site’s owner, Richard Brunton, reviewed Pontypool and said that “despite some issues it was intelligent, different, visually engaging and had some laughter in there too.”
It’s been a few years since I last enrolled on a course at the University of Edinburgh as part of their Open Studies series, but I’m tempted to head back this Autumn as the new Film, Media & Contemporary Cultures programme is announced.
Out of the 14 courses on offer from September, I have personal experience of Douglas Dougan’s Screenwriting 1: an introduction to Writing for Film and Television, which I was a part of in 2006.
Full of enthusiasm and inspiration, Douglas gives some great examples on the course, encouraging his class to look at the world around them for new ideas.
I’ve also taken a course by David Melville Wingrove, a superb tutor with an encyclopedic knowledge of film who can expound at length on everything cinema-related and who is more than happy to listen to the ramblings of his students.
David is taking the brilliantly titled Heaven, Hell and Hollywood – Sacred Imagery on Film course. He’ll be viewing such diverse genres as Biblical epics, fantasy and horror films, art, exploitation and underground classics, exploring the ‘hidden history’ linking cinema and church.
It’s been a bit quiet on here the last few days, mainly because I escaped the madness of Edinburgh over the weekend and took off to London for a double whammy of film-related fun: to hear Terry Gilliam in conversation and attend Empire magazine’s Movie-Con II.
Though I’m not planning to go into detail here about the events – though I’ll be reviewing some of the films I watched, Funny People and District 9, soon – I have covered them in a few other places.
My Terry Gilliam event review is up now on another blog, the brilliantly titled Battle Royale with Cheese, while coverage of Day One of Movie-Con is covered on my Edinburgh Evening News blog, Reel Time.
There’ll also be more in my column in this Friday’s Edinburgh Evening News, so please pick that up if you feel like it.
An email dropped into my inbox yesterday from a one-time lecturer of mine who teaches various film related courses in Edinburgh, David Melville Wingrove (no relation), all about a special event he’s co-hosting on Thursday about Dr Kenneth Anger entitled Anger Management.
Describing Anger as “Black Magic Guru, Lord of the Underground, Gay Messiah, High Priest of Hollywood Babylon & Film-maker extraordinaire!!”, David also notes that he “was a wonderfully mad American underground filmmaker (and author of the infamous Hollywood Babylon books). We’ll have lots of bizarre clips and tons of time for discussion and chat.”