The Tulane Hullabaloo

The Prytania Theatre celebrates cult classic “The Room” at monthly midnight showings

Promotional poster for The Room, which grossed a whopping $1,300 when it premiered in 2003.

Promotional poster for The Room, which grossed a whopping $1,300 when it premiered in 2003.

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Cult movies hold a special place in Americana, with shows like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” continually attracting rowdy crowds to midnight screenings. While “Rocky Horror” may attract people for its musical numbers and stellar costume design, other cult movies become famous due to how legendarily bad they are.

Enter, “The Room.” “The Room” is a 2003 drama constantly maligned as the worst movie of all time. Dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies,” it is a horrifically shot, poorly directed movie with some of the strangest and most stilted dialogue of all time. Still, even before James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist,” theaters could be found packed with willing participants to see “The Room.”

If the man, the myth and the movie behind Franco’s Golden Globe-winning film intrigues you, you’re in luck: The Prytania Theater does monthly midnight showings.

A midnight showing of “The Room” is an atmosphere like none other. A midnight showing is a strange frenzy of emotion. During the showing, the theater takes on an atmosphere of rabid deconstruction. The dialogue is nearly inaudible from jeers in the audience, people yelling at the characters and the retches of patrons taking shots of Scotchka, a specialty drink from the movie. The call-outs are a combination of set traditions from previous watchers, jokes made on the spot and outbursts of emotion that turmoil from the audience.

Traditions like chanting “Go! Go! Go!” as the camera tracks the Golden Gate Bridge for the third time, or yelling “You have cancer!” anytime you see Lisa’s mother are incredibly fun, but the core of the experience comes from its relaxed, ad-libbed nature. No showing is truly ever the same. Unlike “Rocky Horror,” each showing is different and audiences often pick up on different themes or trends to focus their jokes on.

The movie itself is filled with many dry scenes, though each has an unsettling air. These strange and sometimes disturbing elements are picked up by the crowd and torn to shreds in the friendliest way imaginable. No one truly hates “The Room” in the crowd.

Though it plays like an alien trying to imitate Earth movies after only seeing three made-for-TV specials, at its core it is a labor of love from the star, director, writer and producer Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau may be a seemingly laughable figure, an example of what happens when you’re ruled only by desire, but he is also man who had a dream and accomplished it. The underlying feeling at any showing is respect. The product may be laughable, but the movie is legitimately enjoyable and connects with the audience.

It may be a chore, but it’s highly recommended you watch the movie at least once before going to a screening. Having a familiarity with the movie helps, but is in no way mandatory. Once there, just enjoy yourself, shout your stupid jokes, chant with the crowd even if you don’t understand it, just let it happen – and make sure to bring as many plastic spoons as you can.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
The Prytania Theatre celebrates cult classic “The Room” at monthly midnight showings