Guilty pleasures no longer need to be secret. Many of us are now extremely comfortable with admitting we enjoy the odd cringey movie here, cheesy pop song there. It’s nice to meet other people who enjoy the same guilty pleasures – it creates a bond, a sort of solidarity. Hey man, I like the same crappy things as you.
We’re all familiar with the concept of the “cult classic”; films that were critically lauded, but flew under the public’s radar. Films like Fight Club, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or anything by directors David Lynch and John Waters. These films are all pretty widely loved and respected by film fans, and name-dropping any of them in conversation will probably earn you a few cool points (if you’re into that sort of thing). However, a new type of cult classic is slowly emerging – films that are just plain BAD. So bad, they’ve gone past good and back to bad again.
Written, directed, produced by and starring the ethnically-ambiguous actor Tommy Wiseau (Is he American? Is he French? Just what is going on with that accent?) The Room has got to be one of the worst films ever made. Its plot – wait, there is no plot. The acting – actually, there isn’t really any acting either. What there is instead is a world of unintentional LOLS, as you try to get to grips with endless rambling, uncompleted story arcs, uninspired script, lack of chemistry between any of the actors, and the funny feeling that The Room is nothing but an exercise in vanity for Wiseau. He does seem to fancy himself quite the Hollywood hunk. The DVD cover is just one big picture of his creepy, creepy face, his beloved Lisa is constantly reminding him how handsome he is, and everyone in the film looks up to his character Johnny as the epitome of a successful, attractive man. Reminder: Wiseau wrote the script himself.
A particularly brilliant scene contains an exchange between Johnny and his best friend Mark, just after Johnny is accused by his wife Lisa of domestic violence, one of the many senseless subplots. Emerging out on to the roof of his building, he says the immortal line: “I did nat hit her. I did NAT. Oh hai Mahk. How is your sex life?” Just Youtube that scene. You will thank me. If you are interested in saying hai to Mahk yourself and watching the masterpiece that is The Room with some other like-minded individuls, there is a screening every month at the Sugar Club in Dublin. All together now: “YOU ARE TEARING ME APAHT LISA!”
Hey, do you remember Jessie Spano, the smart one from Saved By The Bell? Wanna see her naked? Well you can in Showgirls, the saucy 1995 drama (drama, they say, but we all know that it’s really a comedy.) Following the lives and loves of – yep, you guessed it – Las Vegas showgirls, the film was critically lambasted for its shallow plot, gratuitous nudity and hopeless acting, and now enjoys a cult following just like The Room. If you are looking for the best worst sex scene in any movie ever, Showgirls has it – it involves Jessie Spano and Kyle MacLachlan (better known as Agent Dale Cooper/Orson Hodge) in a swimming pool, with lots of splashing at a “certain” moment. Showgirls won a record breaking seven Razzies and most of its stars now openly denounce the picture, but Elizabeth Berkley is glad that the film is now getting the recognition (ahem) it deserves: “It’s campy and fun, and I love that it’s finally been embraced…I mean it’s funny how a lot of movies that have been bashed just die on a video shelf and you never hear about them again. Wow – not this. This is now one of the top ten grossing films for MGM of all time. So, go figure.” I can find no Showgirls screenings in Dublin as of this moment, but maybe one passionate Showgirls fan will step up to the plate. If you’re out there, please – Dublin needs Showgirls.
I for one am happy with this movement towards total honesty about guilty pleasures. It means I am not ashamed to admit to watching the Antiques Roadshow and enjoying it. Phew! That felt good.