The Room began with a dream, and a bundle of leather jackets. Tommy Wiseau set out to tell the story of Johnny, a hapless man struggling to keep his future marriage afloat, but in the process became a story in his own right. Fourteen years later, his little indie flick has sparked a cultural movement, dozens of urban legends, an award-winning novel, and now a critically acclaimed biopic.
The Room is bad. Catastrophically bad. Bewilderingly, befuddlingly bad. It’s awful, and it rightfully has ascended (or should that be descended) from the realm of awfulness right through ‘so bad it’s good’ to something closer resembling theatre. A screening of The Room is like no other screening you’ll ever go to – but why would we limit ourselves to only ever gathering to mock one movie?
We here at ORWAV spend a fair bit of our time in the bargain bucket, scouring through the humdrum ‘missteps’ to find the really impressive failures. It isn’t glamorous work, but it’s our lot and we do it goddamn well. Now we offer five of the worst calamities ever put to celluloid, suitable for the most discerning of schadenfreude enthusiasts. These aren’t just bad films, they’re horrendous disasterpieces that lend themselves well to communal viewing and audience participation.
So saddle up, and grab your spoons.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace/ Attack of the Clones
Year of release: 1999/2002
Quotability factor: “I hate sand.”
Be ready to throw: Jar Jar Binks action figures
Badness is somewhat indefinable, but what makes The Room work as an event is far more tangible – you need a script overflowing with verbal atrocities, and a hefty dollop of visual nonsense to giggle at. Like a beach full of disgusting sand, the prequel trilogy has these in spades. From the midichlorians to the youngling genocide, there’s plenty to chew over, and chances are, you’ve already felt like throwing something at Anakin more than once.
Either of the first two movies would work, it really depends on what catches your ire – racially weird aliens? Horrendous child actors? CGI gobbledygook? Take your pick.
Year of Release: 2015
Quotability Factor: “I love dogs.”
Be ready to throw: Copies of The Theory of Everything
Sean Bean is a bee. Channing Tatum is a wolf boy. Eddie Redmayne is a screaming lizard with faulty botox. Jupiter Ascending is so off the chain it beggars belief how anyone thought any aspect of it was a good idea, let alone the Wachowskis. You can see point A – two sci-fi visionaries are keen to make the next epic space opera – but how, HOW did the creators of The Matrix make something this bizarre? Some might say the answer lies in remembering they also created the Matrix sequels, but let’s not waste time asking why, and be thankful for what we have been given – a hilariously awful movie.
Gods of Egypt
Year of Release: 2016
Quotability Factor: “I will take your place, but it won’t be sitting on some damn boat!”
Be ready to throw: Mummy Bandages (rolls of toilet paper)
What’s the recipe for a truly terrible movie? Well, there isn’t one. It’s like pornography, you know it when you see it – although both will likely have stilted acting and a bewildering plot. Despite impressing with his early work – I, Robot is great fun, product placement aside – Alex Proyas’s latest (and probably last) feature film is less divine and more dire. The Room isn’t just bad, it’s the kinda bad that makes you want to get out of your chair and throw things, and Gods of Egypt sits in a similar niche, as well as delivering on the kind of filmmaking missteps that frustrate yet delight the keen-eyed viewer.
Batman and Robin
Year of Release: 1997
Quotability Factor: “Ice to meet you!”
Be ready to throw: Cardboard batarangs
Yeah, that’ll do it.
Year of Release: 2000
Quotability Factor: “Crap-lousy ceiling!!!”
Be ready to throw: Court Subpoenas
The Room doesn’t feel like a group of individuals all failing at their little bit of the film – perhaps more than any other movie, responsibility for every facet of this bizarre film rests with its director. But what can you say? Tommy Wiseau had creative vision, it’s just that his vision – and possibly Wiseau himself – was insane. Many of the best films have this quality, an auteur’s touch, but it’s rarer in bad films, which normally reek of overworked scripts, multiple reshoots and studio interfering.
Enter Battlefield Earth. L. Ron Hubbard didn’t get to see his infamous scientology epic safely onto to silver screen before he died, although he found time to compose a soundtrack to accompany the novel. Instead, legendary Hollywood weirdo John Travolta made it his mission to get Battlefield Earth to cinemas, using all of his ‘90s Pulp Fiction juice to wrangle a motley crew of investors and producers, even reducing his fee and contributing $5 million to get it off the ground. The film of course has gone down in history as a momentous flop, and the adventures of Johnny Goodboy Tyler and his rebellion against the Psychlo super-aliens are as hilarious as they sound.
So there you have it. All of these pair well with a glass of white wine – or several – and are best enjoyed with friends. Have we missed any? Offended that the good name of Gods of Egypt has been dragged through the mud? Make sure you get in touch, but be ready to have a spoon thrown at you too.