Tommy Wiseau is a fascinating enigma of cult celebrity; known for being one of the worst directors and writers of our time. His film, The Room, went so far into cult success that it's possible Wiseau's actually made a profit-
...on the project that supposedly cost seven million dollars to make. It's with that backing of loyalists that Atom.com got Wiseau for their next big project, "The House That Drips Blood on Alex". It premiered this weekend at Comic-Con. No surprise: it's bad.
What most don't know is Tommy Wiseau had nothing to do with the creative aspects of this project. No directing, no writing. Just an acting role in a short film that borders on offensively deceptive by Atom Films.
At the premiere screening, fans jabbered in line with anticipation for a hilarious way to cap their Saturday night. While in line, a bearded man (who I would later find out was part of the production team) ran through the hallways repeatedly with a large cardboard box that said "Pizza Party". This was a prop from the film, but how were any of us to know that? How are we to celebrate an inside joke if we're not part of it?
This was the best possible crowd for Atom Films and co-producer Studio8.net to have. And when I say that, I mean it was the worst. Every line Tommy said – even something simple like "Hello" – elicited squeals of laughter as every attendee tried their best to throw out insults. I should have been able to sit back and enjoy the madness, but I had been handed a poster for the film while in line that surprised me with its listed credits. My early concerns of, "I hope these companies allow Tommy to make another crazy movie without much interference" had been replaced by "Is this even going to be an awkwardly bad movie?".
It was bad. It had horrible dialogue, bad camera movements, terrible effects, and bad acting by everyone involved (and Tommy certainly played every line with a bizarre sense of diction and understanding). Every other actor (including Tommy Greco, the host that pretended to be stabbed on an episode of "Cheaters") delivered dry lines, but knew they were in on the joke. It was the acting equivalent of taking a dive.
The problem lied in the film's presentation that it was a Tommy Wiseau joint. I wondered how many fans in the room knew the truth as they laughed along. A movie purposely trying to be bad is a much different animal than a film with aspirations of earnestness that fails miserably. The latter is why The Room was such a success. The former is what made me one of the only frustrated people in a room of laughter.
After the screening, a few actors including Tommy, the real director, Brock LaBorde (screenplay) and Jared Richard (story) ran a Q&A session. I approached the mic with a serious expression on my face. My friends sitting nearby didn't know my intentions and feared I was planning to whip my promotional Clash of the Titans shield at the panel as I had been doing at others throughout the day. Here is a retelling of the question and response:
Chad: It was a surprise to find out that Tommy neither wrote nor directed the film. I was wondering if there was going to be an effort as this gets released to the public to make sure people know this isn't Tommy's creative work. Because knowing that creates a much different sort of comedy than as if Tommy had make it. And Tommy, is there any effort on your part for your own brand identity to keep this separate?
The previously thunderous room went nearly silent. Someone in the back murmured "Elephant in the room". Here was a way too specific question amidst a line of people who were simply asking leading prompts for Tommy to respond with craziness. I doubt the silence was due to an earth-shaking revelation I had just dropped on them.
One of the creative team: Well, we had talked about that. Tommy is listed as the director on the IMDB page. We don't know who did that, but we didn't think it was a big concern. Does that answer your question?
Chad: Yeah, sure.
I returned to my seat with a thought of, "Well, I spoke my peace" and watched as the room quickly moved back into chaos as Tommy stole the show. Within minutes it was just another screening of "The Room". Fans were asking for pictures with the Pale Man and the same questions and answers came forward as they always do. It's good that attention turned to Wiseau and not the creators who really deserved very little.
Perhaps I'm reaching too deep into my comedy-nerd bag here, but something seems wrong with a film pretending to be bad as its only quality. If they had decided to subvert the normal tropes of bad horror movies and build off of that then might've had something. Instead the film was nothing more than the writers saying "Hey look! At this really bad line of dialogue! It's so bad! Isn't that funny?" I say it's not, but some will disagree. If nothing it's another showcase for Wiseau, a man who has become a bit to self-aware of his unique status to make it as fun.
Am I expecting a giant disclaimer before the movie? And a lot of people are finding out that this work is a parody. But perhaps clearing up coverage with the major press would be a sign that Atom Films and Studio8.net wanted to make a comedy, not an internet drama.
Chad Quandt a production lackey in Los Angeles and editor of pop-culture/geek-rant blog Nonstop Karate. He enjoys writing long essays justifying his manboy love of animation and videogames. His life plans center on waiting for Ben Gibbard to die a nice, peaceful death so he can scoop up Zooey Deschanel on the rebound.