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“Everyone Betray Me!”: A Primer on “The Room”

“Everyone Betray Me!”: A Primer on “The Room” (photo)

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Seated in front of a mantle upon which rests a football, a basketball, a bouquet of roses and a poster of his face, a man with a mysterious accent speaks about a movie. “Everything you see and experience was done meticulously with meticulous planning and with a lot of preparation,” he says before adding, “This is the finished product,” in case that was not made clear by the film itself.

The man is Tommy Wiseau. His film is called “The Room,” which Wiseau wrote, directed, starred in, produced and executive produced (he receives on screen credit for both producing titles). No one knows where he or his accent comes from; Wiseau gives interviews, but is notoriously stingy with details about his personal life. Like the Coneheads, he claims a vague past in France. Like the Coneheads, his accent is most certainly not French. When Wiseau speaks in “The Room,” he sounds like Borat trying to do an impression of Christopher Walken playing a mental patient.

Wiseau’s film, made on a $6 million budget (that also included marketing costs) and shot simultaneously on both 35mm and HD (“I was confused about these two formats,” the director explains) opened in Los Angeles in 2003 to nonexistent business and disastrous reviews. But the few who saw it loved it, and the legend of the strange little film about a love triangle between a dim-witted banker (Wiseau), an unfaithful layabout (Juliette Danielle), and his himbo best friend (Greg Sestero) began to spread. Soon, Wiseau was encouraged to try the film as a midnight feature at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood. It worked, and a cult began to grow. Now, after six years of successful monthly screenings in L.A., the film is hitting the road. After a midnight screening in New York sold out weeks in advance, the Village East had to add a second, and later a third screening to accommodate demand. Those sold out as well.

If you were shut out at the Village East — like myself — or the film hasn’t yet come to your hometown, you can still host your own “The Room” party. The film is available on Amazon (the DVD includes the aforementioned interview where Wiseau talks meticulously about his meticulousness) and the following minute-by-minute viewer’s guide is humbly submitted to lead you through your journey.

After a long day at the office, Johnny (Wiseau) returns home and gives his fiancé Lisa (Danielle) a sexy new red dress. Their foreplay is interrupted by Denny (Philip Haldiman), their teenage neighbor and Johnny’s quasi-adoptive son, who barges into the apartment unannounced and refuses to leave. When Johnny and Lisa head upstairs to their bedroom, Denny refuses to take the hint. He follows, jumps onto their bed and announces, with a little too much enthusiasm, “I just like to watch you guys!” Instead of recoiling appropriately in horror, Johnny and Lisa laugh and start a pillow fight. Incredibly, this is only the third creepiest moment in “The Room.”

Once Denny finally exits, Johnny and Lisa have sex. Like all of “The Room”‘s numerous sex scenes, it is a gauzy affair scored to a nondescript slow jam, with lots of slo-mo thrusting and showers of rose petals. Several shots come from the perspective of a water sculpture near Johnny and Lisa’s bed, with water trickling down in front of the lens so that the camera looks like it’s been placed inside of a toilet. Listen closely around the 7:42 mark for a weirdly cartoonish kissing sound effect of the kind you’d expect to hear in a “Merrie Melodies” cartoon when Bugs kisses Elmer Fudd. If you meet Wiseau, do not refer to this as a sex scene. Speaking with LAist, he declared “It’s a love scene. That’s what I call it.”

Though she appeared entirely happy whilst making sweet, sweet love to Johnny, the two-faced Lisa unburdens herself to her mother Claudette (Carolyn Minnott) one scene later, insisting that their relationship makes her miserable. Claudette urges Lisa to remain with Johnny anyway because he can provide her with financial security. Later in the film, Claudette will dramatically announce she is dying of breast cancer and Lisa dismissively insists she is fine. I guess Lisa was right, because the issue is dropped and never brought up again.

As Lisa calls Mark (Greg Sestero), Johnny’s hunky best friend and her secret paramour, the camera lingers on a framed picture of a spoon. “The Room” cultists have become obsessed with the spoon picture, and throw plastic spoons, “Rocky Horror”-style, whenever it appears onscreen. The spoon picture appears inside Johnny and Lisa’s living room, the film’s most frequent setting. But is this room the room? On the DVD, Wiseau ducks the question. Wherever the definitive room is, he says, is “a special place, a private place, a place where you can be safe. And it’s not ‘a’ room but it’s ‘the‘ room!” I have no idea what this means.

If you want your “Room” party catered authentically, you can order Johnny’s favorite pizza, as revealed in this scene. He likes half Canadian bacon with pineapple, half artichoke and pesto, light on the cheese. Johnny is so delighted when he learns Lisa has already ordered the pizza he declares, “You think about everything!” Curiously, when the pizza arrives, it looks suspiciously like a regular pie. Way to go, prop department.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.