"The Room" A Special Rifftrax Live Edition (Tribeca Film Festival)

I know you are all avid horror fans and this installment may be a break from what is normally featured on Nightmarish Conjurings but I assure you there is no movie more horrifying than The Room.  Tommy Wiseau’s attempt at filmmaking will leave you feeling bewildered, nauseated and may possibly make you never want to have sex again.  But this isn’t just about The Room. This is about 3 brave men who with no thought for their own sanity or well being set out to make The Room bearable and even enjoyable to watch and believe me, that is no mean feat.  This is also about a magical night where I finally got to meet the guys who have been making me laugh since the early 90s.

For those of you who have never heard of Rifftrax, let me first give a brief explanation.  Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy, best known from the amazingly funny show Mystery Science Theater 3000, are still riffing bad and sometimes good movies.  On their website www.rifftrax.com, you can download audio commentaries that can be synced up and played over movies. I own a ton of commentaries including all of the Harry Potters, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Avengers, and so many more.  For all you horror fans, check out the Rifftrax for The Grudge, Jaws, House on Haunted Hill and the original Night of the Living Dead. 

Mike, Bill, and Kevin also offer Rifftrax Live events several times a year which are usually filmed at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville and broadcast to theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada.  The first ever Rifftrax Live was in 2009 where the guys riffed the scifi/zombie cult classic, Plan 9 from Outer Space. (I only call this movie a classic because creepykingdom (James Carter) happens to be a huge fan).  The event also featured the guys performing the zombie power ballad, Re: Your Brains, with Jonathan Coulton.

On Friday, April 17th, Shannon and I set off on an adventure to go to the Tribeca Film Festival to see Mike, Bill, and Kevin do what they do best - poke fun at a terrible movie.  Since I am a huge Rifftrax nerd, Shannon and I got to SVA two and a half hours early and were the third and fourth people in line.  Since Nightmarish Conjurings is so baller, Shannon and I got to meet Mike, Bill, and Kevin on the red carpet.  Personally, I went into true fangirl mode and forgot how to speak or operate my limbs.  Thank God Shannon is a professional and handled everything like the badass she is.  The guys were incredibly humble and gracious.  They let us get a couple pics and of course I had to ask Kevin if I could hug him.  It was magical.  But I digress… I have to talk about The Room.

The Room was written, produced, and directed by Tommy Wiseau, who for some reason wanted the world to see his strangely sinewy ass.  This movie was so segmented and the dialogue was so stilted that there were many moments when Shannon and I just looked at each other in disbelief trying to figure out what they could possibly have been trying to accomplish.  I had not read any interviews or reviews about The Room because I guess I am a masochist and wanted the experience to be fresh.  The movie was basically a series of badly acted clips in no particular order held together by a shit ton of establishing shots and punctuated by horrific sex scenes.  Some of the scenes appeared to be fragments of a story arc that never happened, like playing football in tuxedos, the character Pete falling down and seemingly being replaced by another actor, Mark suddenly showing up debearded (bad move btw), and Lisa’s mom matter-of-factly mentioning she has cancer.  Other scenes appeared to be different versions of the same thing.  Sex scenes are two for the price of one in this movie and pretty much back to back.  I think Tommy Wiseau filmed two versions of each sex scene but then screwed up somewhere during filming and had to salvage things during editing so we would up with both versions in the final product.  But why am I trying to make sense out of the senseless?  This movie only had one redeeming quality in the end…the city of San Francisco.  He should’ve cut out the entire sorry excuse of a storyline and just made a travel video because the establishing shots were actually quite nice.

Luckily, the guys from Rifftrax made The Room an entertaining experience.  Mike, Bill, and Kevin used their considerable wit and comedic talent to trash the most ridiculous parts of this movie.  Let’s face it, they had a lot to work with.  I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say there were riffs about strategically placed penises, Tommy Wiseau’s body looking like a certain mean product (and rightfully so), and there was an amazing sketch where Bill and Mike got intimate.  I’m used to seeing the regular live events so I was delighted when the guys dropped f-bombs (welcome back to the East Coast, Bill) and made a couple of timely comments about some people in the news that got some oohhhh’s from the audience.  All in all, they were amazing as usual and my head hurt from laughing so hard. 

The guys also did a cheerful little short called “Live and Learn” which is an old PSA about the terrible things that can happen to children if they leave the safety of their own bedroom.  There were kids getting maimed left and right, evil little douchebags engaging in questionable behavior, and a beleaguered hospital staff that had to handle all of the mutilated kids that were pouring through their doors.  Rifftrax shorts are always a treat before the full length movie and are sometimes even funnier than the main event. 

If you did not get a chance to see the guys at Tribeca, don’t despair.  You too can experience the madness for yourself as Rifftrax Live - The Room is broadcast to theaters nationwide on May 6th with an encore on May 12th.  Go see it with someone you love… or hate… either works. 

On a personal note, I just have to throw in one more thing.  I’d like to thank Shannon for getting us in to meet the guys from Rifftrax and then letting me do the review on her website.  Meeting Mike, Bill, and Kevin was really a dream come true for me.  I have loved their work for over 20 years and always wanted to meet them.  I was so afraid they would be aloof jerks and my vision of them would be shattered forever but nothing could’ve been further from the truth.  They were extremely nice, normal, down-to-earth guys.  I had a little script in my mind of what I would say to them if I ever met them at a convention or event but I chickened out so I am sharing it with all of you.  As with most human beings on this planet, I have been through some really tough times in my life.  I also have a rewarding but emotionally draining job (I’m a Special Ed teacher).  Through the toughest times I would go home, sink down onto my couch like a zombie and throw on Rifftrax or MST3K to take my mind off things.  I still do.  It may sound corny or stalkerish but not only did the guys make me laugh, their voices were also so comfortingly familiar that I felt like they were my friends helping me get through it all.  If I had the nerve, I would’ve told Mike, Bill, and Kevin how much they have meant to me throughout the years and how much they have touched the lives of so many of their fans.  I love those guys.

Thank you for reading this obvious love letter to Rifftrax.  I hope you will all check out The Room in May.  Nightmarish Conjurings will now go back to its regularly scheduled horrorific mayhem.

Faith Sanders