Poor movies’ strong standing

The trend of bad movies turned into cult classics – which includes films like “The Room” and “Troll 2” – has spread across the Tampa Bay area this month.

On Sunday at 8 p.m., St. Petersburg’s American Stage Theatre Company will host a screening of “The Room” – the first movie ever shown on the Raymond James Theatre’s stage. Tickets are “pay what you can at the door,” although the theater’s website recommends somewhere in between $5 and $15.

Called “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of bad movies” in an Entertainment Weekly article, “The Room” has gained notoriety for its story about an emotional banker’s struggle with his girlfriend’s infidelity.

American Stage Theatre public relations director Andy Orrell said “The Room” is a particularly terrible cult film because of its over-the-top acting, poorly dubbed voiceovers and utter sincerity.

“It’s one of those movies where you can tell the director and producers were all very serious, and they all really thought they were making a grand epic about human experience,” Orrell said.

Despite being released seven years ago and having a current Internet Movie Database (IMDB) user score of 3.1 out of 10, “The Room” has had over 30 U.S. screenings this month, according to theroommovie.com.

The theater provides spoons, which fans are meant to throw at the screen whenever a framed photograph of silverware appears on screen. Other dedicated moviegoers dress up in tuxedos like the protagonist Johnny.

“There’s Johnny look-a-like contests, trying to be the main character,” Orrell said. “People start throwing footballs back and forth to each other and shouting at the screen. It’s very reminiscent to the old ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ experience.”

“Troll 2” earned an even lower IMDB user rating of 2.0 for its story of double-decker bologna sandwiches and vegetarian goblins – although no trolls.

Yet almost two decades after its initial release, the film has spawned enough fan screenings that it prompted a documentary this year from the film’s child star Michael Paul Stephenson.

“Best Worst Movie” documents the screenings and reconnects with the original cast – including Alabama actor-turned-dentist George Hardy and reclusive Italian director Claudio Fragasso. The documentary has previously been screened at the SXSW and New Orleans Film Festivals, and will come to Florida on Oct. 15 at Florida State University’s Student Life Center.

The original “Troll 2” film was screened Sept. 11 at Tampa Pitcher Show by Cultflicks.net, a Tampa website that centers on “bad cult movies and reviews.”

The website has screened three movies with Tampa Pitcher Show – which is located on 14416 N. Dale Mabry Highway – including gruesome Tokyo adventure “The Toxic Avenger 2” and a surreal Richard Elfman musical called “Forbidden Zone.”

Cultflicks.net writer Greg Ross-Munro said the group is choosing from a pool of cult movies for their next screening. Some of these films – like “Tromeo and Juliet,” a reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic with vomiting and hermaphrodites – belong to what Ross-Munro calls the “good bad movie” genre.

“Either it’s poorly made on purpose, or it’s poorly made due to incompetence or lack of funding or terrible acting,” Ross-Munro said. “Then it becomes so bad that it’s funny.”

However, Cultflicks.net is also considering showing “Night of the Living Dead” because of its groundbreaking zombie origins and because the film is in the public domain.

Sometimes even quality B-movies can appear locally, Ross-Munro said, citing Tampa filmmaker Marcus Koch’s gory comedy, “Rot.”

However, Russ-Monro said an appeal still remains in watching a well-known “good bad movie” projected on the silver screen.

“There’s something to be said about seeing movies with a group of people – and the more the merrier,” he said. “The more people you can get in laughing and drinking and screaming in front of something, it makes for a better experience.”