Ace new movie The Disaster Artist – in limited cinemas on December 1 and nationwide from December 6 – is the true story of how one man’s dream to make his cinematic masterpiece led to one of the worst films in history, and one of the biggest cult hits. In this hilarious comedy, James Franco plays Tommy Wiseau, writer, director and star of The Room. Released in 2003, the bizarre romance The Room makes little sense, features a lot of bad acting and is by no measure a technically great film. Yet there is something so unusual about it, so seductively strange and silly, that it’s become an underground sensation. It still fills cinemas around the world nearly 15 years after its initial, disastrous, release. It has become that rare thing, a cult classic, like these other once reviled, now adored movies.
Plan 9 From Outerspace (1956)
Ed Wood probably wasn’t aiming for infamy as history’s worst director, but that’s what he got. In his lifetime, Wood’s movies were almost completely ignored, with their shonky effects, terrible acting and complete lack of artistry. However, somewhere around the late ’70s people rediscovered him, delighting in the enthusiastic badness of his work. This, a zombie/alien hoot, became his best-known work and has a reputation as the world movie ever made.
People laughed at Paul Verhoeven’s movie on release. The story of a stripper (played by Elizabeth Berkley, the straight-laced Jessie from Saved By The Bell) trying to make it in the ruthless world of erotic dancing, it’s full of soap-opera plot, ludicrous dialogue and some of the campest acting you’ll ever see. Those qualities have made it one of the biggest cult hits in history, and, despite its initially poor box office performance, a big glittery hit.
Grease 2 (1982)
Grease is an established classic, turning John Travolta and Olivia Newton John into stars as they sang and danced their way through high school. The follow-up was less well received, despite the presence of a pre-fame Michelle Pfeiffer. In the decades since it’s become loved, for songs like ‘Cool Rider’ and ‘Reproduction’. Grease is the teacher’s pet, straight-A student. Grease 2 is the class misfit, who nobody’s quite sure what to do with but you sure do love its moxy.
Troll 2 (1990)
Sounds like a sequel, of course, but it’s actually nothing to do with Troll, a not-very-famous 1986 horror movie. The number 2 just gave it more of a marketing hook. The terrifying monsters at its core are vegetarian trolls who try to turn a family into plants so they can eat them. Ridiculous! And therefore ripe for cult adoration. Audiences have taken this ugly little beast of a film to their hearts and there are entire film events dedicated to its glories. One of its stars, Michael Stephenson, has even made a documentary about its production and surprise success.
With a name like that, how could it ever be anything other than a cult classic? The premise is that a cyclone has hit Los Angeles, somehow flooding it and filling it with sharks, which begin eating the rather alarmed inhabitants (including Tara Reid from American Pie and Ian Ziering from Beverly Hills 90210). Its mad plot and embrace of its own silliness made it social media sharkbait, gaining it a huge wave of ironic fans. It was successful enough that it’s spawned four sequels…so far.
The Disaster Artist is in limited cinemas on December 1 and nationwide from December 6