Found on the Fringes


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Operating under his personal thespian maxim, "You can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself, but please don't hurt each other," Tommy Wiseau thought he had created a film that spoke volumes of universal truths. But since its 2003 premiere, his unintentionally hilarious melodrama "The Room" unexpectedly acquired an irony-guzzling fanbase eager for another dose of so-bad-they're-good onscreen antics.

Still licking his fingers from that deliciously lucky break into the limelight, Wiseau seems pleased to deliver a comeback, embracing the comedic persona perhaps imposed by the public's response to his cinematic debut. Lucky for this presumably francophone writer-director-producer-leading-man, his devastatingly unrealistic attempt at a drama was quickly embraced by a rising generation of Americans for whom sarcasm is practically a native language.

At this coming Saturday's Comic-Con in San Diego, Wiseau will premiere "The House That Drips Blood on Alex," his first horror-comedy written and produced by in conjunction with Comedy Central's Atom TV. But judging by his relentlessly self-important attitude in regard to "The Room," it's hard to say how much of the joke Wiseau actually gets.

"Find me one person in the world that would be honest and say 'I really hate your movie,' you will not find it," Wiseau told the movie blog /Film at one of his film's widely attended midnight screenings last spring. "We are releasing the movie overseas, like for example UK, Canada, New Zealand, whatever, and we have the same reaction. So I'm now very sure about it."

"The Room" made Wiseau a star alright, but perhaps in more ways than he wishes to acknowledge. Lauded as one of the best worst movies of all time, the ambitious independent project quickly became a cult sensation for its uncanny ability to induce both sardonic snickering and admiration for its sincerity.

Playing Johnny - an all-American, football-tossing, pizza-ordering good guy betrayed by his girlfriend Lisa and best friend Mark - Wiseau spins a tale so cliche it borders on surrealism with its off-key version of basic social interactions. Like a Barbie doll whose face has been melted by a heat lamp, "The Room" is an irreparably warped display of familiar tropes and behaviors. Nonetheless, Wiseau defends his intentionality, even in spite of the film's painfully obvious plot inconsistencies and numerous cinematic defects (greenscreen, anyone?).

The online teaser of "The House That Drips Blood on Alex" doesn't reveal much about the storyline, but the continuous shot of Wiseau screaming, half-naked and soaked in blood seems to promise campiness tantamount to the actor's established reputation.

Still, the intentionally comedic origins of "The House That Drips Blood" could potentially add another layer of accidental irony to Wiseau's persona if the camp comes off as overwrought. Atom TV's website has already posted a parody of "The Room" titled "The Room 2," though the video does little more than reenact the plot with an overweight man in a wig as Lisa. Maybe its creators would resort to Wiseau-style denial and insist that they meant to make a failed parody of a failed drama, but I have my reservations.

As anyone who has attended "Rocky Horror Picture Show" could tell you, midnight movie screenings often beget a ritualistic environment, with fans dressing up like characters, reenacting scenes, or, in the case of "The Room," throwing plastic picnic spoons whenever they see spoon-themed art in the background of the film. Whether or not "The House That Drips Blood on Alex" will acquire its own viewer cult remains to be seen, but Tommy Wiseau sure doesn't fail to entertain, regardless of where his intentions lie.

Toss Nastia a football from four feet away at [email protected]

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