Best of the worst

Minneapolis film fans scavenge the cinematic trash heap for B-movie treasures.

Uptown Theater employee Danni Nelson puts up dates on the theater’s marquee Sunday in Minneapolis. The theater is known for hosting b movie- cult classic films such as Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.”

Uptown Theater employee Danni Nelson puts up dates on the theater’s marquee Sunday in Minneapolis. The theater is known for hosting b movie- cult classic films such as Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.”

by Marty Marosi

Two wrongs donâÄôt make a right, but make enough and you might eventually get somewhere. When it comes to cult-status trash films, the more egregious the directorial misstep, the better.

In a strange case of bad taste, Minneapolitans have an insatiable appetite for cinematic smut, and local venues like the Uptown Theatre and Trylon Microcinema are more than happy to oblige them.

B movie fans have most recently sunk their teeth into Tommy WiseauâÄôs âÄúThe Room.âÄù Shown 13 times in the last year at the Uptown Theatre, WiseauâÄôs directorial debut is a fandom phenomenon that culminated in the directorâÄôs appearance at a two-day event last November. The screening, graced by over 1,350 attendees, was the largest midnight event in the companyâÄôs history. Its next showing, a monthly occurrence at the Uptown, is set for Saturday.

To quote this dark horse of trash film history, âÄúPeople are people. Sometimes they just canâÄôt see their own faults.âÄù Whether or not he was referring to himself, WiseauâÄôs glib insight is an apt assessment of where the romance with bad movies may lie. As local schlock jock Theresa Kay of Trash Film Debauchery fame puts it, âÄúItâÄôs the whole idea of the unintentional comedy. When filmmakers are trying really hard to make something they feel is good, and they donâÄôt understand what a disaster theyâÄôre creating.âÄù

Kay started Trash Film Debauchery as a student group at the University of Minnesota in 2003. It has since evolved into an organizing body for B movie screenings around Minneapolis.

Upcoming Debauchery films are âÄúMagadheera,âÄú a 2009 Indian epic involving spiritual reincarnation and helicopter crashes, for Jan. 26 and a Feb. 23screening of âÄúHappiness of the Katakuris,âÄù a Takashi Miike surreal horror-musical set around a family-run bed and breakfast riddled with the mysterious and sudden deaths of its guests. Both are to show at the Trylon Microcinema as part of an ongoing series of trash films, which go up the fourth Wednesday of every month.

ItâÄôs atypical that the screenings are movies made in recent years, as most of the selections Kay makes for Trash Film Debauchery are older movies that âÄúhave been forgotten and sort of reclaimed as trash-film status as time goes by.âÄù But the main criteria when judging a bad movie of high quality is that it simply âÄúcanâÄôt be boring,âÄù Kay said.

Another such group, calling itself Conquest and staking claim at Lovepower Church, attempted to start a trash film revivalist movement of its own in the bowels of the old mission building. Event coordinator Grant Mayland has put the weekly events on hiatus until a future regenesis involving sci-fi and horror films screened in tandem with potential dance parties. MaylandâÄôs project may satisfy a subset of the trash-film culture looking for genre-specifc subversiveness. To Mayland, âÄúbad movies are more about overpaid actors and bad CGI.âÄù

It has been said that comedy is tragedy plus time. In her years as a connoisseur, Kay can already sniff out a modern movieâÄôs future status as a trash film.

âÄúSeeing the âÄòXXXâÄô movies or âÄòTokyo Drift;âÄô theyâÄôre so bad, but in twenty years, IâÄôm going to love these movies so much,âÄù she said.

B movie fans can rest assured that the coffers will always be well-stocked. But if the well ever runs dry, itâÄôs only a matter of time before our dayâÄôs cinematic tragedies will become tomorrowâÄôs comedies.