Cold cocktails and cult classics

Palouse Cult Film Revival back for first time in years; will feature three films, special guest Greg Sestero



After a three year hiatus, the Palouse Cult Film Revival is back in Moscow. Organizers say the event is a vital part of the local art scene.

FRANKIE BEER, Evergreen news editor

Eric Billings’s passion for sharing cult classic films may have started over drinks with friends, but his Palouse Cult Film Revival now aims to serve the community – one “awesomely bad” film at a time. 

Best Western Plus University Inn will host the third annual film revival in Moscow on Feb. 2, 10 and 11. The film revival will feature “Bleeders” and “Miracle Valley” the first two nights and conclude the series with “The Room.”

The films will begin at 7 p.m. each night, but doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $5-50 and are available on the film revival’s website. Concessions, complete with a full bar, will also be available at the event. 

Billings, the founder of the festival, said he had presented a showing of  Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” every revival since his first event in 2018. 

The screenings of “Miracle Valley” and “The Room” will also feature actor Greg Sestero, who starred in “The Room” and documented his experience in the New York Times bestseller, “The Disaster Artist.” Sestero then went on to write and direct “Miracle Valley.” 

Billings said there is “something special” about watching the audience’s reactions to “The Room” and hearing them laugh at certain parts of the film. 

“‘The Room is horrible, but it wasn’t intentional. It was intentionally trying to be good, and I think that’s where the magic is— he [Wiseau] can’t recreate that,” Billings said. “It is truly terrible, and that’s what makes it truly great.”

In creating the film revival, Billings aimed to provide a unique, nostalgic film experience for the Moscow community. He said the event also supports nonprofits like Vitalant and the West Side Food Pantry. 

Dre Arman, director of tourism and marketing for the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, said supporting nonprofits and creating a shared experience for people during these isolating times is essential to the Moscow community. 

“It’s a great opportunity for people to tune into a piece of subculture that they may not have otherwise been aware of,” Arman said. 

Arman said Moscow has always been the “heart of the arts,” but she is seeing a new resurrection of the community’s art scene following the initial impact of COVID-19. 

Due to the pandemic, Billings has not held the film revival in three years. Despite the uncertainty of funding during those years, Billings said he has had more local sponsors – like the Moscow Food Co-op and One World Cafe – than he ever had before. 

Sponsors and attendees alike ensure each film in the series creates an interactive experience for the audience, encouraging them to talk during the showing and actively participate. 

In “The Room,” mysterious images of spoons are sprinkled throughout the film, replacing actual art in the background of multiple scenes. Every time the audience spots the piece of cutlery, they shout “spoon” and send plastic spoons flying at the screen. 

Daniel Key, film revival attendee and Moscow resident, said he had watched the film over 10 times. He said he is especially eager to speak with actor Greg Sestero and hear his insider knowledge of the film’s production. 

“It’s just a new, exciting thing you don’t see every day. I look forward to going to it every year more than I look forward to actual, new movies coming out,” Key said. 

The film revival will also host a signing for Sestero’s book “The Disaster Artist” from 3-5 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Moscow Chamber of Commerce building. 

Next year, Billings would like to introduce a musical into the lineup of films. As attendees buy their tickets, Billings will take their recommendations on which films they would like to watch in the future. 

He also hopes to host a short-film competition for local college students one day. 

“If I can be a part of bringing some kind of joy or just a fun experience, then that makes me happy because really this is a hobby for me. I just do this for fun and as a way to give back to my community,” Billings said.