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Film / Four Rooms

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Four Rooms is a 1995 Black Comedy Round Robin Anthology film consisting of four segments, linked by a framing story: Ted (Tim Roth) is a young and rather loopy bellhop working at a once famous Los Angeles hotel that has fallen from grace and become a haven for criminals and creeps. On New Year's Eve, he ends up with an interesting set of clientèle as the only employee on staff.

Honeymoon Suite - The Missing Ingredient

A coven of witches gather for a ceremony to resurrect their petrified goddess. Four of them brought their ingredients, but the fifth failed to bring hers: semen. When Ted shows up, he happens to be the closest male available.

Written and directed by Allison Anders.

Room 404 - The Wrong Man

After some drunk people at an Ambiguously Gay disco party ask for ice and screw up their room number, Ted ends up entering the room of a man (David Proval) holding his Bound and Gagged wife (Jennifer Beals) at gunpoint. Mistaking him for someone else, he gets forced to partake in a particularly odd S&M game because the man has a "big fucking gun".

Written and directed by Alexandre Rockwell.

Room 309 - The Misbehavers

A Mexican gangster (Antonio Banderas) and his wife (Tamlyn Tomita) decide to leave their kids at the room for the night while they go to a party. Rather than call a babysitter, they pay Ted five hundred dollars to tend to them and make sure they don't misbehave. Finagle's Law immediately takes hold.

Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez.

Penthouse - The Man from Hollywood

After a brief phone call to his boss (Kathy Griffin) to be let off for the night, Ted ends up making one last stop. Chester Rush is a famous director (played by Quentin Tarantino) holding a private party with some of his buddies from the business. After seeing an old episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents where a man bets his little finger he can start a lighter ten times in a row, they decide to replicate it, and they have decided that they want Ted to join the festivities...

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

This film provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Norman bets his pinky against Chester's car. He loses.
  • Adam Westing: Antonio Banderas plays a parody of his usual Mexican Badass role.
  • Advertised Extra: Marisa Tomei features quite prominently on the movie poster, and looks her usual classy self. In reality, she appears briefly in one scene as a disheveled stoner.
  • Anachronic Order: "The Wrong Man" occurs during the Time Skip in "The Misbehavers".
  • Animated Credits Opening
  • Anti-Climax: The actor in "The Man from Hollywood" bets that he can successfully start a lighter ten times in a row or else have his little finger cut off. There's a lot of build-up in suspense but then he fails on the first try.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: With a dash of either Dare to Be Badass or Break Them by Talking, depending upon your perspective; At the climax of "The Man From Hollywood", Chester lays an even $1000 on the bar and asks Ted if he wants to remember, for the rest of his life, if he refused a thousand dollars for one second's worth of work, or if he made a thousand dollars for one second's worth of work.
  • Berserk Button: Don't call Ted "Theodore" (unless you've got a loaded gun at his head).
    • And don't call that whore a whore!
  • The Bet: The Roald Dahl short story "Man from the South" is the basis for "The Man From Hollywood", Quentin Tarantino's segment. The characters in this segment explicitly discuss the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Hitchcock episode adaptation. In this version, the lighter fails on the first try and the referee—a bellhop who has been paid $1,000 for his trouble—chops off the finger and swiftly departs.
  • Brick Joke: During "The Wrong Man", Siegfried is briefly distracted by a phone call. As Ted and Angela talk, Siegfried can be heard into the background yelling something about needles at the caller. Later, during "The Misbehavers", which takes place at the same time as "The Wrong Man", the kids call a random hotel room to ask about the needle they found. They, of course, reach Siegfried.
  • Captain Obvious: Ted, twice, in "The Man From Hollywood":
    Ted: You guys are drunk!
    Leo: Of course! OF COURSE WE'RE DRUNK TEDDY! That's why we're here but that does not mean that we don't know what the fuck we're talking about.
    Ted: Well you guys wouldn't be doing something this stupid unless you were really fucking drunk.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ted as a rule reacts to things in the goofiest manner possible, which is necessary both to keep a comedic tone during what would otherwise be horrifying circumstances (being taken advantage of by a witch, being threatened at gunpoint, finding a dead prostitute hidden in a mattress), and to inform the audience that the shit has really hit the fan when he drops the goofiness and becomes the sanest person in the room (reacting to Chester and Norman's bet by running for the door).
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Especially in "The Man From Hollywood". But hey, it is directed by Tarantino.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Margaret's response to Ted freaking out over having a gun pointed in his face is to ask him what kind of gun it was.
  • Delayed Reaction: Ted's screaming reaction to a painful needle jab in the knee is made so much funnier by the Beat it took him to realize what'd just happened.
  • Depending on the Writer: Ted's characterization changes quite a bit between segments. This is Justified though as the circumstances of each segment are all drastically different. The one consistent thing though is that he is a Cloudcuckoolander who tries his best to do his job only to keep getting sidetracked by the wacky antics going on at the hotel.
    • In "The Missing Ingredient", he acts like a rather easily enamored Casanova Wannabe who doesn't seem to notice or care that the witches are trying to cast a spell on him.
    • In "The Wrong Man", he's so scared out of his mind by Siegfried's homicidal behavior that he spends most of this segment as a total and complete trainwreck.
    • In "The Misbehavers", he starts out as mildly smug and cocky and totally confident that he is in control only to be worn down by the children's wild behavior and develops a Hair-Trigger Temper as the segment goes on.
    • In "The Man From Hollywood", he's so utterly desensitized to all of the insane things going on at the hotel that he throws all of his inhibitions out the window and embraces the madness. He doesn't even question or try to make sense of Chester's bet and instead just goes along with all of it as if he's finally lost his sanity.
  • Do Not Try This at Home: "The Man From Hollywood". The bet that makes up the story wasn't just a spur-of-the-moment thing; Chester, Norman and company were drunk on New Year's and happened to catch the specific episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents where a similar bet made up that plotline. Chester has a Cool Car that Norman wants. Norman has a lighter and both pinkies. One quick call down to room service, and...
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: During "The Missing Ingredient", Eva very clearly puts Ted under a spell in order to get him to have sex with her, before which he was staunchly refusing to do so while on the clock, and when Ted mentions that "Betty's gonna kill [him]", Eva has the nerve to act offended until being told that Betty is Ted's boss.
    • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: When recounting the events of the night to Margaret, Ted is initially upset by the encounter, before relenting that it was "admittedly the best part of the evening"; though it's not saying much considering that by this point he's at his wit's end having been repeatedly harassed, threatened (at gunpoint no less), terrified, and more mundanely put upon by having to run an entire hotel by himself on New Year's Eve.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Quite literally. It definitely was a "hell of a night" for Ted, but he managed to earn over 1550 dollars in the course of it.
  • Enfant Terrible: The two kids in "The Misbehavers".
  • Fanservice: In "The Missing Ingredient", quite a few of the witches are topless during the ritual and all of them are very attractive as well.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: "The Wrong Man" and "The Misbehavers".
  • Foreshadowing: In the opening scene an old retiring bellhop advises Ted to "stay clear of night cliques, kids, hookers and married arguments". Naturally, over the night Ted is going to encounter all of 'em.
    • He also, as a last point, advises Ted to keep his pecker in his pants. You can guess what happens during the first segment after the opening credits.
    • There's also one within a single segment, "The Misbehavers": the smell in the room...
  • How Unscientific!: Evoked by "The Missing Ingredient", which includes what is definitely magic in an otherwise realistic (or at least non-magical) film.
  • Humiliation Conga: Heavily Lampshaded. After "The Misbehavers", Ted calls up his boss Betty to bring her up to speed (first having a conversation with Margaret).
    Betty: [finally getting on the phone] Ted? What's the problem?
    Ted: [eerily calm] Hello Betty. "What's the problem?" I haven't got a problem. I've got fucking problems. Plural. Wanna hear?
    Betty: [disinterested] Sure.
    Ted: [remaining calm] Well most recently, there's Room 309. There's this scary Mexican gangster dude poking his finger in my chest. There's his hooligan kids snapping their fingers at me. There's the putrid rotting corpse of a dead whore stuffed in the springs of the bed. There's rooms blazing afire. There's a big fat needle, from God knows where, stuck in my leg, infecting me with God knows what. And finally there's me. Walking out the door. Right fucking now. Buenos noches!
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: "The Wrong Man" has a whole lot of penis nicknames.
  • Impossible Mission Collapse:
    • What should've been a straightforward babysitting gig in "The Misbehavers" goes about as wrong as it possibly could, up to the discovery of a dead body.
    • The whole segment "The Man From Hollywood" is this: ten or so minutes of Tarantino-style Seinfeldian Conversation as the Hollywood execs (and girl) explain the backstory of the situation at hand and convince Ted to help them with the bet (especially because they are all rip-roaring drunk and don't want to accidentally chop off more than what was wagered), followed by the bet lasting exactly one second as the lighter fails to work on its first flick and Ted immediately (and too quickly for someone to tell him to stop) performs his role as the "hatchet man".
  • Insane Troll Logic: In fairness they're all drunk, but Chester supplies this "justification" for their bet;
    Chester: We're all buddies here; nobody wants Norman to lose his finger, we just wanna chop it off.
  • Insistent Terminology: In "The Man From Hollywood" Chester Rush insists that Ted refer to him as "Chester" instead of "Sir". Additionally, Chester's not drinking champagne; it's Cristal. And Cristal is not "good"—it's fucking good. Finally, what is very clearly a meat cleaver is referred to repeatedly as a "hatchet".
  • Kubrick Stare: Antonio Banderas. Endlessly!
  • Large Ham: Tim Roth, throughout the film (justified, as it allows to keep the consistently light comedic tone even during the sequences that would otherwise come off as spooky). Siegfried. Norman. Bruce Willis. The second and the fourth episodes are World of Ham, really.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The first long scene of "The Man From Hollywood" jumps between characters within the shot, drawing attention towards one or two and pushing the rest to the side, so there's always one or two characters puttering around just out of focus. Due to this, it's easy to miss things like Ted informing Chester that they can trash the place as far as he cares so long as they don't mess up the furniture (the unspoken implication being don't stuff any corpses in the mattress), Chester and Norman discussing their bet while Leo argues with his wife, Leo assuring Norman that they have a doctor in the emergency room "just in case", and more tellingly Angela interrupting Leo's phone call to ask for a light, hinting that Norman's "lucky zippo" isn't so (forgive the pun) surefire.
  • New Year Has Come: The movie takes place the night of New Years and into the (very) early morning.
  • Noodle Implements: The guests in "The Man from Hollywood" order a block of wood, a doughnut, a ball of twine, three nails, a club sandwich, a bucket of ice, and an extremely sharp hatchet. "As sharp as the devil himself." Unlike most examples of this trope, however, everything but the nails and twine gets explained: the doughnut is a snack for Chester, the club sandwich is for Angela, and the ice, hatchet and block of wood are for the bet that the segment is really about.
    • The nails and the twine would probably have been used to immobilize Norman's hand so he couldn't pull it out of the way if he lost or chickened out, as was done in both the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode that inspired the bet and the story on which the episode was based.
  • Oh, Crap!: In "The Man From Hollywood", when Chester informs Ted that "We want you to take part!" Ted (after three insane incidents already) sports this look...which is punctuated by someone blowing a party tooter.
  • Oner: A 6 minutes long shot opens "The Man From Hollywood", immediately followed by an even longer 8 minute oner. And at the start of the end credits, there's another, shorter 2 minute oner.
  • Only Sane Man: Ted clearly considers himself to be this...and considering the characters surrounding him, he might not be too wrong on that. In "The Man From Hollywood", Chester and company want him to act as an impartial intermediary in their "little wager" specifically because he's the only one in the room who's still sober.
  • Prima Donna Director: Chester Rush, as played by Quentin.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Ted plans to pull this after "The Misbehavers". And he immediately does on "The Man From Hollywood", a lot richer, a bit happier, and having chopped off the finger of a Hollywood big-shot.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: One of the rare female examples in "The Missing Ingredient".
  • Shout-Out: The aforementioned episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (specifically, it's "Man From The South"), which in turn was an adaptation of a Roald Dahl story.
  • Signature Style: Each short is meant to communicate their writer/director's talents. Odds are very good one is not watching the film for the first two directors, though.
  • Stoners Are Funny: Margaret answers when Ted tries to get Betty on the phone, leading to a brief but hilarious conversation between one person who is stressed out of his mind and another who is baked out of hers.
    • Small Role, Big Impact: ...And it's that few minutes of bothering Ted about unimportant details of his story that delays him long enough for the call to come down from the penthouse, setting the events of "The Man From Hollywood" into motion, leaving Ted with a thousand bucks in his pocket and one hell of a story to tell.
  • The Cameo: Bruce Willis refused payment for his role in "The Man From Hollywood" as a thank you to Tarantino for casting him in Pulp Fiction. He wasn't credited because he violated SAG rules by doing the gig for free.
  • Tranquil Fury: Ted when describing the events of the night to Betty. See the Humiliation Conga example.
  • Understatement: At the end of "The Misbehavers", the father asks if his children misbehaved as all hell breaks loose in the room.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When investigating a smell coming from Room 309, the little girl removes the mattress to discover the "putrid rotting corpse of a dead whore" (stop calling her that!!). Ted then does his best Regan Macneil impression.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The party on the fifth floor appears to be like one of these.
  • You're Insane!: Ted's reaction once Bruce Willis explains The Plan to him. "...You guys are DRUNK!" "Of COURSE we're drunk, Teddy—that's why we're here!"