May 16, 2011

Best Worst Movie

Dir: Michael Paul Stephenson
The 1989 film Troll 2 (which is about goblins, and has nothing to do with the original Troll, obviously) was a low budget, direct to video thing, knocked off in three weeks in Utah by prolific Italian exploitation filmmaker Claudio Fragasso with a cast of apparently baffled locals, but in the years since its release it has become a cult classic, passed around among bad movie fans and gaining a reputation as this generation's Plan 9 From Outer Space; the kind of bad movie that's so terrible that it becomes brilliantly entertaining.

This documentary was directed by the film's now grown up child star, but it largely follows a Utah based dentist named George Hardy, who is apparently the nicest man in the world, and who, 18 years ago, played the Father of Troll 2's central family. Stephenson follows Hardy through a series of screenings and conventions, and the two get reacquainted with some of their co-stars. It's overwhelmingly a warm and affectionate film, pulled along by a man who, though he does get a little intoxicated by sudden cult stardom, remains perhaps the most amiable guy alive (when he's flopping at a convention he corners people - punters and fellow B-List celebs alike - and asks them whether they've seen Troll 2, before regaling them with his famous "You can't piss on hospitality" line, and even then he comes across simply as intensely friendly).

It's not all sweetness and light, director Fragasso thinks Troll 2 is both a good and an important film (spoiler alert: It's not) and harangues the amused (and bemused) cast at a Q and A and there is a downright sad scene with Margo Prey, who played Hardy's wife, and now seems to be a borderline crazy cat lady, confined to her home and looking after her elderly Mother (there's a whole other, much more depressing, film to be made there).

Stephenson and most of his subjects (even the initially skeptical actress who played his sister) seem to, eventually, treat the film and its fans with amusement and enjoy the little bit of recognition it gives them, and it's that warmth that really makes Best Worst Movie the intensely likable experience it is. This isn't so much a film about Troll 2 as much as it is about a strange shared experience, for both cast and fans. It's a real treat, find it and double bill it with Troll 2 for a great evening's entertainment.

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