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Best Worst Movie

What He said:

He

George Hardy is a dentist in the town of Alexandra City, Alabama. He has a successful practice and everyone seems to like him. His patients like him, his staff loves him, and even his ex-wife has nothing but good things to say about him. This is due to his genuinely pleasant and kind nature.

Every year in the town’s Christmas parade, George dresses up like the Tooth Fairy and skates around – between falling  on his face – on rollerblades for the amusement of the townsfolk. If you think this – and his constantly pleasant demeanor – is a gimmick to get customers, think again. He has also been known to do free dental work for children whose families have little-to-no income. George is one of the most genuine people I have ever laid eyes on. I only saw a 90-minute documentary with him in it, but not only do I feel like I know the guy, I feel like I’d really like him too. Throughout the movie, everyone raves about how sincere he is.  

There is something about George that separates him from a lot of us though. He’s been in a movie! And not just any more, but the worst movies ever made. Troll 2 is about a family who travels to the small town of Nilbog for their summer vacation. Problem is, it is inhabited by goblins who want to eat them! A few things should be mentioned before proceeding any further. You might have noticed I called the creatures goblins and not trolls. Yep, that’s right, there is not a single troll in this movie. They are referred to as goblins several times despite the film’s title. Speaking of that, you’d think a movie called Troll 2 would naturally be the sequel to Troll. Nope, the movies aren’t even remotely connected. The movie studio decided to call it Troll 2 because they feared Goblins – its original title – wouldn’t sell.

Best Worst Movie

As if the change in title would suddenly make the movie better, ha! See, the movie was written and directed by husband and wife duo, Claudio Fragrasso and Rosella Drudi. They are from Italy and at the time of the making of the movie, they spoke no English. They also used a crew who spoke little-to-no English. This caused something of a problem with the movie’s plot and dialogue: neither made any sense!

You would think this alone would be a large enough issue, but to make matters worse, most of the cast of the movie were residents from the small town in which it was filmed. This should come as no surprise, but many of them had no prior acting experience.

Add these two things together and you have a recipe for the Best Worst Movie ever made. This documentary tells the story of the making of that movie and its rise to a cult favorite in recent years. It is directed and produced by the young lead of Troll 2, Michael Stephenson.

Stephenson does his best to track down and interview as many of the cast as possible. George, being the happy-go-lucky guy he is, was more than willing to participate. He likes and excels being in the spotlight. He was already a pleasant guy before Troll 2 gained cult status, but once people wanted to meet with nd talk to him about his experience filming the movie, he eats it up. A lot of the other cast members were completely baffled by the movie’s recent resurgence. It’s not exactly something most of them put on their resume.  Some of them were still trying to become successful actors and were embarrassed by their appearance in a movie with its reputation. But once they saw how many people got so much pleasure out of watching this train wreck, they couldn’t help but get involved.

One of the more colorful characters in the movie and in real life is Don Packard, who plays the creepy store owner in Troll 2. This guy is a riot. He is as every bit as bizarre as the character he played, and has had some legitimate issues in his life, but he’s much more good natured than his on-screen counterpart. He is just happy to hear the movie makes others happy.  

Another colorful personality is the director of Troll 2, Claudio Fragrasso. This guy is a handful. There is clearly a language and cultural barrier between him and his cast, but it’s more than that. This guy actually thinks he’s making a movie with a legitimate social commentary.  For a time, you kind of pity him, because people love the movie because it’s so bad – and he doesn’t think it is – but the more you see of him the less you feel bad about laughing at him and his movie. He has a huge ego, thinks his movies are masterpieces, and is actually pretty rude at times.

One of the other standout personalities of the movie is Margo Prey, who played Michael Stephenson’s mother in Troll 2. There are times you genuinely feel bad for this woman. She’s clearly got some psychological problems. But there are others where she will do something very stereotypical of your classic hermit or cat lady and you can’t help but smile at her antics. Stephenson wasn’t making fun of her, just filming her being herself, which happened to be pretty damn amusing at times.

I remember coming across Troll 2 on one of the movie channels as a kid and even then I remember thinking how awful it was. But now I can totally see why the movie has attracted a cult following. The acting is dreadful, the dialogue is worse, and effects are as low budget as it gets. It’s also a very entertaining story. George is a very likeable guy. He is funny, nice, and eating up this minor stint of fame. Claudio is the kind of guy you love to hate. The guy’s ego is enormous. He had a career making horror/exploitation films, yet somehow things he’s one of the all-time greats. There are also sad parts, as you see how troubled some of the “actors” from Troll 2 are, but such is life. Life isn’t all smiles and rainbows, so these parts of the documentaries added a dose of reality to the viewing experience. This is a strangely fascinating and entertaining documentary about a dreadful movie that is so bad, it’s attracted a dedicated and loyal group of followers. The whole thing is quite amusing to watch. Kudos to the director for taking a bad experience and turning it into a positive part of his career

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on August 4, 2013.

What She said:

She

What is the worst movie you've ever seen? I mean, so bad that you sat there shaking your head wondering what the moviemakers were even thinking. Well, according to Best Worst Movie, a 2009 documentary, that movie is Troll 2, a 1990 crap-fest that carries a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Best Worst Movie was created by Michael Stephenson who was just a young kid with a dream when he starred in Troll 2. Fortunately for Stephenson, Best Worst Movie is WAY better than Troll 2. In fact, it's actually really, really good.

Best Worst Movie follows several ex-cast members of Troll 2 as they reunite in the wake of the film's 20 year anniversary and a resurgence of interest that elevates the movie to a sort of cult classic status. Primarily, the footage follows George Hardy, a very likable dentist from Alabama who played the dad in Troll 2. He's truly a pleasant man who just thinks the whole thing is hilarious. So, through Best Worst Movie this is what we learn about Troll 2: it had absolutely nothing to do with Troll 1, there are no actual trolls in the movie, it was written and directed by an Italian filmmaker and his wife who barely spoke English and to this day believe the movie is excellent and artistic, and half of the people in the movie were and still are certifiably crazy. We realize all this as the cast gathers together and reminisce. Oh, and the director comes over to the States to cash in on the current interest in the movie.

Best Worst Movie

This documentary will have you feeling a range of emotions. First and foremost, it's hilarious. There are moments where you just realize how completely absurd the entire thing is and was. Then there's the sadness you'll feel when encounter some of the more unhinged people who were involved with the film. The one actress in particular, who plays the mom in Troll 2, is some sort of shut-in now who cares for her aging mother and seems terrified to go out in the real world. Yes, she wears a cat sweatshirt. There were a couple of times I was actually a little angry — the Italian director is a complete a-hole and I wanted to punch his bloated face throughout.

Best Worst Movie asks the question, "What made Troll 2 the worst movie ever?" and the answer we find out is a whole lot of things. It was the perfect storm of poor moviemaking execution. Production value on this documentary is nothing spectacular, but it's really interesting and actually something valuable to watch. I very much enjoyed my hour and a half viewing this. And the best part is that it's currently available on Amazon Prime, so no worries about it costing you money.

Thumbs way up.

Best Worst Movie

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