Best Worst Movie (2010)

8 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

When I first saw a 1990 horror film called “Troll 2,” I went through a series of emotions—confused, shocked, annoyed, depressed, and the thing is I could go on and on about how I felt about this horrible movie. “Troll 2” was hands-down the absolute worst movie I’ve ever seen, and will ever see, in my life. I thought if I ever saw a frame from that film again, I would vomit in the nearest trashcan. But then I realized, wait a minute! This is the worst film of all time! That has to be worth something, right?

I’m not exaggerating either. People all over the Internet have saved this film from obscurity by hailing it as a masterpiece. Why? Because of how much they love to hate it! “Troll 2” is now hailed as a cult classic because people love to make fun of it. Because of that, it’s even known to some as one of their favorite movies. It’s like, if you want to watch every bad movie, you might as well enjoy the absolute worst. It’s so bad that it’s infamously good.

To give my short review of “Troll 2” (which bares no resemblance to 1986’s more mediocre-than-god-awful “Troll,” by the way), besides calling it the worst film I’d ever seen, here it is—the acting and dialogue is camp at its finest, its production values are nonexistent, the effects are worse than awful, and just about everything else is done so wrong, that the entire film has to be seen to be believed. Just talking about it doesn’t help at all. Check it out sometime—I mean, if you don’t want to watch every bad movie, then watch the absolute worst.

Wow. Can’t believe I said that.

Michael Paul Stephenson, about 20 years ago, played the little protagonist, in the film, who discovered goblins (not trolls) in a small town where his family is vacationing. He hoped that being the lead in a film would bring him to child-star status. Boy, was he wrong. But now that he sees the cult phenomenon that “Troll 2” has become, he has created a documentary—entitled “Best Worst Movie,” a fitting title—chronicling the fandom behind it.

“Best Worst Movie” begins rather ordinarily, as we follow an Alabama dentist named George Hardy. George is one nice guy. People love him, people love to be around him, and even his ex-wife can’t hate him. It seems like a documentary about this sincerely nice man until “Troll 2” is brought up. George Hardy, whom everybody loves to like, had played the father in “Troll 2,” which everybody loves to hate.

George deeply appreciates the stardom that has been given to him because of his role in “Troll 2.” He was overacting as much as everybody else in the film, and what really distinguishes him from everyone else, mainly, is this one line delivery that everyone laughs so hard at—“You can’t piss on hospitality! I won’t allow it!” George shows up at almost every screening of the film, and is called up to the stage to say that line. He does, and everyone goes nuts each time.

We meet other actors from the movie. In particular, there’s Connie McFarland as the sister, Don Packard as the creepy drugstore owner, and Margo Prey as the mother. McFarland is hurt by the comments saying that she did a really bad acting job, but she understands because she knows she did a terrible job in the movie. She won’t put it on her resume, in fear of never being hired again if she mentions the title. Packard explains that he had gotten the role because the actor who was supposed to do it wasn’t able to, and so Packard just arrived on the set not too long after and did it himself. He admits that he arrived on the set courtesy of a day-release program from a mental hospital. Then there’s Margo Grey. She’s another story. When Stephenson and George show up at her house, there’s a sign saying that this woman would rather be left alone and would prefer no visitors of any kind. Because of that, they’re almost afraid to ring the doorbell because they imagine someone wielding a shotgun in front of him, or possibly shooting through the door. But Margo does welcome them into her home, even though the two are possibly unnerved by her. She never comes to a single screening of “Troll 2.”

We also meet the director Claudio Fragasso, an Italian who couldn’t speak English very well but kept insisting he understood Americans. He’s the person to point to when it comes to the reason why “Troll 2” is so bad. It’s because of this communication breakdown and a good deal of ineptitude that this production was doomed. But here’s the odd part. He doesn’t acknowledge that he made a bad film, let alone the worst of all time. He’s hurt by the audience’s constant laughter and whenever he’s called up for question-and-answer, his most basic response is, “You don’t understand nothing.” (The most memorable use of that response is when he is asked why the film is called “Troll 2” when there are no trolls in it.) He even interrupts his actors when they announce the troubles they had on set, with dialogue and acting. “You don’t understand nothing.” And nobody who was involved in the production all those years ago had the slightest clue what he was trying to do.

George Hardy remains the anchor of “Best Worst Movie.” He’s the one that Stephenson follows most of the time, as George looks forward to more screenings and goes door-to-door handing out flyers to neighbors, telling them to come down to the next one and see the film if they hadn’t already. Sometimes, he’ll even describe the film and yes he will even say his infamous line. George is also invited to film revivals and conventions. But at the bigger conventions, George is surprised to see a less-than-expected number of people showing up at the “Troll 2” stand or panel, particularly at the horror-movie convention, where everyone recognizes actors from “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequels rather than actors from “Troll 2.” George keeps trying to make himself known, by saying, “See ‘Troll 2!’ It’s the worst movie of all time!” His lack of recognition has him to say, “There’s tons of gingivitis in this room.”

George has stated that if Fragasso plans to make “Troll 2: Part II,” then George will be on board. Whether or not the other actors will remains to be seen, if the film is a go. I’m not saying I’ll see it, if that happens…but I’m not saying I won’t either.

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