I've always been somewhat fascinated by what films crossover from mere torture into that rarified air in which a movie has been dubbed "so bad it's good." Why do films like The Room and Plan 9 from Outer Space continue to draw crowds at midnight screenings around the world whereas most bad movies merely just disappear into the bargain bin? The percentage of awful movies that actually develop a cult following is incredibly small. The most important thing to be aware of is that it's something that's impossible to fake. Midnight movie audiences have no patience for films that TRY to be bad. They have to achieve their awfulness through honest effort. There's something so watchable about people trying their best and not just missing their mark but failing in ways previously unimaginable. Such is the case with Troll 2, a mess of a movie that is so horrible that the first thing you should probably know about it is that it has no trolls. With awful acting, ridiculous dialogue, and a nonsensical story, even the people who made Troll 2 assumed that it would merely fade into the history books with its most notable claim to fame that it held the #1 spot on IMDB's list of the worst films ever made for quite some time (a position now held by Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, a work that I doubt will have a loyal cult following any time soon … Troll 2 has been pushed to #65 between Feel the Noise and Laserblast, which I haven't seen but has an undeniably awesome title). But audiences began holding screenings, contacting cast members, and even hosting live reenactments of the film's more ridiculous moments. The saga of the Best Worst Movie was born.
Director of Best Worst Movie, Michael Stephenson is not just a fan of Troll 2 he's one of its stars. And almost two decades after the film that he admits ended his dreams of being a child actor, Stephenson decided to make a documentary about the cult that has grown around his most notable acting credit. Stephenson caught the resurgence of ironic love for Troll 2 at its peak, as screenings were getting more and more crowded and stars of the film were willing to talk about something they had repressed for years. The documentarian hit the jackpot in the persona of his former leading man, George Hardy, an immensely likable man who has had a lovely life as an actor and can merely smile and laugh as he discusses Troll 2. Watching Hardy go through the memories, reenacting scenes, discussing the process, and grinning from ear to ear as fans hound him for autographs is easily the best thing about Best Worst Movie. It's impossible not to like Hardy and his unique road to fame is somewhat fascinating.
Stephenson speaks to other stars of Troll 2 and its biggest modern fans but he saves some of his best interview subjects for last including an undeniably crazy star of the film who admits he had gone off the deep end during filming and the director of the movie, a riveting man named Claudio Fragasso. The man who would go on to direct eleven more films and TV works in Italy according to IMDB has no idea why people find Troll 2 so funny and when someone asks him why there are no trolls in a movie called Troll 2, it's a documentary highlight of the year.
Best Worst Movie is likable, funny, and very enjoyable, but it also spins its wheels a bit, especially in the middle section of the film. There are a few too many interviews with fans of the movie. We get it. You love it. Stephenson oversells the idea of the film becoming a phenomenon and should have stuck with more of the cast and crew. Watching Stephenson and Hardy recreate one of the more laughable scenes or two of the goblins from the movie discuss how little they knew about what the hell was going on as the director looms in the background are gold for people who love documentaries about the world of moviemaking that doesn't always conform to the norm. Best Worst Movie offers a bit of a window into the amazingly unpredictable world of the cult movie. It's not often that a behind-the-scenes documentary is more entertaining than the movie itself but Best Worst Movie is not your typical Hollywood tale. There's nothing typical about Troll 2.
Rating: THREE BONES
Reviewed by Brian Tallerico (MovieRetriever.com Film Critic)
Release Date: July 30th, 2010
Director: Michael Stephenson