Thursday, May 5, 2011

best worst movie

first i'll give you a little backstory on myself and Troll 2. Troll 2 is the sequel to Troll, a Leprechaun-style horror movie that featured a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus for some reason. It was dumb and unremarkable and quickly forgotten. A few years later, in 1989, Troll 2 was made, and I'm not going to bore you with the details about Troll 2's creation as you can read about it anywhere. I will only say that it's one of the worst-made movies ever and it has nothing to do with Troll. It has a huge cult following because somehow despite its crappy construction and acting, it's got what movie detectives call a heart of gold. It's one of my favorite movies, and I'll tell the story of why.

It was one of those zip-a-dee-doo-dah days

I was a kid once, you see. Like most of the portly population of my generation (over a ramification for the subjugation), I spent most of my weekends indoors, attached to a CRT screen of some kind. On one particularly lucky day, this screen happened to be my sister's TV. I had the one attached to game consoles, she had the one attached to cable. I watched Troll 2, and I distinctly remember which scenes I caught. I saw the scene in which Drew tries to drag Arnold The Plant out of the church, but gets knocked out and wakes up to Arnold The Milkshake. I also distinctly remember the infamous "corn porn" scene.

That scene, like the rest of the movie, was filmed in earnest and absolutely 100% serious in its endeavor to be part of a legitimately good movie. Having been 8 or 10 at the time, this movie didn't really seem all that weird to me, at least not when compared to any other horror movie. Based on the tone, I could tell it was supposed to be scary, but I only left it feeling "weird". It probably stayed distinct in my mind because of that. A movie like Halloween or Child's Play (another horror movie I saw as a child, which extended my fear of dark places by at least 3 years) was scary to me at the time, but not really memorable. My life continued as is normal for the next 10 or so years until I read a review at They were one of the first mainstream sites to do reviews of bad movies for fun. I went to their site occasionally and was browsing their reviews, when I noticed that a particular review sounded an awful lot like that movie I saw when I was a kid. Lo and behold, it was. Over the next year or so, I did a little research on the movie and also, by coincidence, caught the movie on cable. I learned that this movie had a huge following, and a ton of fans. Older at that point, I was able to realize just how ridiculous this movie was, and knew it was something special. I got a copy at Barnes and Noble ASA(was)P.

I've since shown it to anyone I believe would be interested. My finding the review, catching it on cable, learning about its fanbase all happened at around the same time, which created a sort of hybrid super-interest in it for me. So when I also heard that there was a documentary being made about this movie, I was ecstatic. The child actor who played the lead, grown up at this point, was making a documentary about the creation of the film, as well as the cult population and the actors themselves. He would call it Best Worst Movie, and it would be one of the best reviewed films of the year. I think it's actually pretty funny that the worst movie ever also has a documentary about it that is a really good movie. Director Michael Paul Stephenson followed George Hardy, who played his father in the movie, as they went to several fan screenings of Troll 2 and sought out the other actors and director for interviews, went to conventions, held screenings, and studied the cult phenomenon that had erupted. He also included a backstory that explains the movie, which is sufficient if you've never seen Troll 2. With George Hardy as the principal focus, the movie follows his reaction to the whole thing in a proper balance with everything else they try to cover. He's an instantly lovable personality, friendly and enthusiastic about his fame while somehow staying likable as he maybe enjoys it too much as the film goes on. The film is funny on its own, but the subject matter makes it hilariously ridiculous, and the film even is able to evoke some heavy emotion if you can believe it.

[I was going to insert Best Worst Movie's trailer here, but embedding is disabled. Watch it here]

He're a picture for good measure. Or whatever.

Back? Good. If you're a fan of the movie, it's a particular treat to see as they round up the actors from the movie, whom you probably thought you'd never see again as long as you lived. Almost everyone has positive things to say about their experience, or at least funny things to say. Some of the people involved don't really look back at the movie fondly, but are able to at least appreciate that it's a funny story. Connie Young, who is still an actress after Troll 2, doesn't even list it on her resume. One after another, the principal actors are interviewed, and you get to hear their own perspectives on it. Some of the stories are hilarious, some are just okay, and others are downright heartbreaking. Troll 2 was a super low-budget movie with few "real" actors in it, and as such when you try to dig up what has happened to some of the actors, it's not always going to be a delightful story. I won't spoil what's what, but most of these stories at least wrap up on a funny or happy note. Claudio Fragasso, the director, is introduced about halfway in, and at this point the movie kind of goes into detail about the movie's production. Troll 2 is a total "WTF?" film, and most of the weird scenes or ideas are at least partially explained when he and his wife, the writer, are introduced. It kind of kills the mystery about a lot of it, like how the goblins' vegetarianism is based on the writer having vegetarian friends who pissed her off.

As a fan of Troll 2, there was something wonderfully "conclusive" about this movie to me. Troll 2 feels like a movie that has a huge story to tell "behind the scenes," and this movie tells that story. Add in everything that has happened since, and you get a really interesting story with some lovable characters and a study of what actually makes a movie enjoyable. I can't recommend this movie enough. If you're a Troll 2 fan, you probably already know about it and have seen it. If you haven't, I recommend picking up Troll 2 first. There's not much of a way for me to explain what makes it enjoyable if you don't already "get it". It's like the Matrix. You have to see it for yourself.

Watch Best Worst Movie on Amazon
Watch Troll 2 on Amazon

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