Maybe you’ve heard of Troll 2. Then again, maybe you haven’t. Troll 2 was released in 1990 and is widely regarded as the worst movie ever made. It’s the only film with a 0% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com. How bad is it? For starters, nothing about the film makes sense, least of all its title. It’s completely unrelated to Troll. It’s not even about trolls! It is a terrible, terrible film, but it’s a special one as well.
Few films can fail so spectacularly on every level and still be so compulsively watchable. There’s no telling where the film will go, as everything about Troll 2 defies logic and explanation. To say the film is confounding is putting it lightly. But people love Troll 2 — partially because it’s terrible, but mainly because it’s totally hilarious.
Best Worst Movie is the success story of the biggest cinematic failure of all time. It explains the Troll 2 “phenomenon,” and you don’t need to have seen the film to appreciate this documentary. Michael Stephenson, the child star of Troll 2, is behind the camera here, and he finds his star in George Hardy, an Alabama dentist and his one-time film father. George is such a sweet and good natured person, and the warmth of his personality carries the documentary. He’s a natural performer who, outside of a brief stint in Troll 2, never followed his dreams of being an actor.
Much of the charm of the film comes from watching George transform from a man ashamed of his claim to fame to one who really believes he’s a “cult luminary”. After a slew of successful screenings across the continent, he overestimates the film’s reach and awkwardly re-enacts “classic” moments with people who have no clue what he’s talking about. Still, George knows how bad his film is and clearly revels in its hilarity. The same can not be said for the film’s director, Claudio Fragasso.
Fragasso, an Italian horror director, truly believes he’s made a quality film. Directing from a script written by his wife, they both feel they’ve made a scathing social commentary satirizing vegetarianism. “Back in Italia,” explains Claudio, “we call this a parable.” He takes the audience’s laughter as a personal insult. “They know nothing,” he insists. As much as the documentary is about George and his new-found celebrity status, it’s also about Claudio coming to terms with what he’s made, and learning to wear the distinction of the worst movie of all time as a badge of honour.
Stephenson takes the opportunity to track down the entire cast of the film in hopes of luring them out to reunion screenings. While they don’t all accept the invitation, their interviews are the heart of the documentary. Underneath the humour is a surprisingly moving story about the people of this film and the way it changed their lives. Connie Young makes her living as an actress and has left it off her resumé, but can’t escape the infamy of her awful performance as sister Holly. Don Packard, the general store owner, reveals he shot his scenes while on leave from a mental hospital, and that it wasn’t acting — he really was just as disturbed as he appears to be. The visit to Margo Prey, George’s screen-wife, is more horrific than anything Fragasso could ever hope to film.
Best Worst Movie is more than just a love letter to a bad film. It contextualizes the nonsense and attempts to explain the unexplainable, and in doing so makes Troll 2 an even funnier film than it is on its own. Whether you’ve seen Troll 2 before or not, it doesn’t matter. This is a great film all on its own, and one of the most richly entertaining documentaries you’ll ever see.
9.3/10 | A
BEST WORST MOVIE and TROLL 2 will play as a midnight double-feature at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre on Friday, October 15th. Don’t miss it.