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Michael Paul Stephenson
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In 1989, unwitting Utah actors starred in the undisputed Worst Movie in History: TROLL 2. Two decades later, the legendarily inept film's child star unravels the improbable, heartfelt story of an Alabama dentist-turned-cult movie icon and an Italian filmmaker who come to terms with this genuine, internationally revered cinematic failure.Written by
The film Troll 2 has become something of a cult item in the last five or six years. It's one of the movies that truly defines the term 'so bad it's good'. It's a consistently ridiculous film that is so very amusing because it so clearly never intentionally tries to be funny at any point. Its mixture of earnest endeavour, cinematic hopelessness and general strangeness aligns it alongside the much-loved yet utterly inept work of Ed Wood. It's really a very rare occasion for any film to achieve the very specific anti-brilliance of Troll 2. So with this in mind, it only seems right that a documentary has been made to celebrate its existence.
It focuses mainly on two things. The people involved in the making of the film and the audiences it has subsequently attracted. What it doesn't do – and this is a mistake in my opinion – is tell us how the movie came to be made in the first place. It doesn't even answer the question that many people find the most obvious – why is it called Troll 2 when there aren't any trolls in it? I think the story of Troll 2 warranted a little more historical context and background info, as much of the facts are fascinating in themselves.
That said I did enjoy Best Worst Movie and think it's great it was made at all. I remember back in 2005 Michael Stephenson the director and child star in the film frequented the IMDb boards with other cast members and he did say back then that he was planning on making this very documentary. I must say I thought it would never happen but fortunately I was incorrect. George Hardy, the father in the film, emerges as a real star; a very likable man who seems to have lapped up his bizarre fame. Although the real main man of the piece turns out to be director Claudio Fragasso. Every time he was on screen was gold. He was a living embodiment to what made Troll 2 so entertaining in the first place, i.e. committed artistic seriousness and a refreshing lack of irony. Fragasso truly believed that Troll 2 was loved so much because it was a complex family drama. Although he at least didn't go as far as to compare it with Casablanca as Margo Prey did without any sense of jest. Prey was clearly a disturbed woman. But then so was Don Packard, the man who played the drugstore owner, he in fact was an out-patient at a sanatorium when the film was made. So this is surely an example of fact being as strange as fiction. Well, almost.
Best Worst Movie is ultimately a perfect accompaniment to Troll 2 itself. The documentary somewhat strangely does not really focus on the content of the film itself. There are numerous clips of course but they're never commented on and many of the best parts are bizarrely not featured in the first place. This would perhaps be more of a problem if you didn't have the movie itself to enjoy afterwards. Ultimately Best Worst Movie is a look at a group of people who were inadvertently involved in making a movie that not one of them could have imagined in their wildest dreams would go on to become something of a cult classic. It's a strange story but one worth knowing about.
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