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Best Worst Movie (2009)

Review by Nic Brown

 

 

I’ve watched a lot of bad movies; anyone who knows me knows that’s a fact. However, I’m a firm believer that no one sets out to make a bad movie. The director isn’t shouting “You’re trying too hard, act more wooden!” and the writer wasn’t trying to make dialogue that sounds like it came from the inside of a bubblegum wrapper. But it still happens. Films like “Werewolf”, “The Final Sacrifice” and “Manos: The Hands of Fate” didn’t just form from the nebulous social subconscious. Someone wrote them, directed them and actors… or at least people who appear on camera, showed up and said their lines. So bad films happen and there are many who say that “Troll 2” tops the list.

 

Made in 1990 on a shoestring budget, “Troll 2” stars a dentist and was directed by the Italian filmmaker who didn’t even get credit for his work on “Zombie 3”. Yet “Troll 2” has obtained a legendary status among bad films. So much so that it now has a cult following who organize special screenings around the country. It even has international recognition as being so bad it’s good. Now filmmaker Michael Stephenson (who played 12 year old Joshua Waits in “Troll 2”) has set his sights on the mystery of how a film can go from being crowned the worst film ever to becoming a cult classic loved by thousands. “Best Worst Movie” seeks to answer that question.

 

“Best Worst Movie” starts with George Hardy. He’s a successful, charismatic dentist with a practice in Alabama. It seems everyone in his small town loves George and many of them share a secret smile when they bring up his acting career. George played Michael Waits in “Troll 2”. It was his first film roll and two decades after the film’s release, he’s shocked and amazed by the love the film gets from fans. He’s often invited to conventions and screenings and asked to re-enact scenes from the movie, a task he’s more than happy to do.

 

After introducing George today, Stephenson gives us brief glimpses of some of the other co-stars. One particular favorite is Connie Young, who played Holly Waits. She’s a working actress who has worked with Robert Redford at the Sundance Film Lab. Connie leaves “Troll 2” off her resume when looking for acting work.

 

Then there is Italian director Claudio Fragasso and his wife Rossella Drudi. Claudio directed the film (under the name Drake Floyd) and Rossella is credited with writing the screenplay. Claudio and his wife are still making movies, mostly of the same caliber as “Troll 2” but he has an artist’s outlook on his product. He ascribes deep meaning to the film and points to hidden symbolism in his work. He loves that “Troll 2” has such a following, but at conventions seems somewhat annoyed that the fans don’t love the film for its artistic merits, but more for the fun of laughing at the absurdity of it and the overall poor production.


Stephenson tracks down many more cast members, finding few still working in film. But they share fond memories of the movie and their own odd notions of why the film is such a cult favorite.

 

Ultimately, Stephenson’s film doesn’t give a perfect answer as to why “Troll 2” is so loved by fans today. The truth is that I don’t believe anyone can pin down the formula that turns an awful movie into a cult classic. What is obvious though is that one key is for the filmmakers themselves to love the movie and respect their fans. When asked if George Hardy would play his character again in “Troll 3” he doesn’t hesitate. Of course her would. So perhaps it’s the heart behind the film that makes people love it so. One thing is for certain, any fan of B-Movies will enjoy “Best Worst Movie”. This documentary never takes itself too seriously as it highlights the fans and filmmakers behind the cult phenomenon. So check out Michael Stephenson’s “Best Worst Movie” today and remember when you’re going to the town of Nilbog, you’d better bring your baloney sandwiches!




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