Troll 2 is not a good movie. It's not even a bad movie. It is an entity unto itself, a conundrum of film-making that rivals Plan 9 from Outer Space in terms of its ability to invoke unintentional laughter and unforgivable groans. No other film is worthy of the phrase "so good it's bad" than Troll 2, so perhaps this is why it has become an unlikely cult phenomenon, attracting thousands of viewers to special screenings across the country nearly two decades later. This is what Michael Stephenson, child-actor and star of Troll 2, wanted to explore in his phenomenal documentary Best Worst Movie.
Although ostensibly about George Hardy, the Alabama dentist-cum-cult celebrity who portrayed Stephenson's father, Best Worst Movie focuses heavily on the cult status of the film and the impact it has had on those not just involved with its production but the devoted fans around the country who fill packed theaters, hold Troll 2 parties, and even get tattoos in celebration of the 'best worst movie' ever made. Stephenson and Hardy travel the country visiting film festivals and interviewing fans in an effort to answer the question "Why is this movie so loved?" Through this they reconnect with the original cast members, including the director and writer, and through candid interviews and a myriad of screenings we're given an intimate look at the impact this seemingly forgetful low-budget monstrosity of a film has had not just on their lives, but on the very nature of fandom as a whole.
The end result is endlessly humorous, delightfully awkward and utterly tragic. Before being made aware of the cult status of the film, most involved were content with living their lives in relative obscurity, with one cast member going as far as leaving it off of her resume to avoid it ruining her chances of receiving future acting work. Most are open to becoming unlikely celebrities, such as George Hardy, upon whom much of the film is focused, while others, in perhaps one of the most tragic parts of the film, prefer a life of obscurity and isolation while hoping for her next big break. Their sudden celebrity status is given merit with footage from the sold out screenings across the country, including interviews with many big names in the industry (including our own Editor-in-Chief Scott Weinberg) showcasing just how a film so forgettable and so undeniably terrible can bring together people from all walks of life in celebration.
While the actors and fans are aware of how bad the film is, director Claudio Fragasso is resolute in his belief that the film is good. So when Stephenson and Hardy fly to Italy to talk to him about the film's cult status, he is taken aback over how people can poke fun at a film he truly feels is worthy of praise for its exploration of family, life and death. He accompanies the rest of the cast to a number of screenings, expressing his disdain at the fans for mocking the film while simultaneously praising the notion that even though it's bad, it has had a positive impact on thousands upon thousands of people. Such a line brought a smile to my face, as I feel it encompasses exactly what being a fan of horror is all about: the appreciation of films beyond their intent, beyond what is seen solely on the surface.
Best Worst Movie is a celebration not just of the worst movie ever made, but of fandom as a whole. While the film clearly appeals to those who have some sort of intimate connection with Troll 2, it is just as entertaining, informative and engaging for those who have yet to even see the cinematic phenomenon. Once you watch Best Worst Movie, however, your number one priority will be to obtain a copy and experience the tragic comedy for yourself.