I may have mentioned this before but Troll 2 is pretty much some kind of work of cinematic genius. By “some kind of” I mean somewhere between Manos Hands of Fate and Citizen Kane. I’m not sure exactly where it sits, but it is clearly between those two films. Best Worst Movie follows the cult fandom of Troll 2 that has built over the course of nearly 2 decades after it’s initial release. The film explores why Troll 2 is so adored and how that adoration has effected the lives of the cast and the film’s director Claudio Fragasso. Quite brilliantly this documentary is directed by possibly the best person for the job, star of Troll 2, Michael Stephenson. Click the link for my totally unbiased review of Best Worst Movie!
So yeah, I love Troll 2. It’s a film first introduced to me around 10 or so years ago by an old work friend of mine. You can read my review of Troll 2 here. It would be quite hard of me to be 100% objective in this review, it is, after all, pretty much about the sort of fan I have become. As explained by some of the fans featured in the film, to explain what makes troll 2 such a perfectly awful film is hard. You can tell people how Joshua stops his family from eating the green food, how belt buckles need tightening and shout “OH MY GAAAAAAAWWWWWD!” at the top of your lungs to someone not in the know all day. Whatever you do won’t have the same result as just sitting them down and making them watch it. To watch Troll 2 is to love Troll 2. To love Troll 2 is to be one of the fans Best Worst Movie is about.
A large amount of the film is spent following Dentist by day George Hardy, the father from troll 2, as he splits his time between his work at his practice in Alabama and the Troll 2 screening and convention circuit. George is an a walking bundle of energy who loves the chance to be in the limelight. Thankfully he’s not a jerk with his attention seeking. He clearly gets why people love Troll 2 so much. He gets that they enjoy it because of how terrible it is and because as much as it falls apart it is constantly giving its viewer pure entertainment. That is George Hardy. The entertainment part, not the falling apart… part. He’s a healthy guy who absorbs all the love for the silly little film he was in and in return he shows an unending supply of hospitality to his fans. You just can’t piss on that hospitality. George is the crux of this film, and while an interesting documentary could have been made purely about the cult of Troll 2, without George it would have been missing a key component. Someone heeds to be having fun with this subject and George is that guy.
Throughout the film we see other members of Troll 2’s cast, many of whom follow George on the screenings circuit. Most of them clearly get the appeal too and are willing to enjoy whatever level of stardom they have earned in the eyes of their fans. They may not be proud of being in the film, Connie Young still doesn’t put Troll 2 on her resume, but they’re willing to take in the adulation while it lasts. That said, it’s hard to tell if Claudio Fragasso quite understands it’s cult status in the same way as his former cast do. You can see that he likes that people care about the film, even when they laugh at the parts he didn’t intend to be funny, but he also appears to believe that he made a genuinely great work of cinema. But oh man… he may not think it’s as good as actress Margo Prey does.
About halfway through the film George and Michael visit Margo, who still lives in the same house she did in 1989 when they were filming. This sequence strikes home the fact that these people are not actual famous stars because of this film. Their lives haven’t been filled with follow up roles and they now live in a world of obscurity. Margo says she’s stopped auditioning for roles in recent years to take care of her mother. Margo appears to have become a fragile, shy woman who is completely unaware of the stardom she holds for Troll 2 fans. She also thinks that Troll 2 is genuinely on the same level as Casablanca. Margo is clearly in a bit of a tough spot in life, although she does take the time to re-enact the row your boat scene. A scene like this elevates Best Worst Move from being a silly little documentary about an odd element of stardom into being something with heart, tragedy and a message that not many people benefit from infamy.
Best Worst Movie is a fun but also thoughtful look at the fandom even the (alleged) worst film ever made can generate. We see how lives have been touched by the love the film has received since it was taken back by the fans. The film doesn’t forget to show the negative side of this though. I mentioned Margo, but we also see a disastrous trip to a UK convention which puts into perspective just how underground this film actually is in the grand scheme of things. A similar reception is met at a US horror convention where George idly wanders around, as no-one is visiting the Troll 2 booth, talking to the stars of the Nightmare on Elm Street films and even (off camera) talks to Neil Marshall with no idea who any of these people are. Best Worst Movie is a great companion piece to Troll 2. I’d say you could happily enjoy it without having seen Troll 2, but that would suggest that I think it’s OK that you haven’t see Troll 2. Seriously, watch it.