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Best Worst Movie

By: Addison Wylie

Troll 2, a horror film released in 1989, has been named by people all over the world as “the worst movie ever made”. Its earned its title by possessing shoddy technical qualities, campy acting, and direction that is bad, to say the least. What movie goers tend to overlook is the life behind the movie; the cast and crew that took part in the filmmaking experience and how its affected them. Best Worst Movie is a look into that world.

As stated in the documentary by actress Connie Young, who played Joshua’s older sister Holly in the notoriously awful film, Troll 2 is an extremely difficult movie to describe. In a nutshell, the film is about this family that goes on a vacation to the small town of Nilbog. When they arrive at the quaint town, the towns people “subtly” try to feed them food. If someone eats this Nilbog food, that person will then turn into a plant which will make the goblins, inhabiting the town, want to eat that person because the goblins are vegetarians. Meanwhile, Joshua has been seeing ghostly images of his dead Grandpa Seth and while this goblin chaos is happening, Grandpa Seth helps Josh think of ways for him and his family to escape Nilbog.

When the film was first released, it was slammed by critics after first viewings. When IMDB.com was created, users flooded the message boards and the review sections with utter hatred for the movie and comments about it being unintentionally hilarious. Various cast members got their first peek of Troll 2 after it played on HBO; some of which couldn’t get through it out of sheer embarrassment and ended up changing the channel. Years have gone by and Troll 2 has hung around; making people drop their mouths in astonishment as to how bad the movie is. Others have been mesmerized by it. Slowly but surely, VHS copies started getting passed around and people began quoting it and holding screening parties for the film. A cult following for Troll 2 was developing. Director Michael Paul Stephenson, who played the young lead Joshua Waits in Troll 2, noticed this instantly and, thus, started his journey to make a documentary about how Troll 2 has affected the rest of the cast, the director, and the audience who has labeled Troll 2 with a cult status.

As stated in my review of the documentary Tarnation, people use different mediums to emote and use as therapy. Stephenson has been embarrassed of his work in the stinker and has been carrying the burden throughout his childhood. Now that he’s grown up and noticing how the film has left an impact on people, it’s now that he has the confidence to deal with these issues. Stephenson does a stellar job stating his opinion and looking at the movie in a new light. Sure, he may still hate the movie but he’s able to see why people appreciate the movie. He’s a filmmaker without a bias in sight and I appreciate it. Because of this direction, the film is very balanced throughout. We can side with both arguments the film is stating. However, there were a few moments where the fan dedication completely lost me. For instance, I can understand why movie goers may love the movie but to go as far as to get a tattoo commemorating the substandard flick boggles my mind. Stephenson also is a very charismatic documentarian. He is able to interact well with his interviewees as well as people who were involved with the making of Troll 2. This is greatly effective because he is then able to get authentic answers out of his subjects. A good example of this is when residents of Salt Lake, Utah are interviewed in regards to George Hardy’s performance. George Hardy, who plays Josh’s father in troll 2, is an extremely well liked dentist who resides in Salt Lake. Interviewed residents have no problem discussing their affection for the actor/dentist but also have no problem stating how dreadful Hardy’s performance is. Stephenson is also able to create intimacy to garner authenticity. In scenes where Hardy and Stephenson visit Margo Prey, the actress who played Hardy’s wife in the 1989 film, the audience gets a clear view of how disconnected she is from the outside world. The result is a blend of humour and concern; realizing that Prey is not putting on an act and seeing the uncomfortable expressions Hardy and Stephenson are emoting. However, due to Katie Graham’s and Andrew Matthews’ method of editing and under Stephenson’s direction, the film never feels like a downer but more bittersweet than anything. Scenes where Hardy, Prey and Stephenson reenact the “driving, row-row-row your boat” scene is particularly light-hearted.

I wasn’t expecting the film to take as many twists and turns in its narrative as it did. Within the first third of the documentary, the film starts to touch upon the cult status Troll 2 inhabits. Thinking that this was ultimately the film’s climax, I began to worry because I thought this was the point of the documentary; to show how exactly the film has grown. However, the documentary changes gears. We begin to see Hardy enjoy the celebrity cult status. He enjoys the feeling of making people happy by screaming out his signature lines. It’s then where the film unknowingly sprouts a subplot where Hardy warms up to the fact that his past aspirations of becoming an actor may not be dead in the water. This develops Hardy into a more interesting protagonist for the audience to follow. Our hearts are lifted when we see Hardy reenact scenes with a giant grin on his face and our heart equally sinks when we see that he’s not well received at certain genre fairs. It’s a really interesting and neat move on the documentary’s part. Another subplot that sprouts is when the audience meets Claudio Fragasso, director of Troll 2, and his screenwriter Rossella Drudi. With Fragasso making points about how Troll 2 tackles family issues and with Drudi making a comparison between her film and Casablanca, we see that both people are convinced that they have made an exceptional piece of work. The film shows how these two react to the fandom across the world and how their outlook on the film clashes greatly with how the loyal fans look at the film. A scene that stands out is when the cast is having a Q&A with audience members while admitting the film is schlock. While this happens, Claudio looks disapproving, yelling things at the actors, or “dogs” as he calls them.

Stephenson has certainly caught lightning in a bottle with his documentary. By having the cameras on at the right moments and by setting a comfortable, charismatic mood, Stephenson is able to capture authentic reactions and feelings from the cast and crew of Troll 2. With a mature, unbiased opinion, Stephenson has made a stimulating, funny, and emotional documentary that speaks volumes about how people can have different outlooks in regards to film. What may be an accomplishment to one may be “the worst movie ever made” to the rest of the world.

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Categories: Reviews
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  1. February 5, 2011 at 9:50 pm

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