The people who made Troll 2 – a 1990 horror flick often called the worst movie since Ed Wood directed Plan 9 from Outer Space – were apparently a few tokens short at the troll-booth.
Michael Stephenson, child star of Troll 2, has now directed Best Worst Movie, a fascinating probe into the power of celebrity, both real and imagined. Stephenson’s documentary examines the forces and people that propelled Troll 2 from straight-to-HBO joke into a major event at midnight screenings and memorabilia shows. The documentary is an endless parade of loons, imbeciles, boneheads, knuckleheads, and delusional boobs. I honestly can’t tell you who’s crazier, the fans or the moviemakers, so I’ll drop a few quotes and let you decide.
George Hardy is the star of both Troll 2 and Stephenson’s documentary. Good-natured, goofy, and game-for-anything, Hardy is now an Alabama dentist who skyrocketed to cult-movie superstar status at conventions and screenings of “the worst movie ever made.” Says one fan about George’s entrance at a screening: “You would have thought that Robert De Niro had come into the building.”
Says George’s mother of her son’s acting talent: “Let’s say he’s no Cary Grant.”
Says Claudio Fragasso, the proud, temperamental, and Italian director of Troll 2: “I don’t make movies to be praised by critics. Troll 2 is a film that examines many serious and important issues – like eating, living, and dying. People want to eat this family.”
Says stuffed-animal lover and Troll 2 actor Don Packard about his experience at the original movie’s casting call: “I was in the mental hospital at the University of Utah, and they gave me days off to go out. I went there.” Packard explains his state of mind during filming: “I smoked an enormous amount of pot then to stay sane. It was a terrible experience making that movie. I remember there was a little kid there [Stephenson], a little Mormon kid who was really a pain in the ass and he was a star, and I wanted to kill him.”
Says Troll 2 screenwriter Rossella Drudi, explaining why her movie trolls are all vegetarian: “At that point in my life, I had many friends who’d all become vegetarians, and it pissed me off.”
Says Margo Prey, who played Hardy’s wife and Stephenson’s mother: “You compare our movie to a Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart movie, and it fits in. Because our movie was all about people, and the experiences those people were experiencing, just as Casablanca and those movies are about people and the experiences they are experiencing.”
Says Robert Ormsby, who played Stephenson’s grandfather: “Mostly I’ve wasted my life. More or less I’ve frittered my life away, but then what else is there to do with a life but fritter it away?”
Says Fragasso to George: “You were a dog, and you are a dog.”
Says Fragasso about the fans at a recent Troll 2 screening: “These people are crazy. It’s not normal.”
At times I found myself laughing out loud at these oddballs; at other times I thought the film might be an elaborate hoax (thanks a lot, Casey Affleck). One critic calls Best Worst Movie “touching.” I call it “disturbing.” But I also call it “very funny” and “charming.” It’s enough to drive me nuts. Grade: B+
Director: Michael Stephenson Featuring: George Hardy, Michael Stephenson, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, Jason Wright, Margo Prey, Connie Young, Robert Ormsby, Don Packard Release: 2010
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