Best Worst Movie
August 5, 2010 by Zack
In 1990, a little movie appeared on HBO’s schedule an awful lot called “Troll 2”. Bearing no resemblance and having nothing to do with the 1986 “Troll”, there was already something off about this movie. But that title was just one of the many, many things wrong with the film. First, there were no actual trolls in it (they were referred to as “goblins” which is a different race in folklore); second, the film up and down, left and right (B,A,B,A select start) was just downright…terrible.
But there was something about it that was highly amusing, too. Lines like “You can’t piss on hospitality! I won’t allow it!” and “They’re eating her! Then they’re going to eat me! OH MY GOOOOOOOODDDDDDDDD!!!!” echoed through your ears and made you laugh.
The film was a colossal failure and for years; it was forgotten about.
Until about 2004. The Internet Movie Database had ranked “Troll 2” as the #1 Worst Movie of All Time (by user ratings). In the message boards, some of the former cast members (Darren Ewing, Jason Wright, Michael Paul Stephenson) actually responded to some of the threads started by “fans” of the movie. It was so bad…it was good.
And then, a screening took place in Utah. And from there, “Troll 2” began to gain popularity.
“Best Worst Movie” is the documentary on how the film was made, how it was completed and marketed, and how the cult phenomenon started and how it’s grown. It’s produced and directed by Michael Paul Stephenson who played Joshua, the main character of “Troll 2”. Throughout the documentary he’s mostly joined by George Hardy, a boisterous and constantly smiling guy who played the father. And like a real life father and son pair, the two tour all over the country trying to find the other cast members and put a reunion back together–meanwhile, they shop their merchandise around at various conventions that George Hardy really don’t understand nor cares to be a part of.
The cast members are sometimes successful, and sometimes reclusive hermits that are sad (and somewhat frightening) to see; the successful ones, like Jason Wright who is a New York Times best selling author and Darren Ewing who fronts a band as well as still does some light acting, are more reassuring.
What I like most about this film is how honest it is with its status as a cult phenomenon. There are scenes in which a lot of fans are lined up for midnight screenings, and shots of video games and schwag that people have come up with; but the scenes in which George Hardy, Darren Ewing, and Michael Paul Stephenson take their show on the road to different conventions and realize there isn’t anyone who’s either heard of or cared about their precious movie reveals that they understand this isn’t “Rocky Horror Picture Show”–yet.
George Hardy is probably the most entertaining personality in the film; and he knows it. But he’s not arrogant. He’s a chipper, sprightly gentleman from Alabama who just knows how to charm the pants off you.
The other big personality of the film is the film’s director, who is completely oblivious to the irony of how people “love” his movie. He talks (in Italian) to someone on the phone in his hotel room saying the people love it. They laugh at the funny parts…then they laugh at the parts that are not so funny, too.
There’s a great scene in which he rips his actors to shreds while they rip the movie to shreds at a screening. Jason Wright, who played Elliot (the “love interest” of the main girl), and another cast member say that they didn’t understand. The director basically says, “you didn’t understand then and you still don’t understand because you’re dogs.” And then he promptly leaves.
The fact that he and his co-screenwriter believe they created something wonderful, and the rest of the cast believe they created something totally baffling, is perhaps why this movie is so cherished. It’s not cynical; it’s not forced. It’s not typical “Hollywood tripe” even if it is a bad movie. It’s an honest attempt at making something good; and a complete failure at every level.
In other words, Ed Wood would have loved this film.
And this documentary does a great job of showing just exactly why you can fall in love with “Troll 2”. I certainly did, about 10 years ago.
Personal note: I am an admitted fan of “Troll 2”. I had conversations with Darren and Jason on IMDB back in 2004; I joined the MySpace group back in 2006; I have an autographed VHS and DVD. I have met George Hardy and Michael Paul Stephenson and got my picture taken with them. I have gone to the Chicago screening of the film, and saw this film. I own a Nilbog tee-shirt. I know you’re all happy for me. But I also wrote a song, or re-wrote the “Nilbog Anthem” played toward the end of the film, in a rock-style and had put it up on Youtube a few years ago. I’m attaching it below for your viewing/listening pleasure. Enjoy! And remember, you can’t piss on hospitality. I. Won’t. Allow. It.