See This: Best Worst Movie and Troll 2
By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 30, 2010 7:00PM
There are bad movies, there are really bad movies, and there are bad movies that are so bad that they're good. And then there's Troll 2. A straight-to-VHS horror flick which featured no trolls, bore no relationship whatsoever to Troll 1, and showcased more righteously bad acting than seem possible for 95 minutes, Troll 2 was so bad that it became renowned for its badness. So renowned, in fact, that eventually it accrued a coveted cult status: it has long since shed its infamous IMDB anointment as "worst film of all-time" and become a midnight staple of art house cinemas everywhere.
You'll have to trust us when we declare it pointless to relate the plot of Troll 2. Suffice it to say that it involves goblins, vegetarianism, turning humans into plants, dead grandfathers and family anxieties. Oh and Stonehenge. The only thing smaller than the budget was the Italian director's understanding of the English language. The costumes and special effects are endearingly tragic. The music is seemingly collected from the worst outtakes of Dario Argento's films of the 80s. There is absolutely nothing this movie gets right.
And yet, through some sort of bad movie alchemical transmutation, each execrable aspect achieves harmony with the rest, producing a genuinely fun-to-watch result. Despite its reputation (and Ebert is right to point out that any critic spoiling it's perfect 0% tomatometer rating would instantly become public enemy #1), Troll 2 is nowhere close to being the worst movie of all time. Nothing this watchable, created in earnestness and with such an obvious amount of love, could be the worst anything. I'd recommend it over some recent Oscar winners in a heartbeat.
The movie's journey from the video store dustbin to darling of the cult circuit is related in a modest but endearing little documentary called Best Worst Movie, which is far better than it has any right to be. We follow the actors and former actors who had either forgotten or swept under the rug their involvement in what was universally thought to be an embarassment as they become aware of the film's iconically bad status. The story centers on the irrepressible George Hardy, now a dentist in small town Alabama, who had portrayed the father, and is directed by Michael Paul Stephenson, who starred in Troll 2 as the kid who saves the day, but along the way you'll get to see the Italian Director who still thinks of the movie seriously, the guy who played a crazy guy who was, it turned out, crazy, and the poor kid who had to have his own Chuck Taylors nailed to the set, and everybody else you could hope to see.
The cast's evolution from pretending it never happened to eventual embrace of the film-going community who uncynically embraced their collective disaster is a fun and revealing tale in its own right. It's almost magic watching the evolution from plausible deniability, to curiosity at the thousands of MySpace comments, to sold out screenings around the world and Upright Citizens Brigade-endorsed re-enactments, and beyond. But if there is something irresistible in the sincerity and devotion of true fandom, there can be something off-putting about its exploitation, and we get a little bit of that too (when the cast tries and fails to cash in at memorabilia conventions).If both Best Worst Movie and Troll 2 are a little longer than they should be, it will be forgiven, because they because by the end we realize how much fun we had along the way.
We agree with the words of unnamed spectator in Best Worst Movie: "Bad food is bad and bad books are bad but bad movies aren't always bad." If you are a fan of bad movies, a connoisseur of camp, or have any interest in cult cinema, you owe it to yourself to see Troll 2. This weekend is the perfect opportunity, as you can catch a double feature of Best Worst Movie and Troll 2, with appearances by its two stars George Hardy and Michael Paul Stephenson, on both Friday and Saturday nights at 9:45 at The Music Box.
Best Worst Movie/Troll 2 double feature, Tonight and Saturday July 31, 9:45 p.m., Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave, $12
Best Worst Movie shows at the Music Box through Thursday, August 5