If it were just about the unlikely adoration surrounding an awful film, Best Worst Movie would probably still be plenty entertaining. But like most really good movies of any kind, it ends up being about a lot more than what’s on the surface.
In the summer of 1989, then-11-year-old Michael Paul Stevenson was cast as the lead in a Morgan, Utah-filmed microbudget horror film that was originally called Goblin. That film became Troll 2, and its epic amateurishness earned it both the all-time-lowest rating on the Internet Movie Database for a period, and a devoted cult following. Nearly 20 years after making the movie, Stevenson sets out as a documentary filmmaker to understand both of those realities, and to track down those he worked with to get their perspective on Troll 2’s legacy.
In so doing, he introduces us to several fascinating characters, including George Hardy, the jovial Alabama dentist who played Stevenson’s father, and Don Packard, who literally emerged from a mental hospital to shoot his creepy villain role in the film. Most fascinating of all is Troll 2’s Italian director Claudio Fragasso, who remains convinced that Troll 2 is actually a good movie, and who alternates between seething over the actors’ snarky comments and relishing the fan affection showered on the film at special “reunion” screenings.
What emerges from these profiles is a genuinely warmhearted look at what some interviewed critics refer to as Troll 2’s “sincerity”—that Ed Wood-like quality that emerges when people are genuinely trying to make a good movie but just don’t know any better (or know how to communicate in English). And in Hardy, we see someone whose enthusiasm for his improbable fame says a lot about how art—even bad art—touches people. There’s nothing like being part of a memorable movie, and now Stevenson has done it—twice.
BEST WORST MOVIE
May 28-29, 7 & 9 p.m.