Best Worst Movie: Making the best of a bad situation

It's Jim again,

If there is anything people enjoy more than a good movie, it’s a bad movie. In fact, it’s a SPECTACULARLY bad movie. There is something pleasing about seeing an unqualified fiasco come to completion that is morbidly captivating. As much as I enjoy “Boondock Saints,” I have a special fascination with its unwatchable sequel. Just knowing the number of steps necessary to finish and release a film, and knowing that at no point during that lengthy and involved process did anyone step up and say, “You know, maybe this thing isn’t… well, it kinda sucks. Are we sure we want to do this?” amazes me.

Few movies hit such a sublime level of disaster as fully or as cleanly as the now legendary “Troll 2.” Though I have personally never seen it I have been fully aware of its existence for years. I haven’t avoided it, I just haven’t been interested. Horror really isn’t my thing. All I know is that there is nary a troll to be seen throughout and the entire thing was helmed by a man who didn’t really speak English.

Originally called “Goblins,” the cast and crew of this film was comprised of three different types of people:

1) Those who had never worked on a film before.

2) Those who didn’t speak English.

3) A crazy old man who didn’t seem to be aware that there were cameras present.

The only way they could have set themselves up for disaster any more is if they shot without a script, which it seems like they did at times.

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So, the movie gets released as “Troll 2” despite the total absence of trolls and the absolute lack of connection to the original “Troll” film and is immediately identified as a singular example of cinematic failure. But, as I stated earlier, just because it’s doesn’t mean people won’t love it. “Best Worst Movie,” is a documentary about what happens when a movie this bad lands in a world that loves movies that are this bad.

Up front, this is a good documentary but it’s also a bit scattered and unfocused. It’s not exclusively for fans of “Troll 2,” but being a fan doesn’t hurt. A lot of people lose their minds over this film and I guess I sort of get that, but I think that comes more from getting into the spirit of the thing than the actual filmmaking.

My only problem is, as I said before, how unfocused it feels. First time writer/director Michael Stephenson (star of the subject film “Troll 2”) does a solid job of delving into the world of Troll 2, catching up with the cast in “where are they now” interviews, examining all the things that went wrong during production, and immersing us in the “cult of Troll 2,” that has sprung up among horror fans over the years. If it sounds like there is a lot going on here, there is.

What makes this documentary good but not great is the filmmakers attempt to include too much. There isn’t a central thrust. We get an introduction of George Hardy, the father in the film, now a beloved dentist in Alabama. You find out about him, his life since the film, how he came to be involved in the film and how it has impacted his life. You meet the filmmaker, star of the original film, who discusses some of the great and not so great things about being in a film like this. The film then jumps into the world of the obsessed fans that hold annual screenings, travel great distances for theatrical screenings, get tattoos, and in general elevate this film to its mythic status.

Then they spend some time discussing where the film went wrong, talk to the director who gets rather belligerent at the mere suggestion that there is anything wrong with his film. They travel to the original filming locations, attend an Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Road Show, put on a screening in Hardy’s home town for charity, go to merchandize and horror film conventions, and… well, there is a lot going on.

At the end of this film I definitely felt more informed and had been entertained, but I was also puzzled. There didn’t seem to be any real thesis here. There was a lot going on and it was interesting, funny, and sad at times, but I’m still not really sure what the director wanted me to take away from this. Every time it feels like it’s going in a focused direction something pops up and pulls the film in a new direction. It’s interesting, but it definitely takes the focus away.

I will say this; the film does an outstanding job of capturing the frustration that comes with being a part of something like this. You cans see that for as much as he loves the “fame” George Hardy begins to see how much of a trap it is. With the recognition comes the endless repetition of his signature line, “You can’t piss on hospitality, I won’t allow it,” and that for all the excitement of the screenings, there is little interest in the rest of the world (there are a few fairly uncomfortable scenes at different conventions that are a little hard to watch).

The small things that keep a good movie from being great are very similar to the things that keep a bad move from being so spectacularly awful that it becomes good again. “Troll 2” achieved the latter by quite literally getting everything from script to cinematography wrong. “Best Worst Movie” almost achieves the former but tries to encapsulate too much of this unbelievable world to really cross over. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good film, but it just falls short of being the great film it could have been.



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