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4 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Best Worst Movie
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by Lybarger

"There are more trolls in this movie than in ‘Troll 2.’"
4 stars

The tile of ‘Worst Film Ever Made’ is arbitrary. Nonetheless, Claudio Fragasso’s 1990 effort ‘Troll 2’ is a worthy contender. It features laughably wooden acting, bizarrely awkward dialog, unconvincing special effects and a story that makes less sense than an Edward Lear limerick.

Oh, did I mention there are no trolls in the film?

There isn’t an Andalusian dog in Luis Bunuel’s "Un chien andalou," but come on!

The film’s distributors hoped to bill the movie as a sequel to the 1986 chiller “Troll,” which starred Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Noah Hathaway, even though Fragasso’s effort was completely unrelated.

Viewers managed to ignore the faux sequel anyway.
In spite of and because of its astonishing ineptitude, the Utah-shot “Troll 2” is strangely mesmerizing. You never know what incomprehensible line is going to come bellowing out of a character’s mouth.

When George Hardy declares, “You can’t piss on hospitality! I won’t allow it,” it’s as stunning as anything Orson Welles or Jean Renoir ever put on the screen because the moment originates from no earthly place. What exactly can you say about a movie that concerns vegetarian goblins who feed humans dishes that turn them into plants, so they can become a goblin’s buffet?
Perhaps that’s why the Cinefile video store in Santa Monica has placed the film in their “Holy Fucking Shit” section.

This “HFS” quality has made the film a cult favorite. In screenings across the United States in recent years, the box office has consistently sold out even though the film was never released theatrically and is readily available on VHS and DVD.

Watching “Troll 2” rising from the cinematic sewer into the hearts of eager geeks is weirdly inspiring, so it’s a natural subject for subject for a documentary. “Best Worst Movie” is pretty much guaranteed to be made more competently than its subject matter, but what makes the newer film charming is that director Michael Paul Stephenson knows where to focus his attention.

If you’re a fan of “Troll 2,” you’ll probably recognize Stephenson’s name because as an 11-year-old, he was the unfortunate star of the film. Instead of spending the film whining about how his acting career was wrecked by his participation in the debacle, Stephenson spends most of the film following his onscreen father, George Hardy.

Dr. Hardy is a gregarious Alabama dentist, who as his ex-wife declares in the film, is impossible not to like. In addition to delighting local parade goers in his rollerblading toothy fairy costume, he’s treated poor children free of charge. Until recently, he’s understandably kept silent about his involvement with “Troll 2.”

As screenings pop up around the nation, Hardy revels in his belated stardom. He also discovers that his dream of being a full-time actor might not have been so wonderful. At a horror convention, he encounters legions of thespians who make their livings signing autographs because the films that once made the famous are three decades old. As much as Hardy loves the limelight, he’ll admit it gets old having to recite the “hospitality” line as often as Celine Dion sings “My Heart Will Go On.”

Hardy’s innate charm (how many dentists do you know have such a genial bedside manner?) carries the film, but many of the supporting characters are fascinating as well. Most of the performers who appeared in the low-budgeted film freely admit they are not professional thespians.

The actors who did manage to find work after “Troll 2” have wisely left if off their résumés. Many, like Hardy, have gone on to rewarding careers away from films. Teen lead Jason Wright, for example, has had a long string of bestselling books and articles that easily makes up for his stillborn film career.

Because many of the performers were simply locals who were available in Utah when Fragasso and his Italian crew came to make the film, some actually look on the legendary turkey as a highlight in their lives. Stephenson’s onscreen mom Margo Prey has been reluctant to take part in the film’s growing popularity because she’s caring for her elderly mother. She might also not do well under the spotlight. When Stephenson interviews her, she, without a hint of irony, compares “Troll 2” to “Casablanca.”

If her taste in film borders on delusional, she’s not the only person who thinks it’s a masterpiece. The segments of the film where Fragasso and his wife, screenwriter Rossella Drudi, discuss their work, you’d think you were listening to Bernardo Bertolucci and Clare Peploe talking about their classics. Fragasso has a long IMDB page and an arrogant attitude, but he’s specialized in making horror films that rip off better examples of the genre. The film’s editor, Vanio Amici, even declares that “Troll 2” was an important precursor for the “Harry Potter” series.

Drudi, who was inspired by how self-righteous her vegetarian friends had become, claims the film deals with important themes. If you figure out these themes, please send me an e-mail using the link below. Thanks to a combination of unswerving egotism and a limited grasp of American English, Drudi’s awkwardly translated material would probably sound hilariously bizarre even if Daniel Day Lewis recited it.

Thankfully, Stephenson avoids mocking his fellow 'Troll 2' veterans excessively. When Fragasso gets to see the actual reels for a print of 'Troll 2' that’s about to be presented, he looks visibly moved because the film went straight to video. It’s difficult not to share his joy. After all, bad films need love, too.

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originally posted: 05/19/10 02:38:57
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Independent Film Festival of Boston 2009 For more in the Independent Film Festival Boston 2009 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival For more in the 2009 SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2009 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Starz Denver Film Festival For more in the 2009 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/22/14 Richard Brandt BEST WORST MOVIE: Accidental celebrity as first bracing, then unnerving, finally tiresome 4 stars
6/08/10 David Hollingsworth Insightful on every level! 4 stars
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  DVD: 16-Nov-2010


  DVD: 16-Nov-2010

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