Best Worst Movie

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In Best Worst Movie (2009), Troll 2 (1989) actor Michael Stephenson turns his camera to the cult following that has grown around Troll 2 in the years since its release. Stephenson tracks his fellow cast members down to see where life has taken them, then looks at how they engage with the legacy of this infamous film. As the title of the documentary suggests the allure of Troll 2 is that it’s bad.

Stephenson documents the watch-parties, reunions, and public screenings that form the basis of the Troll 2 following. Best Worst Movie is a sincere portrait of fandom in action to promote and celebrate a film. The cast and crew of Troll 2 either join in or become further isolated by this fandom. It’s in this relationship that the drama of Stephenson’s documentary exists.

Troll 2 director Claudio Fragasso believes he made a traditional film and is baffled by the laughter of the audience and the behind-the-scenes stories the cast often shares. Troll 2 star George Hardy is quick to join the community of fans and becomes the face of the movement while his co-star Margo Prey has become a paranoid recluse. As Stephenson records these very different relationships with Troll 2 his gaze becomes almost exploitative. Are we to laugh at George Hardy when no one wants his autograph at a convention? Are Fragasso’s frustrated diatribes meant to be funny?

But the whole notion of “so bad it’s good” makes no sense. Films like Troll 2, Uninvited (1988), or Tammy & The T-Rex (1994) aren’t bad movies because they are so cherished and loved. And these films are loved because they are wholly unique and inspired acts of cinema. No other films look or sound like these movies. These films possess an appeal outside of the normal Hollywood production. These are outsider films for outsiders. This aspect of Troll 2 is never really explored by Stephenson who instead further marginalizes Troll 2 and its “newfound” audience by dealing in absolutes. To Stephenson Troll 2 is a bad movie that has become a fetish object.