Directed by: Michael Stephenson
Premise: A documentary looking at the cult following around the low budget film Troll 2, which is considered to be one of the worst films of all time.
What Works: Best Worst Movie takes a look both at the fans and filmmakers behind Troll 2 and it finds some interesting things. On the side of the fans, Best Worst Movie attempts to explain why this disreputable and forgettable little movie has found such a loyal audience and the reasons seem to be rooted in a deep sense of irony but also an admiration for its authenticity and its defects. In today’s filmmaking world even low budget films have increasingly polished appearances but so much of it is hollow; it lacks creativity or passion. Best Worst Movie shows how a film like Troll 2 attracts a certain audience because of its organic qualities not just in spite of all its flaws but largely because of them. On the behalf of the filmmakers, the documentary catches up with the main cast, namely George Hardy, and finds out what they have been up to since the film’s release. If not a good actor, Hardy is a natural entertainer and his story is the narrative strand that extends through and unifies the film. While Best Worst Movie gives Hardy an opportunity to enjoy some of the fame of Troll 2 it also shows some of the limits of that fame and of Troll 2’s appeal. And in this Best Worst Movie is not only an examination of this obscure cult film and its audience but it is also a look at some of the hard realities of low budget filmmaking and it provides perspective on where the science fiction and horror genres have gone. Troll 2 was made by people who didn’t really know what they were doing (which is apparent in the finished product) at a time when science fiction was still on the fringes of respectability and the number of people making this kind of film was relatively small. And, at that time, these kinds of films were consumed by an audience that wasn’t as jaded. In today’s market the science fiction audience is far more sophisticated but also more cynical due to a marketplace that is saturated with $100 million dollar productions put out by major studios. And in that environment, Troll 2 has been embraced perhaps as a hip reactionary move against the Hollywood marketing machine.
What Doesn’t: There are some moments of Best Worst Movie that are rather sad and even tread on exploitation. A few of the actors involved with the film have not had a successful life, of any kind, since its production and to drag these people out into the spotlight seems a little cruel. To its credit, the movie does handle these people with a degree of care and sensitivity but those moments are a little uncomfortable to watch.
DVD extras: Commentary track, deleted scenes, and interviews.
Bottom Line: Best Worst Movie is a fun documentary about fan devotion. It is extraordinary that Troll 2 has survived and even thrived and its longevity is a testament to the power of consumers of media to save and preserve the movies that they love.
Episode: #333 (April 2, 2011)