Movie List
Loading ...
Find Theaters and Movie Times
Search Movies

Review: Best Worst Movie

Exploring Troll 2 's fascinatingly watchable badness
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 2, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars


In 1989, Claudio Fragrasso, an Italian director barely fluent in English, came to a rural area of Utah to make a movie called Goblin. Filmed over three weeks, the movie — which was renamed Troll 2, a purported but utterly unrelated sequel to a film called Troll, and which features no trolls — never found its way to theaters, but its fascinatingly watchable badness (and presence on HBO) gave it a cult afterlife.

Twenty years later, Troll 2’s child star (Michael Paul Stevenson) shot Best Worst Movie, a relatively nostalgic portrait of the film’s curious afterlife. Best Worst Movie is framed around a sort of anniversary tour of Troll 2 screenings, which prove so popular as to bemuse the film’s cast and crew, most of whom had all but deleted the film from their resumes. Troll 2’s star, a gregarious and burly dentist named George Hardy, is a beloved dentist and father in Alabama, and he serves as Stevenson’s protagonist, relishing the fame he never knew he had.

Apart from Hardy, whose thrill in the limelight is infectious, Best Worst Movie has a lot going for it. The film offers a strong argument for why certain objects of kitsch are adopted by eccentric fans (they praise Troll 2’s sincerity, its fascinatingly valiant attempt to be good and honest in the face of its lunacy, mediocre talent, and irredeemable script), and interesting examples of how the film has been picked up by pop culture and the general citizenry (comedians from the Upright Citizens Brigade are big fans, and we meet one soldier who brought a copy of Troll 2 to the Green Zone in Baghdad). Its best moments come when Troll 2’s director crashes the anniversary tour. His shock upon learning that his film is not just a cult but a camp classic is priceless: “they laugh at things that weren’t made to be laughed at,” he says. (Later, Troll 2’s editor makes the case that the film inspired the Harry Potter series.)

Given the director’s past with his subjects, Best Worst Movie does some tip-toeing around potentially awkward subjects. What are Fragrasso’s other films like? What’s the deal with Margo Prey, Hardy’s Troll 2 co-star, who refuses to participate in the film’s anniversary celebrations and is now a paranoid recluse whose dream is to “go away somewhere where no one can find me”? Stevenson’s reticence to probe his fellow cast members is disappointing, but Best Worst Movie is still a winning debut, and thankfully judicious with its use of clips from Troll 2: that new classic will be shown after the documentary’s June 11 screening.

Related: Review: Best Worst Movie (2010), Review: Dark Shadows, Boo-ya!, More more >
  Topics: Reviews , Entertainment, George Hardy, George Hardy,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   TEN YEARS, A WAVE  |  September 26, 2014
    As the festival has evolved, examples of Fowlie’s preferred breed of film—once a small niche of the documentary universe—have become a lot more common, a lot more variegated, and a lot more accomplished.
  •   GIRLS (AND BOYS) ON FILM  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine International Film Festival, now in its 17th year in Waterville, remains one of the region’s more ambitious cultural institutions, less bound by a singular ambition than a desire to convey the breadth and depth of cinema’s past and present. (This, and a healthy dose of music and human-interest documentaries.) On that account, MIFF ’14 is an impressive achievement, offering area filmgoers its best program in years. With so much to survey, let’s make haste with the recommendations. (Particularly emphatic suggestions are marked in bold print.)  
  •   AMERICAN VALUES  |  June 11, 2014
    The Immigrant  seamlessly folds elements of New York history and the American promise into a story about the varieties of captivity and loyalty.
  •   CHARACTER IS POLITICAL  |  April 10, 2014
    Kelly Reichardt, one of the most admired and resourceful voices in American independent cinema, appears at the Portland Museum of Art Friday night to participate in a weekend-long retrospective of her three most recent films.
  •   LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX  |  April 09, 2014
    Throughout its two volumes and four hours of explicit sexuality, masochism, philosophical debate, and self-analysis, Nymphomaniac remains the steadfast vision of a director talking to himself, and assuming you’ll be interested enough in him to listen and pay close attention.

 See all articles by: CHRISTOPHER GRAY