Director: Michael Stephenson
Starring: George Hardy, Michael Stephenson, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, Claudio Fragasso
The story behind the worst movie ever made – Troll 2
In 1989, A group of inexperienced actors took the job of working on a small film called Goblin, which would end up being renamed into Troll 2, even though it has nothing to do with the first Troll movie. The film ended up being quite awful, but thanks to its low score on sites such as IMDB it ended up gaining popularity by fans of bad films.
Now, twenty years later, the actor who played little Joshua in Troll 2 sets out to find his old co-stars and filmmakers to see how this film has affected their lives and also document why the film has gathered so many fans during the years.
Troll 2 was at the bottom (or top, depending on how you look at it) on the IMDB.com list, making it earn the title of worst movie ever made. In the last years though, it has moved away from the very bottom and as of writing this, it sits on a #95 spot with a whopping 2.5 stars out of 10.
I first saw Troll 2 when I bought the double DVD with the first Troll on it. Both movies are crappy, with the first one nearly working as a decent fantasy film for kids and the second just being terrible. However, it is far from the worst movie ever made and would probably not even make a top ten list if I were to make one. Want proof? Try finding Rockin’ With A Bullet from 1987, Cannibal Hookers or The Amityville Haunting.
I also don’t believe that a movie that entertains people can be called terrible. Movies are entertainment and if it provides it, intentionally or not, then it’s not awful. Awful movies are those that are painful to sit through. That being said, Troll 2 would get a crappy rating from me since I did not find it as much fun as most of the fans in this documentary does.
It is surprising that they started to make a documentary on this. I’m guessing that Michael Stephenson had no idea that it would turn into something like this, but he got very lucky considering how different lives his co-stars have lived since the production wrapped up. They all tell a different story, making this a very rich documentary that tackles a lot of subjects.
One thing it doesn’t really cover is the film itself. I guess that’s because the ones involved with it hardly understood anything about it and have trouble understanding the fascination fans have with it today. It does let the fans share their views though and we get to see some small get togethers for the film and even own theatrical screenings with the cast and director in the audience.
It’s remarkable for someone like me, sitting here in Norway, that there is actually people out in the USA that have gotten a screening of Troll 2 to happen and not only that – sell out the tickets aswell! Even if I don’t think the movie is fun, I would still go to see such a cult film like this on the big screen. One of the funnier moments in the documentary for me was to see a store actually having a “Holy Fucking Shit” section. Awesome.
Instead of focusing on himself, Stephenson seems to be more comfortable focusing on other people. We don’t really get to know the guy at all and what he thinks of everything that is going on. Instead the main guy in the film becomes George Hardy, a southern small-town dentist who also happened to play Michael in Troll 2.
George is quite a enthusiastic guy and enjoys being in the center of attention. It doesn’t take long before we clearly understand why he wanted to be an actor and have all eyes on him. He is like a child enjoying every single second when he is around fans who recognize him and appreciate him. He does show some jealousy when we see them at a horror convention where they did not get much attention though, but he also says that he was getting tired by that point. George Hardy does represent someone who is proud of being a part of a bad movie and someone who did not let his participation in the film have any negative influence on his life.
On the way other side we have Margo Prey, who played Diana. She has a sad story to tell and does not have a very comfortable life these days. You do get the feeling that she wanted more out of her life and that she still was thinking that she had a chance to make it as an actress, even though she hasn’t been in anything before or after Troll 2. Her scenes aren’t very long, but they are very sad although I doubt it’s only because of her career that she has ended in this state.
The third person that got a lot of screen time and made some impression here is the director Claudio Fragasso. Fragasso is known as the regular collaborator for Bruno Mattei and together they have made other films that are more fun in a “so bad it’s good” way. If you want a good example, then check out Hell of the Living Dead. Perhaps his most popular film is Monster Dog, a werewolf film starring Alice Cooper, another film worth checking out if you like these sort of b-movies.
Fragasso is first interviewed in Italy and he talks positive about his experience on Troll 2. He is then invited over to a screening of the film and you can see how baffled and happy he is when he sees the crowd that comes to the theatre. He is just as childlike as George Hardy when he thinks that everyone is loving his old film and he can’t believe what he is seeing. Fragasso has lived a long life in cinema and never gotten praise for his films, so it’s easy to understand how proud he feels when he sees this happening for him.
However, when he takes part of the audience and sees that they are not laughing at the comedy scenes, but at the entire movie his mood changes. He is still happy at first that people enjoyed his film, but doesn’t fully grasp that they think the movie is terrible and are laughing at his craft. Nearing the end of the documentary, he is tired of hearing the film being called worst movie ever and starts to badmouth both fans and cast of the film.
I’m sure that most American viewers will find Fragasso to be a delusional douchebag, but there is a big cultural difference here. Italians are a very proud people and regardless of his talents, Fragasso is obviously proud of his craft and his movies. For him, that’s his life and when people laugh at his movies, he feels like they are laughing at him personally.
The same cultural clash is also partly the reason why Troll 2 did not succeed. Fragasso’s english skills aren’t the best today and was way worse back when they made the film. There is also a different way of working on films in Italy and America and this did not mix very well here. If you look at other productions with a large Italian crew and American cast from the 80’s, then you’ll notice that this is not something that only happened on Troll 2. From my knowledge, Italian directors don’t work that closely with the actors and when you deal with inexperience actors you might end up getting utterly terrible performances.
The rest of the cast members does not have sunshine stories to tell in the few minutes they get to share their stories in front of the camera. Connie Young, who played young Holly in the film, is still an active actress, but leaves the Troll 2 film out of her resume. Robert Ormsby played the Grandpa, and he thinks that his life has pretty much been wasted on nothing. He says this without any sadness in his voice and probably just feels like he didn’t have more to offer the world anyhow, so even if he doesn’t portray any sadness in his interview it is still sad to see the old guy who probably doesn’t have many people around him these days.
Don Packard was the store owner in the film, and he is quite a character. He has no problems telling the camera how he has spent his life doing a lot of bad stuff to others and does not have very high regards for himself, even though he seems to be a better person today. Deborah Reed is actually not in the documentary and her interview is put on the DVD as an extra feature. I’m not sure why and she is sort of weird and could have gotten some minutes on the main feature instead.
Stephenson did cover as much of the film possible, except the actual film. He was lucky in having a vehicle in Hardy to drive the film and also the different stories of the actors. It’s well put together and it is an excellent documentary for not only Troll 2 fans, but fans of cult movies in general. It has a lot to offer, so check out Best Worst Movie. It is definitely worth your time.