Starring: George Hardy, Michael Stephenson, Margo Prey, Connie Young
“You compare our movie to a Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart movie and it fits in. Because our movie was all about people and the experiences those people are experiencing. Just as Casablanca and those movies are about people and the experiences they are experiencing.” (Margo Prey, Best Worst Movie)
Let’s not beat about the bush here – I review an awful lot of shite on this site. That’s what makes it fun. The worse a movie is, the more I generally enjoy watching it. As a film that many regard as the worst ever made, then, Troll 2 is a film that holds a special place in my heart.
Most of us don’t take the time, however, to consider the people who starred in these films, or those who directed or wrote them. How do these people feel when they read the countless reviews ripping their hard work to shreds? How does it affect your confidence when, 20 years down the line, people are still calling your film a bucket of dogshit or saying you shouldn’t even be cast in a primary school play? These are the questions that Best Worst Movie attempts to answer.
Surprisingly, despite its notorious accolade as one of the worst films ever, the majority of the Troll 2 cast are fine with being associated with it. Indeed, Michael Stephenson, who played the lead role of the young kid in the film, is the now-adult filmmaker who actually made this documentary. Together with George Hardy, the man who played the father in the movie and now works as a dentist in Alabama, they set about trying to find out more about this supposed cult following their crappy little movie is now meant to have. George in particular is surprised to see that it’s been enjoying sell-out midnight screenings at various cinemas around the US and so he starts a tour of America, attending screenings and enjoying the fame he never had the first time around.
While this tour is the main focus of the documentary, it’s interspersed with other little tidbits here and there. These range from sections on the more dedicated Troll 2 fan clubs around the world (including one group who hold their own national Trollympic Games) to a sobering wake-up call in which George, taking his newfound fame a little too far, travels to a signing at a memorabilia fair in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama) and is promptly ignored by everyone.
By far the most interesting asides however are the interviews with the various other cast members scattered throughout the film. These answer that all-important question – “what happens to you after you make such a bad movie” – and the resulting stories have varying levels of success. Connie Young, who played the sister in Troll 2, seems to be enjoying her life and continues to act, and while Troll 2 was undoubtedly a blotch on her CV, she’s happy to talk about it jokingly and not let it get to her, so that’s a success in my books. Likewise, Don Packard, the odd troll-looking man who plays the shopkeeper in the evil town of Nilbog, reveals that he actually walked straight onto the set from a psychiatric institution and continued to suffer from mental problems for years later, but then he turned up at one of the recent Troll 2 screenings and the love he got from fans of the film made him feel good about himself for the first time in his life.
Not all the stories are happy ones, though, and ultimately it’s the sadder ones that will stick with you. The elderly chap who played Grandpa Seth now sits in his house explaining how he did some plays and played old men in other films but never got married and never had kids, before eventually conceding “I’ve more or less wasted my life”. Meanwhile, the woman who played the mother has completely lost the plot, living in seclusion with her elderly mother and still suffering delusions that she’s still waiting on that next inevitable audition. To her, Troll 2 is genuinely up there with a Katherine Hepburn film or Casablanca, with no hint of irony, and if there was still any question in the viewer’s mind that she’s one can short of a six-pack a return to her house later in the film leads to indisputable proof and arguably the most hilarious and yet tragic scene in the film.
To say any more about Best Worst Movie would spoil all the twists and turns it takes, and it makes it even easier to appreciate Troll 2 when you realise how its cast and crew feel about it nowadays. If you haven’t seen Troll 2 you’ll still get a lot out of this because it’s interspersed with enough footage from the film to give you the general gist, but the ideal situation is definitely watching Troll 2 and Best Worst Movie as a double-bill so you can enjoy the worst film ever made and then get the almost-as-silly inside story.
If you enjoyed this review and would like to read more, here’s a complete list of reviews on That Was A Bit Mental.