Best Worst Movie: Starring George Hardy, Claudio Fragasso
Troll 2: Directed by Claudio Fragasso
Troll 2: Starring George Hardy, Michael Stephenson
To capture the experience of Troll 2 in words is a difficult task. For to fully grasp how something so awful can exist, yet also be endearing, can’t really be understood unless it is watched. Let’s just say that this movie finds the perfect balance of horrible acting, terrible production value, cheesy music, painfully awkward lines, and a nonsensical script. A C-average middle school student would be embarrassed by this story. Here is my foolish attempt at summarizing the plot: a young boy and his dead grandfather try to save their vacationing family from the creepy townspeople who are really goblins (the monsters aren’t even trolls!) that try to feed newcomers green goo which turns the people into plants so the goblins and their goblin-witch leader can eat the humans, because they are all vegetarians. Hard to follow, right? However, that doesn’t matter because when added all together, there is something incredibly watchable about Troll 2.
It’s amazing how Best Worst Movie involves all of the insiders from the making of the film, and their reaction to their 1990 “classic” runs the gamut. A common theme is embarrassment. From being kept in the dark during filming by Troll 2’s all-Italian crew to its ominous VHS release and subsequent airings on HBO, most of the cast had the feeling that they were part of something especially bad. For an actor, however, that “blissfully bad” experience doesn’t exist. Troll 2 is a black cloud that hangs over their careers. Most leave it off their resumes and feel nothing but shame when the movie gets mentioned, some are content with their embarrassment and have moved on with their lives, while others are stuck in sad and lonely places. It took the better part of 20 years to forget, but its arrival of as a cult classic has suddenly brought it to their forefront and made them something a star.
George Hardy is the most memorable of Troll 2’s cast members in Best Worst Movie. He is a practicing and well-loved dentist in his small Alabama hometown, and he was a practicing dentist in Utah when he auditioned for Troll 2 on a whim. When people ask him about his “movie star” days, he just shines his giant pearly whites and laughs it off in good humor. Other than that, George gives little thought to Troll 2. That is until Michael, the documentarian and his Troll 2 co-star, informs him about the film’s huge cult following. George dives head first into newfound stardom. It's very fun to hear the fans express their love toward such a truly awful movie as George is guest of honor at sold out midnight showings across the country. George becomes Troll 2’s biggest fan himself, wonders what a life of stardom would have been like, and realizes he is happy with his quiet Alabama life. Who knew that the father in Troll 2 was not just a terrible actor, but also such an interesting character in the real world?
Various other cast members and filmmakers join as George and Michael enjoy the ride of Troll 2’s newfound fame. Some of most powerful moments come from those who have never viewed their movie as a failure. Sadness runs deep when we learn that the Troll 2 mother, and George’s on-screen wife, has turned into a delusional recluse afraid to leave her house. She views her movie as a beautiful film on par with Casablanca. More entertaining awkwardness comes from the director, Claudio Fragasso, who travels from Italy to experience Troll 2’s cult fame in person. He has disdain for critics, pride in his film’s message, and confusion over the audience’s constant laughter. His ego embraces the adulation but feels attacked when he realizes that the adulation comes from the love for his ultimate failure. This contradiction reaches a high point during the entertaining arguments Claudio has with his actors and fans during some Troll 2 Q&A sessions.
I highly encourage people to force themselves through their worst 90 minutes of movie watching, because when coupled with a viewing of Best Worst Movie, the two create a very entertaining experience. We all love to hate things, and quite a lot can be gained from seeing how individuals have embraced their greatest failures. Who knows - if that failure is as monumental as Troll 2, you might be in store for a hell of a ride.
Best Worst Movie – Mark it 6.Troll 2 – Mark it 1, naturally.