Best Worst Movie Review
Written by: thegoldensimatar
Last night I had the pleasure of watching one of the best documentaries about film in a long while. Best Worst Movie is one of the biggest surprises to come along in a long while. Who could imagine that someone could make an interesting and compelling documentary about one of the worst films ever made, let alone this someone be the child star of the film itself? In complete truth, though it’s about one of the worst movies ever made Best Worst Movie is one of the best documentaries about a single film ever made.
Back in 1989 Italian genre veteran Claudio Fragasso was out in Utah shooting his latest movie that would go down in infamy as Troll 2. The film would barely sell when it hit video and the American cast attempted to bury all knowledge. Twenty years later, that film that started as an embarrassment is now a worldwide phenomenon. This phenomenon and how it has affected the people that were involved with Troll 2 is what the documentary covers.
Directed by the child star of Troll 2 Michael Paul Stephenson Best Worst Movie follows dentist-turned actor-turned dentist George Hardy (Michael Waits in Troll 2) as he embraces his cult icon status and tries to figure out what is going on in the minds of the fans of such movies. Many of the films funniest scenes focus around Hardy and interviews with his close friends and family. The entire lead cast in the film including as Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, Connie Young, Margo Prey, and Jason Wright voice their opinions about not only how they felt working on the film, but also the impact it has had post-release on their lives.
The cast is almost universal in their low opinion of the film and how they slowly became aware of the cult following in the recent years. Many of their memories of working on the movie with a mostly Italian crew are incredibly humorous. A little bonus that I welcomed was interviews with several of the actors who played the Goblins in the film. Some of their recollections of barely being able to understand what the Italians wanted culminates with a hilarious reunion with director Claudio Fragasso.
Not only is the cast involved in lengthy interviews, but also many mega-fans are brought in for interviews. They’re the other side of the coin showing when the cast was trying to run away from Troll 2 and forget all about it, these people were finding the VHS collecting dust and a cult following grew around it. Like the cast, the fans are honest about their opinion about the movie. The fans of course follow it because it is an enjoyably bad film. The fan base for this film is pure kinetic energy, Troll 2 parties, sold out screenings, costume contests, tattoos…the works.
On the completely other coin we have the reactions of the Italian crew. The fans’ reasoning for loving the film however doesn’t sit too well with Claudio Fragasso. While Fragasso is surprised and overjoyed by seeing how many fans have turned out for this film he did nearly twenty years ago, it’s for reasons he didn’t intend. While initially he seems borderline delusional with his steadfast belief that Troll 2 is an ‘important’ film, Stephenson shows you a man who is truly passionate about filmmaking and cinema.
This goes for the other Italians, writer Rossella Drudi and editor Vanio Amici who also hold a firm belief in the film’s strength. While Stephenson could have spent a lot of time poking fun at the Italians and trying to degrade them for defending a film like Troll 2, he refrains from that and keeps them in the light of filmmakers who do what they want to do.
Balancing of humor and seriousness with scenes of fans cheering Hardy on as he gives the infamous ‘Piss on Hospitality’ line with scenes of hard times and complex situations befalling some of cast, BWM doesn’t let itself fall too much in either direction. There are truly funny scenes such as Hardy and Stephenson and Prey reenacting the ‘Row Row Your Boat’ scene and only a few minutes before hearing of Don Packard’s psychiatric issues.
This balance strengthens BWM considerably as it could have so easily fallen into the dangerous waters of being a documentary made for laughter. BWM would have never been as good if it had been a constant joke fest of people proclaiming how wonderfully and touchingly awful Troll 2 is and never discussing the stuff people tend to ignore.
It can’t be stressed enough that BWM is a completely honest film. The cast, the fans and filmmakers are pure and honest about how they feel. There isn’t the self-conscious ‘I must pat myself and everyone else on the back’ interviews might get with only a few snippets of complete truthfulness. A good part of this has to do with the fact that the director of BWM is Michael Paul Stephenson.
An outsider to the Troll 2 phenomenon might have angled more towards the humor and turned away from the sadder parts of the Troll 2 tale even though they flesh out much of the story. Only an insider and to put it better, one of the participants of Troll 2 could really give a full picture of the story. There is a brutal sense of honesty in displaying the sadder sections and there is also an intense respect of the people involved and not once is anyone portrayed in a negative light.
While the film is probably best enjoyed in a packed theater full of Troll 2 fans, anyone who considers themselves a fan of cinema should see this film. Best Worst Movie offers a compelling look into the movie business like nothing else before it. From the strength of the interviews in the film, I can’t wait to see the hours of unused interviews appear on DVD. To sum everything up, you must see Best Worst Movie. If it comes to your area, it’s well worth a trip to go and see. It’s a documentary, like the movie that spawned it, must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
This time, I was saddened that there’s nothing at the end of the credits. This is thegoldensimatar, signing off.