While I've never subscribed to the "so bad it's good" theory of movies that are so terrible they become enjoyable, I have seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show numerous times and enjoyed bad movies being mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax.  But how does an awful film become a cult phenomenon -- and how does such a movie affect the people who were directly involved in it?  Best Worst Movie explores the second life of Troll 2 -- a 1990 horror movie that for a time occupied the very bottom spot on the IMDB -- as a cult phenomenon.

Directed by Michael Paul Stephenson (the child star of Troll 2), Best Worst Movie is an celebratory look at what happened with that wretched movie about 19 years after its release.  Much of the cast tried to distance themselves from the movie -- George Hardy became a dentist, while Connie Young left the movie off her resume -- and were surprised to discover that it had developed a cult following.  Midnight showings were held around America (often with The Rocky Horror Picture Show the next night) and the cast members soon found themselves invited to screenings of a movie they didn't understand while making it and might have happily forgotten.  But people seem to love it despite or because of its flaws ("We had a great time watching it" one fan exudes) -- and soon George Hardy is selling Troll 2 merchandise at conventions, showing up at screenings, and promoting the movie in his hometown.
While a few critics discuss the movie (excusing its flaws with the sincerity that went into making the film), most of Best Worst Movie centers on Troll 2's stars and fans.  George Hardy is relentlessly cheerful, smiling and laughing while promoting the movie as "the worst movie ever made."  Director Claudio Fragasso is thin-skinned to any criticisms of his movie, and actress Margo Prey seems unbalanced even before she sincerely compares Troll 2 to Casablanca.  As for the fans, they happily wear "Nilbog" t-shirts, cover themselves with green liquid, and praise the stars as they assemble for numerous viewings of their beloved awful film.
The lesson of Best Worst Movie seems to be that a cult classic has to happen organically.  Troll 2 took on new life in theaters thanks to word-of-mouth from fans, while George Hardy's attempts to promote Troll 2 merchandise at science fiction and horror conventions were disastrous.  Ultimately, Best Worst Movie doesn't attempt to salvage the reputation of Troll 2, but it does make the viewer understand why people still love to watch it.  (DVD extras include several extra scenes.)

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: