What's the shittiest movie ever made? My vote goes to Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion but in recent years the top spot on the stinker list (with a zero per cent rating on rottentomatoes.com) belongs to 1990's Troll 2, an ultra-B-Grade flick about vegetarian goblins that terrorize a happy family on vacation. Working with a "flexible" script and a cast of third-rate community theatre actors, mental patients and little people in burlap sacks, Italian director Claudio Fragasso, with broken English and an old-school tough-love attitude, crafted a film so mind-bogglingly random and utterly terrible that somehow it's totally genius.
At least that's the premise of Best Worst Movie, which plays at the Village 8 theatres at 9:15 p.m. Friday as part of the Whistler Film Festival. First time director Michael Paul Stephenson actually starred in Troll 2 at age ten, and after years of embarrassment (child-starring in history's crappiest movie doesn't really get you laid in high school) he eventually discovered a silver lining.
"I started getting these MySpace messages," Stephenson says, "and pictures of kids throwing Troll 2 parties in their basements and I became fascinated with how a movie we had all hoped would just go away had somehow found it's own audience with no marketing or hype or anything, and people were absolutely in love with it."
Four years later, Best Worst Movie is a compelling glimpse into a world of film fanaticism where audience participation reigns supreme and, somehow, the holy grail is a flick wherein a kid's dead grandfather stops time so the kid can piss on his family's dinner table, thus saving them from eating chlorophyll-laced goblin-food and growing leaves and branches out of their limbs.
"It's been amazing," says Stephenson, who filmed fellow cast member and fan favourite George Hardy as he attended dozens of late-night sold-out screenings, conventions and Troll 2 circle jerks all over the western hemisphere.
"One of the things we set out to do was celebrate the communal nature of watching a film together," Stephenson says. "It seems like these days, with social networking and technology, it's easy to be disconnected from actual people. But in these fantastic old mom-and-pop theatres the rooms were full of nothing but positivity and people enjoying themselves. It was through the roof."
George Hardy, now a dentist in small-town Alabama, exudes charm and personality reminiscent of a modern day Bruce Campbell but he gave up on acting after Troll 2 and part of the joy of Best Worst Movie lies in watching him attain and embrace his status as a "cult luminary" before eventually realizing the difference between fame and infamy. Virtually ignored at a horror festival in Texas, George's discomfort is obvious. "Only about five per cent of these people floss," he tsk tsks.