A bizarre low-budget horror movie seeped onto video cassettes and cable television in 1990. The reaction towards Troll 2 was universally unanimous – it was awful.
But it was not just bad, it was terrible. Awful. Dreadful. Troll 2 was absolutely, undoubtedly a horrible movie. Perhaps even being the worst movie ever created.
And some fans loved it! Despite its poor quality, lousy acting, nonsensical story and laughable special effects through the years Troll 2 managed to garner a devoted cult following that has made this deplorable movie into something revered. This is not only the story of Troll 2 star/dentist George Hardy, but how this piece of trash cinema has miraculously turned embarrassment into triumphant.
Those who are anticipating a detailed account of the making of Troll 2 will be in for surprise. Sure, there’s stories about the production, surreal anecdotes from the actors about their experiences and how the film came into being, but it’s more about the unexpected resurgence the film has gotten twenty years after it was wrapped and the reaction from the filmmakers and actors.
Naturally there are some laughs to be had. It’s hard not to giggle at fans gathering together for screenings to be entertained by the movie – in ways the director never intended.
But it’s also quite a touching story. Troll 2 lead actor Hardy embraces the notoriety, but learns of the limits to where this strange fandom ends and dismissive reactions begin. The director Claudio Fragasso is completely confused by the reaction of fans filling theaters to laugh at his movie and is torn by the accolades he’s getting for all the wrong reasons.
Then there’s several of the actors who are not in the best states of mental health and I felt the joke of fans saying they ‘love Troll 2’ is probably not a good thing for them and could get massively misinterpreted for the wrong reasons.
There’s a moment when Hardy is being cheered by Troll 2 fans begging him to recite one of his terrible lines from the movie. Watching him among this crowd smiling made me feel good for him and that he’s in on the joke. It’s impossible not to like the guy.
Yet when he attends a horror convention or trying to promote a charity screening in his hometown to the townsfolk the cool reaction he gets is pretty disheartening. He uncomfortably tries to explain how that same piece of dialogue is so funny and famous to his cult followers and it just comes off as so painfully awkward. He discovers fame of being in a ‘cult film’ has a very narrow fanbase. That’s why it’s called a ‘cult film’!
There’s a certain exclusive circle of fans who enjoy Troll 2 for being a bad film. Venturing outside that circle is just a desert of disinterest and it’s tough watching Hardy learn that.
The same with Troll 2 director Fragasso. As he arrives to a theater screening of his movie he’s amazed by the long line of fans streaming down the block. “These people are crazy”, he says. But it’s somewhat a revelation to him to learn they’re not laughing with his film, but at it. No one wants their work to be laughed at. And despite him trying to defend the movie he continues to show up to screenings. He likes the attention his movie has gotten, but not the reasons for it.
Grown up Troll 2 actor Michael Stephenson directs this doc and creates a much deeper and layered story than just goofing on a bad movie he was in. It’s a surprisingly affectionate look at the fandom a bad movie can attain, along with the honest accounts of what those who made it feel about that reception.
It’s definitely worth watching, especially for those who have ever been entertained by a bad movie – this will offer an interesting perspective on that phenomena.
Plus, it might motivate those who have never witnessed it sitting down and watching Troll 2 and seeing if it will have the same affect on you as it has done to so many others.