Best Worst Movie Dir. Michael Stephenson

[Abramorama; 2009]

Styles: documentary
Others: Troll 2, The Room, The Wicker Man

There are two audiences to consider when judging the success of Best Worst Movie: those who have seen Troll 2 and those who haven’t. Viral appreciation of the baffling set pieces and hammy line readings (“you can’t piss on hospitality!”) from the film — a straight-to-cable thriller unrelated to the original — have put the late-80s obscurity into the dot-com cult canon beside more recent failures like The Room and The Wicker Man. Now Michael Stephenson, the film’s child lead, has made a documentary about the phenomenon that turned his embarrassment into a steady source of income. But does it work independently or merely as a generous bonus feature?

Stephenson has certainly found enough material to merit a full-length film: Christopher Guest would kill for a lead like George Hardy, the gregarious small-town dentist whose sole screen role has unwittingly blasted him into the world of cult appreciation. But Best Worst Movie is full off odd choices that could alienate newcomers and frustrate fans. It oddly eschews a logical chronology, introducing Troll 2’s cult (and cast who can’t believe one exists) before detailing the origins of the movie itself. Director Claudio Fragasso, the engine of Troll 2’s aggressive ineptitude, is kept a secret to enthusiast and neophyte alike as viewers watch montage after montage of giddy fans interacting with Hardy. Those very same cultists might have their own qualms — the most protracted “oh my god!” in cinematic history, rightfully a YouTube classic, is neither heard nor discussed (possibly because the man who screamed it is still a working actor).

Despite this clumsiness, it’s hard to imagine anyone with an interest in cult stardom not enjoying themselves, with Hardy explaining his ironic fanbase to his patients (his game appreciation of the attention stands in fascinating contrast to Fragasso’s increasing irritation at his mockery). Stephenson may not make Best Worst Movie flow, but it’s not like a Troll 2 fan needs more than accidental wackiness to keep them entertained.

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