Halloween Scene: Best Worst Movie (2009)

Wow, you guys. I’ve been hearing about Best Worst Movie for a while now. It’s a documentary that catches up with the cast and crew behind Troll 2, which I have seen and, while it is bad and nonsensical, is not the worst movie I have ever seen. Anyway, I’ve heard things here and there about this doc, about how it catches up with everyone and shows them the huge fan following this movie has accrued over the years. With that little bit of knowledge, I kind of assumed it would be a kind of uplifting thing, along the lines of “Hey, we made this thing that seems bad but people have really embraced.” And that’s part of it, but there’s even more. Very honestly, this movie is an emotional roller coaster in the same vein as the amazing King Of Kong.

So, the description I had in mind is pretty correct for maybe half of the movie. Then it gets into the realness of the situation. As a fan of bad movies, I understand that mentality. We like laughing earnestly made things that turned out pretty crappy. It’s the same thing as my current favorite podcast How Did This Get Made? But, there’s a dark side to that, of course. Most directors, actors and crew members don’t go into a movie saying “Let’s make something laughably silly.” They go in wanting to make something good or to create something that will be a stepping stone to something bigger and better. Being in a movie like Troll 2 might get you a line at a Horror Hound convention in Cincinnati, but it’s the kiss of death if you’re looking to move on to something bigger and better (unless of course you’re George Clooney or Jennifer Aniston).

That other side of the coin gets its own spotlight in the doc and it honestly made my stomach hurt. And I’m not even referring to the people who still hang on to the possibility of acting (the mom) or the ones looking back at their careers thinking they could have done more (Grandpa Seth), though their scenes made me sad for another reason I’ll get to in a minute. The director of Troll 2, Claudio Fragasso has zero sense of humor when it comes to his work. This man talks very deeply about the sharing of human emotion and, at the end of the movie, very awkwardly interrupts a screening where the actors are joking around about not being able to understand him and not understanding the script. This man was clearly passionate about the project and (maybe) liked the finished project. He does not have a sense of humor about any of this. I feel bad for him.

Back to the mom and Grandpa Seth, oh man, I felt so bad for them too. Grandpa Seth sits on his easy chair surrounded by Hoarders-level stacks of books or magazines or something and explains that he would have liked to act more, but didn’t want to move to LA. He then goes on about how he wished his career had been different, but it’s all topped by the very end of the movie where they’re catching everyone up on these folks and all it says is that he’s retired and likes Family Guy. What? Really?! That’s a life? Ugh. Meanwhile the mom from the movie has one scene where she talks about getting back into acting, presumably after her elderly mother passes away (it’s not directly said, but that’s how I took it) and saying that she just wants to run away to a completely different places with different neighbors who don’t make the kind of high pitches sounds that would make Lloyd and Harry would get annoyed at. These two got to me because they either are still holding on to or held on too long to the dream of being an actor. These are the kinds of things that get to me, being a wannabe writer of fiction. How long do you hold on to lofty dreams? When is it time to just say “Nope, not gonna happen, I don’t have it in me” or “The cards are not being dealt in my favor”? Oh man, too close to home as I’m nearing my 29th birthday.

But, thankfully, there are less sad parts and people in this movie. The young boy from the movie is the one spearheading the documentary. He embraces the whole thing in the same way fans of bad movies do, but it’s because he has already processed the feelings of embarrassment and career-dread unlike some of the others. He makes a great touchstone, but the real star of the film is the dad, George Hardy. George is a dentist and one of the nicest guys around. He’s cool with the film’s legacy, for the most part. But, even he has a a few dark moments in the film, both of which revolve around conventions. The first has almost no people coming to a screening of Troll 2 and the second is a big horror show that leaves him with the impression that the attendees are weird, some of his fellow attendees are desperate losers and director Neil Marshall is kind of a jerk. Now, all of those things may be true (I have no idea, I’ve never been to a horror convention), but seeing the main “I’m okay with my life” person in the movie go down that path is a bummer. That’s life though, we all have our bad moments. I got the impression that George was very excited to embrace this underground fandom at first, but got bored with it very quickly. He saw the movie 20 times and doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would like movies ironically and he even says he doesn’t like horror flicks, so what’s the appeal for him? I’m guessing that “I want to be famous” spark that still lies inside him from his days of wanting to be an actor.

What makes this movie so interesting, aside from the various perspectives that one film can create in its audience and crew, is how it showcases so many different aspects of humanity and the desire for fame. Some people in Troll 2 went on to make their own movies while others gave up and went into other fields. There really is a lot to unpack in this film, far more than the “It’s so bad it’s good” fans might want, actually. This isn’t an obsessed fan’s love letter to the film, more like a document of how one film has changed the lives of many. I liked it a lot, but I’m not sure if I’ll watch it again. Sometimes things just get too real.

Mini Monsters: Troll 1 and 2

2009-04-10
3:19:35 am

Okay, I’m in search of a movie from my childhood. I thought either of the Troll flicks might jog my memory. Unfortunately, neither the original nor the non-sequel struck a chord in my memory, but I sure had a good time watching both movies.

Even though the first Troll (1986) flick has a mini monster with a ball on the freakingposter, it’s not the movie I remember. It is however a really strange flick with a father and son duo by the names of Harry Potter. Harry Jr’s sister gets taken over by a Troll (or something) when they move into their new apartment building. Soon enough the troll is causing all kinds of trouble, even converting the other tenants in weird creatures. Luckily there’s a weird old lady with a pet mushroom plant who helps Harry Jr. save the day. I’ll be honest, I watched Troll over a week ago and my already shoddy memory has forgotten a lot of the details. Sonny Bono, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and June Lockhart all have rolls and entertain in their own way. It really is just a great, weird movie.

Okay, so a swing and a miss on the first flick, maybe the second would be a hit. Nope. Whiff. Yeah baseball metaphors! Anyway, I didn’t really know Troll 2’s crazy history or its title as “Best Worst Movie” when I added it to my Netflix but between adding it and getting the movie, it was mentioned on both Horror Movie a Day and in the Totally Rad Show podcast. So, I was kind of excited to finally watch the movie, which apparently started life as a completely different movie about goblins. BC and HMAD did a pretty right on review though I think I liked the movie a lot more.

Yes, it’s completely ridiculous and poorly acted, but it’s definitely not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Slumber Party Massacre 2 still holds that spot. Anyway, the TRS guys talked about a documentary created by the kid who starred in Troll 2 that I’m interested in checking out.

Instead of doing a straight-up review, I’ll post the notes I made while watching the first three quarters of the movie (I gave up and just watched, probably buzzed, after a while).

Here goes, with commentary when necessary:

-he’s imagining his dead g-pa telling him a story?

-Kid has a Superman poster and fucking Killing Joke Joker HAHAHAHAHAHAHA poster!!!

-“You take them to bed with you and i don’t believe in group sex” (the daughter in the story says this about her boyfriend and his friends)

-acting is BAD

-“Joshua start singing” (I think one of the parents yells this at the kid/hero)

-this kid has crazy dreams – green blood/sweat, tree fingers and sucking chest wound

-holy crap, they’re driving an aerostar (in high school I drove a 1994 Ford Aerostar Mini Van, this one is pretty similar)

-the town is called Nilbog, hahahaha

-who would ever trade houses with strangers? (the whole story revolves around the main family leaving their regular house to live in the house of some strangers in Nilbog who never really leave)

-mom has a menacing/evil quality because she keeps staring RIGHT AT THE CAMERA

-is that a stripe of blue frosting on the corn? (yes, goblins love putting frosting on stuff)

-hahaha he pissed on the food! (to make sure his family wouldn’t eat it)

-dad just challenged Josh to a not eating contest “just remember I’ve got more practice at this than you do.” (which is exactly how your dad handled you when you peed on the food)

-i hear my friend scream in the woods, i’m out the door seeing if he’s okay, not drinking mountain dew (the boyfriend and his friends borrow a mobile home which they park near Nilbog, not a good move in the long run)

-eww, Nilbog “special milk” that’s not refrigerated

-that’s not pudding it’s a cheesecake with green frosting

-nothing like a warm jug of milk on a hot day

The movie goes on from there and never lets up in the weirdness. There’s a scene where the Nilbogians throw a surprise party in the family’s house without them knowing it that is out of control and of course, the end is nuts (you’ll never hear a kid say Grandpa so many times).

Ha, which reminds me. The grandpa’s name is Seth, but the kid seems to have a ridiculously hard time wrapping his mouth around the word and it just comes out garbled every time.

Anyway, you could probably start a whole blog just on this movie. I enjoyed it for the most part and have my eyes peeled for the Troll 1 and 2 DVD at a reasonable price, but, unfortunately, my mini monster quest is not yet over. Somehow I’ll soldier on…

By watching Ghoulies 1 and 2! Coming soon!