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Short Takes: Best Worst Movie

(Michael Paul Stephenson, U.S., 2009)

There are certainly better bad movies than Troll 2—its in-name-only predecessor, Troll, for one—but even so, Michael Paul Stephenson, who starred in it at age 10, pleads the film’s case 20 years after its (very limited) release.

Italian maestro Claudio Fragasso’s schlock “masterpiece,” which apparently once had the distinction of being the lowest-ranked film on IMDb’s Bottom 100 list (today it sits at a still-impressive #59 with 2.0 out of 10 stars) has found a marginal cult following, resulting in a string of recent sold-out midnight screenings. Many cast members, however, are openly embarrassed by their involvement. The female-teen lead, Connie McFarland, whose career hasn’t exactly gone places, refuses to list Troll 2 on her résumé. And in some of Best Worst Movie’s funniest moments, a humiliated yet good-humored George Hardy, who played Stephenson and McFarland’s father (by all accounts, terribly), finds himself at the most unpopular table at a genre convention. A respected dentist in small-town Alabama, Hardy is much more engaging as himself than as the dad who ill-advisedly takes his family to the town of Nilbog. (Yes, Troll 2 virgins, that’s goblin backwards! And, yes, I do mean goblins—there are no trolls whatsoever in the movie!)

Stephenson never really explains just what’s so horribly good about Troll 2. But no matter, his doc offers fittingly low-tech amusement throughout—which is a hell of a lot more than can be said about the tediously incomprehensible movie it champions.