I’m currently at the IFI in Dublin. I’ve paid over 60 euros for their annual horrorthon. I’m skipping out on Silent Hill Revelation just to get this review up. That’s how much I love you guys and gals *insert smiley face here*.
Anyway, on to the review.
After watching and reviewing Troll 2, I was left with a sense of curiosity on how it must have been to be apart of a cult classic that currently holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 19 years after the film wrapped, Michael Stephenson – who played Joshua Waits – hired a crew and returned to a flick that was so embarrassing for the ”talent” they simply ignored it like a dirty family secret (Connie McFarland refuses put Troll 2 on her acting resume to this day). The former child actor tracks the cast down while revealing the obsession behind the trashy 90’s film.
Stephenson himself recalls the first time he viewed Troll 2. It was a year after its release on VHS when his parents bought him a copy for Christmas. The ecstatic child played the film and was left with a broken heart and a dead acting career. Surprising enough, Stephenson doesn’t focus that much attention on himself in the documentary. The camera mostly follows George Hardy, the father of the Wait’s family. Since Troll 2, Hardy continued on in dentistry. Everyone loves Hardy, even his ex-wife thinks his a top-notch guy. When the dentist discovers the crazed fan base surrounding the one and only film he starred in, he embraces it by attending screenings, hanging out with fanatics and even helps Stephenson to recruit some of the former cast members to join in on the festivities. You can’t help but love the enthusiasm of this guy; it makes me want watch Troll 2 all over again just to cheer him on. It gets to a certain point where Hardy is contemplating about jumping back into the acting game as he felt he never got a real chance to chase after it.
Not all the former cast members lives are full of cheers and smiles. When Stephenson and Hardy pay a visit to Margo Prey’s (mother from the flick) house, the outside displays an unwelcoming sign in-paled into the ground, stating a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo junk – basically the two actors are afraid they’ll get a gun pointed at their heads just for knocking. We learn that Prey is looking after her un-well mother and that she, herself, is not in the best place in her life. She turns down the offer to appear at any of the showings. From tragic to bizarre, Don Packard (the store owner who offered spoilt milk and referred to coffee as ”the devils drink”), was a mental patient who’d get days off to play his part. He recalls smoking a lot of weed to stay somewhat sane and hating Stephenson. He said he doesn’t recall much from the shoot and had no real recollection of what was even going on story-wise. Don’t feel bad, Packard, most of the cast felt the same way.
One cast member who isn’t seen or mentioned is Deborah Reed (Creedence). Apparently they did film her; she even gets some dental work done from Hardy, but her scenes were cut. I don’t why that happened, but the lack of one of the main players missing, leaves a gaping hole. It’s like making a sequel to a popular flick and not bringing back one of the main talents.
The footage I found most trilling was watching the Italian director of Troll 2, Claudio Fragasso, who travels to the States with his wife and script writer, Rosella Drudi (she explains hating her vegetarian friends, had an influence on the script) to witness the fan base at first hand. While Fragasso comes off as a bit of a snobby dick, he eventually lightens up a bit as sees his film evoking emotion from the crowd. It seemed like Fragasso was expecting an intellectual audience, but instead, he was met with screaming fans who laughed at scenes that Fragasso said they shouldn’t have been laughing at. A gem of a moment takes place at a Q & A when Jason Steadman (Drew) describes one day during filming where he was meant to become the plant-man, but Darren Ewing was tossed in to make-up instead. While Steadman rambles on about how nothing made sense to the cast, the Italian director who is pacing all over the place, interrupts the story and basically says Ewing was chosen instead because Steadman was a shit actor. The American cast recalls Fragasso telling them during the shoot how Americans act; weird, right? The ignorance of the man is quite comical, even when he refers to actors as ”dogs”. At the end of the day, Fragasso seems like passionate filmmaker and was expecting elevated expectations when re-visiting Troll 2.
The films main focus shifts back to George Hardy who is growing tiresome with advertising, repeating the same quote to people over and over. At a horror convention, Hardy gets weirded out by the hardcore fan base and insists on leaving. The man who once embrace his new fame, just wants to return to his normal life, but said he would come back for a sequel if it was offered to him; classy man!
Best Worst Movie reveals the passion these fans share for one movie, from spreading the word about it and making new friends. We also see the other side of the coin like wrecked careers and the frustration that comes with it. I highly recommend this documentary, even if you haven’t seen Troll 2.