So bad they’re good movies have become a big deal in recent decades. And that’s due to the advent of the internet and its capacity to spread the bad word.
You can nod to The Room (2003), Samurai Cop (1991), and Birdemic (2010).
But then there’s the case of Trolls 2 (1990), which began popping up online around 2005 with people celebrating its badness. And in 2009, one of its stars released a surprisingly profound documentary about its belated success.
Best Worst Movie and the Hidden Profundity of Troll 2’s Production
Yeah, we’ve covered a few so bad it’s good films on Professional Moron.
But we’ll never review The Room or Troll 2, as they’ve kind of been done to the death elsewhere online. It’s kind of clichéd to cover them and all that now, so late in the day.
Although we did review The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero (2013) about The Room’s bizarre production.
But we’re just more interested in the stories behind the films and the people involved.
With films like Troll 2, the cast and production crew don’t set out to make a terrible movie. They tried their damned best, but for various reasons it went awfully wrong.
And whilst it’s easy to sneer, there are human stories behind everyone on set.
Take The Room. The book’s full title is The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made.
It’s actually a story of a unique, unlikely friendship (along with a godawful, bizarre film).
And there’s the likes of Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014). Another notorious production nightmare and strange, strange film.
But it’s also the story of a potential superstar director being wasted.
Such interest in these awful films has grown to an enormous extent. The Room, Troll 2, and Samurai Cop are phenomenons celebrated the world over.
Those involved in them, previously embarrassed, have now embraced the positivity towards their badness.
In one way or another, they’ve become iconic—part of movie history. That’s a special place to be in.
And it’s thanks to scenes like this that Troll 2 launched itself towards cult classic status.
Yeah, not exactly Robert Shaw as Quint meeting his iconic demise in Jaws, eh? Kudos for effort, though.
That clip found its way onto YouTube in the early days of the platform, back in September 2006. However, its cult status was already rising dramatically—16 years after its release straight to VHS.
Best Worst Movie begins in 2009, shortly after the film’s stars have had to adjust to Troll 2’s sudden resurgence.
So much so it’s had releases onto DVD and now regularly shows at independent cinemas around the world (particularly in the US).
Discovering the Secret Lives of the Troll 2 Cast
Best Worst Movie was directed by Michael Stephenson. His role in Troll 2 was as one of the leads—a young lad called Joshua Waits.
His father was played by George Hardy, at the time of filming in 1989 he was practicing to be a dentist. But his love for performing led him to have a go at acting.
Best Worst Movie largely revolves around Hardy, whose natural charisma and easy charms make him a lovable character.
Now a full-time dentist, Hardy is at once baffled, but delighted, by all the interest the film is bringing to him.
Gradually, we’re introduced to the rest of the cast.
It’s almost like we’re cautiously, and with great sympathy, led to each one to hear their particular tale of woe. And we don’t mean that mockingly. It really gets quite poignant.
There’s Connie Young, who played Holly Waits. She was around 15 at the time of the shoot and had little acting experience. The result was a rather poor performance, for which she’s still criticised heavily on the likes of IMDb.
However, that performance pretty much ruined her acting career immediately and she wasn’t able to go anywhere further.
But she laughs this off with good humour in the documentary in self-effacing fashion.
Then we meet the shy, retiring Don Packard. He played Sandy Mahar, a crazed general store owner.
Sadly, Packard died on May 14th, 2021, at the age of 94.
In Best Worst Movie, he seems to hint at tremendous mental health struggles he was dealing with at the time of the Troll 2’s shoot.
And he cuts quite a lonely, humble figure in the 2009 documentary.
However, for one shining moment he attends a Troll 2 screening with most of the rest of the cast. And he’s met with rapturous applause from fans, with Packard raising his arms up in acknowledgement.
After, he admits it was one of the best moments of his life and he was free from anxiety.
We think that perfectly sums up the Best Worst Movie experience.
It becomes much more than a “Oh, this is why they all ended up in this crap!” kind of half-mocking experience. Instead, it’s an exploration of their humanity and what drove them to star in this ultra-low budget horror flick that didn’t even make it out in cinemas.
For most of them, it was just about having a go at acting. Why the heck not?
Which leads us to the awesome Deborah Reed. She’s not in Best Worst Movie, we believe as her husband was suffering from illness at the time.
It’s a real shame not to get her insights. As, frankly, we think Reed is fantastically OTT with her performance in Troll 2.
She played the druid witch Creedence Leonore Gielgud.
It’s like she’d twigged the film was completely absurd, so hammed it up to the maximum. And we think it works a treat.
Despite looking 25 in the above scene, she was about 40. And, well… definitely the best looking witch we’ve ever seen.
Her IMDb page is quite extensive, revealing a person who just loves to perform, and a creative individual who now produces children’s books.
And then we have Robert Orsmby (who played Grandpa Seth). He’s also on hand to lay on the remarkable pathos:
“More or less, I’ve frittered my life away… but what else is there to do with a life but fritter it away?”
Really, we weren’t expecting this lesson in seizing upon your creativity that Best Worst Movie piles on.
Such a sincere documentary we were not expecting.
Which is at its most heartbreaking when director Michael Stephenson and Hardy catch up with their on-screen Troll 2 mother and wife (respectively). Margo Prey.
Prey seems a bit distant when we catch up with her in 2009. Although receptive to her former co-stars, she’s also standoffish.
She’s looking after her elderly mother, but hints that her acting dreams have long since faded due to “complications”. It’s quite a sad scene.
So, there’s this toing and froing of sadness alongside intrigue and delight as we catch up with these failed actors.
Even Troll 2’s Italian director, Claudio Fragasso, eventually is receptive to the relentless barrage of “best worst movie” acclaim he has forced upon him.
In 1989, he barely spoke any English.
That led to much confusion during the shoot and blocked everyone from getting the results they wanted.
Fragasso is initially highly defensive of his film, but warms to its reputation when he observes fans queuing around the block to see Troll 2.
As he notes, that’s when he realised he’s achieved something. In one way or another. Better to be celebrated like this, than not at all.
And in the documentary he also reconnects warmly with his former cast, particularly when they revisit some of the shooting locations.
So, despite the poignancy involved, we must conclude with how joyous this whole documentary is.
Best Worst Movie is kind of an embodiment of life and the various journeys we all go through, encapsulating one disastrous moment in 1990 before reconnecting the dots in 2009.
Again, we weren’t expecting this at all. We went in thinking it’d be a summary recap on how such a production could come to be.
Instead, we were introduced to a group of loveable misfits and have-a-go heroes and heroines. And it moved us a great deal.
The Best Worst Movie… In Full!
You can rent the documentary film as well, if you like, but the full movie is above.
At 90 minutes long, it’s an intriguing look into fan culture, cult classics, and the lives of those involved in one of cinema’s many forgotten films.
Oh, except Troll 2 is back from the dead.
It has its place in cinematic history. It might not have been achieved in a way anyone involved wanted, but it’s much better than mediocrity.
Troll 2 is awful. So awful it’s quite superb. And in this final state it’s brought inordinate joy to the people of Earth. OMG…