George Hardy is as affable a man as they come. (Something about him even resembles Bruce Campbell, which is never a bad thing.) An established Alabama dentist, George would seem to be a pretty regular divorced dad of teenage girls.
However, George’s backstory is anything but typical.
Twenty-ish years ago, while living in Utah, he played the Dad in a tiny little low-budget movie that’s since become a cult phenomenon.
That movie was “Troll 2.”
That two-word title is enough to bring a smile to the face of many a cinephile. Troll 2 is so astronomically bad, it’s simply wonderful. In fact, it’s widely regarded as the best worst movie of all time. Years after the films disastrous release, film fans have embraced the terrible acting, writing, direction, and effects of the movie and made it legendary.
Now, two of the stars of this ill-conceived film (Michael Stephenson and George Hardy) have made a documentary about the impact being in the “Best Worst Movie” of all time has had on the lives of all those who participated in it’s creation. Stephenson, who played Joshua (the little boy at the center of the film) conceived of the idea of a documentary, and Hardy serves as the films main subject.
Chicago’s Music Box Theater was the logical and perfect place for the documentary, as it’s one of the locations where recent screenings of Troll 2 have showed to sold-out houses. Last night (as part of Super-Secret-Surprise-Date-Night, but that’s another blog…) Eric and I attended the second of two evenings dedicated to kicking off the theatrical run of “Best Worst Movie,” followed by a Q&A with George Hardy, and a midnight screening of Troll 2.
(That’s a whole lot of entertainment for a $12 admission price. Music Box Theatre = Best value in town? Perhaps.)
As a documentary, “Best Worst Movie,” is really fantastic.
There’s a fine line the film walks between being comical and delicately handling some of the sadder ends members of the cast have come to. (While Hardy is a beloved Dentist with an established practice, Margo Prey – the mother from the movie – is a different story. The film handles her with incredible care, and she’s never a target for laughs.) Some of the cast members embrace the movie happily, and others are making peace with it after years of pretending the movie never happened. Stephensen himself made the movie as a way to cope with the fact that he made a crappy movie as a child, and is still known for it. Literally, the entire cast of the original film is brought back together to talk about their experiences, and they even re-visit the house the movie largely took place in.
Perhaps the coolest part of the film, though, is the incredible love that film fans have for the film, which is heart-warming and pure joy to experience. Fans go as far as to get tattoos related to the film, and to learn to craft rubber masks so they can make their own Troll masks. Members of the Upright Citizens Brigade appear, talking about their love for the film. People around the country throw annual “Troll 2″ parties and share the wonder of this film with new people through the trading of old VHS copies.
The fandom was apparent at the Music Box last night. “Troll 2″ was something golden and worth revering, and applauded and laughed through the midnight screening of the movie like it was Rocky Horror. Famous lines got applause, the entrance of new characters were greeted with cheers, and some of the moments of terrible editing got huge laughs.
The Q&A with George Hardy, producer Brad Klopman, and a gentleman from Ain’t it Cool News (whose name was briefly mentioned and escapes me) was a lot of fun. Klopman said there’s a lot of excess footage that will be on the DVD release (including all the interviews shot with Deborah Reed, who plays crazy-plant-witch-lady Creedence in the film) and that Claudio Fragasso (director of “Troll 2″) claims to have a screenplay for a sequel to his legendarily bad movie.
*Also, It is with great pride that I can say my wonderful husband cracked the whole room up last night. One of the great things about “Troll 2″ is that there aren’t actually any Trolls in it. The word Troll is never uttered. The bad guy/monsters are Goblins. During the Q&A, when asked if he’d ever seen any of the 25+ movies that Fragasso claims to have made, Hardy answered that he had seen “Zombie 4.” My husband, smartass that he is, yells out “Are there any Zombies in Zombie 4?” which made the room go up in gales of laughter. George Hardy, quick as they come, retorted in the same way Fragasso reacts in the movie to people criticizing “Troll 2″ – by yelling “You know nothing!” It was a seriously fun moment, and a really good example of the evening as a whole.*
“Best Worst Movie” has a tentative release date of early November, and I – for one – will be buying it upon it’s release.
Please, go check out this movie during it’s theatrical run.
Even if you’ve never seen “Troll 2″ (which I think is sad) this documentary will touch your heart – and make you laugh.
George Hardy explained last night that, despite doing some 80 screenings in the past 4 years, he doesn’t get sick of them because the fans that embrace “Troll 2″ are people who love to laugh, and with all the negativity in the world, we need laughter.
Yeah, what he said.
View the film’s trailer and learn more at bestworstmovie.com.