Best Worst Movie is a very good documentary about a very, very bad film. There are no words that can truly encapsulate the enormity of its horribleness so it’s probably just best to its title: Troll 2.
The documentary operates on the premise that if there’s one thing people love more than a good movie it’s a really bad one, the kind of movie that’s so bad it goes right around the corner to being good, if not great. The really great bad movies of history have a certain je ne sais se quoi to them. We don’t know exactly what it is we love about them just that they hold a special place in our hearts.
But the process of making a great bad movie is even more difficult to define, likening itself to alchemy as opposed to filmmaking.
Best Worst Movie strives to put a finger on the intangible magic that surrounds Troll 2.
The story behind the horror flick is a uniquely strange one. Shot by an exclusively Italian film crew in Park City, Utah, Troll 2 (which has nothing to do with Troll but was given the title as a last ditch effort to capitalize on the minor success of the other film) follows an unsuspecting family that is lured to an isolated town called Nilbog (which is, incidentally, “goblin” spelled backwards), a place where the neighbors are actually goblins who crave human-vegetable hybrids.
The result is some of the most unintentionally funny images ever to grace the screen. Perhaps something about it got lost in translation, but even after taking the language barrier into consideration it’s still difficult to imagine what director Claudio Fragasso was going for.
As one of the film historians interviewed for the documentary says, the thing about Troll 2 is that absolutely nothing about it works. The acting, directing, writing, costumes and makeup are all equally atrocious. Nothing about the story (or most of the dialog) makes even one iota of sense.
Yet it’s incredibly watchable.
And that watchability comes from the honesty and earnestness of its creators. It’s those qualities that set Troll 2 apart from the Piranha 3-Ds and the Sharktopuses of the world. The filmmakers wanted nothing more than to make a movie that would thrill audiences as well as provide social commentary on the evils of vegetarianism.
What they lacked in budget and overall talent they more than made up for in shear enthusiasm. And something about that earnestness translates into the final product.
There’s an infectious exuberance to Troll 2 that one can’t help but be caught up in. The documentary is consistently funny as one might expect a documentary dealing in ridiculous subject matter to be, but it also takes unexpectedly touching and, at times, sad turns.
It’s impossible not to feel a pang of sympathy when Fragasso expresses genuine confusion after attending a screening of Troll 2. “They laughed at the things that were supposed to be funny. But then they also laughed at the things that were not supposed to be funny,” he says with just a touch of disappointment.
One might be inclined to scoff at Fragasso’s insistence that he made a good film. But he’s accomplished something that few directors ever achieve. He made a film that, for one reason or another, will endure.
Plenty of mediocre to marginally good movies are made every year, all of them technically better than Troll 2. But those movies inevitably fade into the background with nothing particularly memorable about them to keep them from being swallowed up by the annals of time.
Troll 2 isn’t just memorable, it’s unforgettable.
It would be next to impossible to forget such crudely made goblin masks or such classic lines as, “You can’t piss on hospitality! I won’t allow it!” Or an infamous clip wherein a bespectacled teenager (upon realizing that some low rent goblins are going to eat him) lets out the longest, most flatly delivered “Oh my God!” one could ever hope to witness.
Best Worst Movie shows us that heroes can come from the unlikeliest places. A small, mountain town called Nilbog, for instance.