georgehardy

Not familiar with George Hardy’s work as an actor? Click here to watch a packed audience reacting to him on screen . It’s totally worth it.

About a week ago, while drinking slushies on a beach, I attempted to brainstorm a hyperbolic-geek intro for this interview that was impossibly cheesy and awful, yet aptly expressed my sentiments about the subject. As follows: It would be very difficult indeed to find a dentist who has contributed to more smiles around the globe than would-be actor, Alabama dentist, and newly-championed cult icon George Hardy.

For those who don’t know, Hardy was one of the lead human stars of 1990′s Troll 2; over the last few years, the shittastic fantasy-horror movie has rocketed in cult status and is a viable contender for a next-gen Rocky Horror Picture Show. Made for MGM by a crew of non-English speaking Italians, Troll 2 ironically exists today as an innocent, warped time-capsule of 1980s’ American summers, American culture, and genre films. In the role of the movie’s aloof dad, Michael Waits, Hardy is renown for the silly parental anecdote, “You can’t piss on hospitality!!” His performance is regarded by a growing number of cult cineastes to be one of the worst and most cherished of all time. Patton Oswalt, the Alamo Drafthouse, and Edgar Wright are counted as huge fans. The basic storyline is that of a generic Vacation knockoff meets slime and plot holes worthy of a drug trip: Hardy hauls his family (and a grandfather’s ghost) in a van to spend a summer in a dusty, desolate town called Nilbog. Goblin spelled backwards, Nilbog is populated by devilish country-folk and vegan Druid non-Trolls. In the end, the Waits fam defeats them and their leader, an STD-plagued witch, using a mystical bologna sandwich. Or do they?

Best Worst Movie, the new documentary about the reunited cast of Troll 2 and its international fandom, is a 2009 favorite of the /Film and /Filmcast staff. Directed by Troll 2‘s former “child star,” Michael Stephenson, much of Best Worst follows Hardy as he temporarily leaves his life as a small-town dentist to encounter the ups and downs of modern fame and his performance’s excavated notoriety. Thanks to a compelling story and the sharp twists and turns of real life, Best Worst can be enjoyed with or without having viewed the flick that spawned it. George called me from his lake house to discuss all of this while eating a sandwich. For our interview with Michael Stephenson, click here.

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One of the best documentaries of 2009 is Best Worst Movie. Whether you have read about it on /Film or watched it unfold before your eyes at a film festival, its very existence is miraculous. At its core, the doc marks the unlikely, unflinching reunion between director Michael Stephenson—the child star of 1990′s Troll 2 (renown for being the worst movie of all time)and his estranged Troll 2 co-stars and filmmakers. Over the last few years, the notoriety and fandom of Troll 2 has exploded into packed screenings nationwide, fan-organized parties, utterly deranged Internet memes, and frothy endorsements from the likes of Patton Oswalt and the Upright Citizens Brigade. But similar to the broad and hearty appeal of Best Worst Movie, Troll 2′s allure reaches outside the niche yet increasingly mainstream gates of a celebrated B- or F-Movie.

Troll 2 is the Kubrickian starchild of terrible movies. It’s incomparable badness is such that it warps our very definition into slime-colored brain candy that pops with cinematic pseudo-genius. The basic plot is a fairy tale-gone-sour about an All-American ’80s family that vacations in a deserted town called Nilbog. Based on the name alone, it’s no surprise that Nilbog is a human trap created by small vegan creatures in burlap sacks; ones obsessed with milk and looking cheap. As played by Stephenson, the family’s uber-annoying son, Joshua Waits, is surpassed in corniness only by his confident, clueless Southern father (would-be actor, definite cult legend George Hardy). Now an esteemed small-town dentist, Best Worst Movie catches up with Hardy, and follows him as he rides out Troll 2‘s renewed popularity around the globe in the Era of Internet Fame and Unabashed/Fleeting Geekdom.

Stephenson also tracks down other cast members living at differing and fascinating levels of obscurity, normalcy, and dysfunction. In our interview with Stephenson below, he explains that after outgrowing the embarrassment, years later he found himself searching out this make-believe but very real family. And Best Worst Movie goes one step further. It documents how impossibly connective and family-esque movie culture has become outside the eye and coffers of Hollywood. Such is Troll 2‘s power to entertain and unite that it can break through the stale dung of 1,000 McGs like water rapids through a wicked temple built by Druid goblins. Combined, Best Worst Movie and Troll 2 get us back in touch with what it means to love movies, to make them, and to have our lives changed by them for better, and sometimes Worst.

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